$55 Million Settlement For Illegal searches at Cook County Jail

 
Largest-ever settlement of its kind
 
 
 
Chicago, IL ― In the largest-ever class action settlement of its kind, Cook County and its insurers yesterday agreed to pay $55 million to settle a lawsuit over illegal strip-searches conducted at the county jail.
 
At least 1/4 million people jailed between January 30, 2004 and March 30, 2009 are eligible to share in the settlement of the suit filed by the civil rights law firm, Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law (www.Loevy.com).  Those who believe they may be eligible are encouraged to go to the new www.cookcountystripsearch.com website to learn how they can get compensation.
 
“This settlement puts an end to the cruel and shameful hazing that the Sheriff’s Department allowed in that jail every night.  The public should expect the jail to use strip searches only when appropriate and only in a professional manner,” said Michael Kanovitz, a partner at Loevy & Loevy. 
 
In February 2009 a federal judge faulted the Jail for strip searching people who were awaiting bail on minor crimes like traffic violations.  He also found that the jail would perform the searches by needlessly humiliating the detainees with group strip searches of upwards of 100 people at a time standing shoulder to shoulder in unsanitary conditions. 
 
He also noted that “Bodily fluids were often present during the male group strip searches…including vomit, diarrhea, and blood…”  Over 400 class members also submitted affidavits attesting “that the guards used insults or abusive language during strip searches.  These included insults about body odor, anatomy, sexual orientation, and race.”
 
In August of 2009, a jury found that the Sherriff Thomas Dart was liable to the class for allowing the abusive strip searches to continue for years after he took office.
 
The settlement provides for payments to each class member who submits a timely claim.  Plaintiffs’ attorneys will also be suing two of the County’s insurers (both owned by AIG) that refused to contribute to the settlement. 
  
Copies of the suit brought by Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, Kim Young, et al. v. County of Cook, et al., No. 06 C552, the plaintiffs’ statement of facts and their brief can be found via a button on the www.Loevy.com website labeled “Young Strip Search Class Action.”  Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law is the largest civil rights law firm in the Midwest and prior to this had won more than $150 million in jury verdicts for its clients.