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$3 Million Settlement in Kentucky Strip Search Class Action

By David M. Reutter

A $3 million fund has been established to settle a class action lawsuit against Kentucky’s Hopkins County Detention Center (HCDC) for strip-searching the class members. The class consisted of an “Entry” class and a “Release” class.

The entry class consisted of persons who were strip-searched upon admission to HCDC after arrest for a qualifying non-violent, non-drug related misdemeanor offense and without regard to whether there existed a reasonable, individualized suspicion that the prisoner might be carrying or concealing weapons or contraband between January 9, 2002 and June 2, 2008. The release class covers the same time period, but consists of persons arrested for a minor offense and strip-searched after being released from HCDC pursuant to a court order, payment of bond, or any other reason.

The July 17, 2008, settlement agreement provides for the attorneys, Gregory A. Belzley and Bart C. Greenwald, to receive attorneys fees and costs of up to $1.5 million. The original class representatives, Eddie Sutton and Lester Hank Turner, will receive $35,000 each. Other named class representatives, Robin Littlepage, Tim May, Tabitha Nance, Cadonia Nelson, Linda Ford, and Robert Teague, each receive $25,000. Then, class representatives Daniel Todd and Tony Ward will receive $15,000 each.

Once all those payouts are made, the remainder will be split amongst the other class members. Those who make claims will receive up to $4,000 “no matter how many times they were admitted into and/or searched while incarcerated” at HCDC during the class period. Class members have until December 31, 2008, to submit a claim form. See Sutton v. Hopkins County, KY., USDC, W.D.KY., Case No: 4:03-CV-3-M.

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Related legal case

Sutton v. Hopkins County, KY