Case: Luse v. Sentinel Offender Services

2:16-cv-00030 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia

Filed Date: Feb. 17, 2016

Closed Date: 2017

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On February 17, 2016, two women on probation in White County, represented by the Southern Center for Human Rights, sued the private probation company Sentinel Offender Services (Sentinel) in a class action in the U.S. Northern District of Georgia pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Georgia law. The plaintiffs claimed that they were forced by Sentinel to submit to, and pay for, unauthorized urine sample drug tests in violation of their due process and privacy rights, and in violation of their right…

On February 17, 2016, two women on probation in White County, represented by the Southern Center for Human Rights, sued the private probation company Sentinel Offender Services (Sentinel) in a class action in the U.S. Northern District of Georgia pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Georgia law. The plaintiffs claimed that they were forced by Sentinel to submit to, and pay for, unauthorized urine sample drug tests in violation of their due process and privacy rights, and in violation of their right against unreasonable seizure. The plaintiffs also challenged Sentinel’s practice of coercing payments with false threats of immediate incarceration, charging that this practice constituted conversion under state law, fraud, and tortious coercion. They requested monetary, injunctive, and declaratory relief.

Both of the plaintiffs had pled guilty to traffic violations in White County Probate Court and were placed on probation. In neither case did the judge order drug testing. When the county’s probation contractor Sentinel drug tested the plaintiffs, it did not go back to the judge and obtain an order for any of the nine tests conducted. To complete the tests, the women were required to urinate in plain view of a Sentinel officer.

The plaintiff claimed that she did not have the available funds ($60 in total) to pay for the drug tests, but was forced to borrow money from relatives after a Sentinel officer threatened that she would report the plaintiff to the County to have her incarcerated. Another plaintiff similarly refused to submit to the tests initially, but eventually submitted to five tests ($95) after a similar threat from the defendant's employee. At no point were the plaintiffs able to challenge the legality of paying for and submitting to the tests.

The complaint sought to certify the following class: "all persons with criminal charges requiring them to appear in the White County Probate Court who are, were, or in the future will be subject to the Defendants’ practice of requiring probationers to submit to and pay for drug tests, in the absence of any court order authorizing such drug tests."

On February 26, 2016, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction, seeking to enjoin the defendants from requiring the probationers to take unauthorized drug tests while the case was pending. That same day, they also moved to certify the class defined above.

The case was assigned to Judge Richard W. Story on February 29, 2016. The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on April 1, 2016.

On June 8, 2016, the court stayed further proceedings pending mediation. The court also denied the motion for certification as moot on July 15, but allowed the parties to refile it pending the outcome of mediation.

On August 14, 2017, the court issued a consent order resolving the plaintiffs' injunctive relief claims. The consent order created the following requirements: (1) the defendants could not require probationers to submit to a drug screening that was not specifically authorized by a written order of the court; (2) the defendants could not "threaten probationers with jail solely for failure to pay fines, supervision fees, or other monetary obligations;" (3) the defendants were forbidden from directing probationers to borrow money to pay monetary obligations and from impeding probation modifications in general; and (4) the defendants were to verbally and in writing inform probationers that their probation may be modified to accommodate hardships. The consent order also provided for probation officer training and protocol in the event of the possibility of probation modification. The court retained jurisdiction over the enforcement of the consent order, though no end date was provided.

On August 21, 2017, the court granted final approval of the class settlement after conducting a fairness hearing as to the plaintiffs' damages claims. The settlement applied to the following class of individuals who meet the following requirements: "(1) the person was sentenced to probation by the Probate Court of White County, Georgia; (2) the person's sentencing order did not specifically authorize drug testing; (3) the person was subjected to drug testing by Defendants on or after February 17, 2012; and (4) the person was not under a written order by another court specifically requiring the person to submit to drug testing by Defendants." This class, consisting of 276 individuals, was the group of people eligible to receive damages. The Settlement required the defendants to make available an $80,000 fund to reimburse these class members both restitution in the form of interest and damages of up to $90 per unauthorized drug test. The agreement also provided that defendants were to pay attorneys' fees of $25,000.

The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Dan Hofman (3/30/2016)

Virginia Weeks (1/27/2018)

Justin Hill (11/6/2019)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attrorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4243058/parties/luse-v-sentinel-offender-services-llc/


Judge(s)

Story, Richard W. (Georgia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Geraghty, Sarah E. (Georgia)

Primerano, Ryan (Georgia)

Weber, Gerald R. (Georgia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Gray, Harvey Scott (Georgia)

St. Amand, Michael D. (Georgia)

Judge(s)

Story, Richard W. (Georgia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Geraghty, Sarah E. (Georgia)

Primerano, Ryan (Georgia)

Weber, Gerald R. (Georgia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Gray, Harvey Scott (Georgia)

St. Amand, Michael D. (Georgia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

2:16-cv-00030

Docket [PACER]

Luse v. Sentinel Offender Services, LLC

Aug. 22, 2017

Aug. 22, 2017

Docket
1

2:16-cv-00030

Complaint

Luse v. Sentinel Offender Services, LLC

Feb. 17, 2016

Feb. 17, 2016

Complaint
17

2:16-cv-00030

Verified Amended Complaint

April 1, 2016

April 1, 2016

Complaint
40

2:16-cv-00030

Consent Order

Aug. 14, 2017

Aug. 14, 2017

Order/Opinion
42

2:16-cv-00030

Order Granting Final Approval of Class Settlement

Aug. 21, 2017

Aug. 21, 2017

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4243058/luse-v-sentinel-offender-services-llc/

Last updated Aug. 6, 2022, 3:13 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

COMPLAINT with Jury Demand, filed by Rita Sanders Luse, Marianne Ligocki. ( Filing fee $ 400.00 receipt number 113E-6293592.) (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A - Contract, # 2 Exhibit B - Luse Disposition, # 3 Exhibit C - Ligocki Disposition, # 4 Civil Cover Sheet)(rsg) Please visit our website at http://www.gand.uscourts.gov/commonly-used-forms to obtain Pretrial Instructions which includes the Consent To Proceed Before U.S. Magistrate form. (Entered: 02/17/2016)

1 Exhibit A - Contract

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2 Exhibit B - Luse Disposition

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3 Exhibit C - Ligocki Disposition

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4 Civil Cover Sheet

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Feb. 17, 2016

Feb. 17, 2016

RECAP
2

Electronic Summons Issued as to Sentinel Offender Services, LLC, Stacy McDowell-Black. (Attachments: # 1 Summons Stacy McDowell-Black) (rsg) (Entered: 02/17/2016)

1 Summons Stacy McDowell-Black

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Feb. 17, 2016

Feb. 17, 2016

PACER
3

Certificate of Interested Persons by Marianne Ligocki, Rita Sanders Luse. (Primerano, Ryan) (Entered: 02/23/2016)

Feb. 23, 2016

Feb. 23, 2016

PACER
4

Return of Service Executed by Rita Sanders Luse, Marianne Ligocki. Stacy McDowell-Black served on 2/18/2016, answer due 3/10/2016. (Primerano, Ryan) (Entered: 02/25/2016)

Feb. 25, 2016

Feb. 25, 2016

PACER
5

MOTION for Preliminary Injunction with Brief In Support by Marianne Ligocki, Rita Sanders Luse. (Attachments: # 1 Brief in Supp. of Prelim. Inj.)(Primerano, Ryan) (Entered: 02/26/2016)

1 Brief in Supp. of Prelim. Inj.

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Feb. 26, 2016

Feb. 26, 2016

PACER
6

MOTION to Certify Class with Brief In Support by Marianne Ligocki, Rita Sanders Luse. (Attachments: # 1 Brief in Supp. of Class Certification)(Primerano, Ryan) (Entered: 02/26/2016)

1 Brief in Supp. of Class Certification

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Feb. 26, 2016

Feb. 26, 2016

PACER
7

ORDER REASSIGNING CASE. Case reassigned to Judge Richard W. Story for all further proceedings. Judge William C. O'Kelley no longer assigned to case. NOTICE TO ALL COUNSEL OF RECORD: The Judge designation in the civil action number assigned to this case has been changed to 2:16-cv-30-RWS. Please make note of this change in order to facilitate the docketing of pleadings in this case. Signed by Judge William C. O'Kelley on 02/29/16. (sk) (Entered: 02/29/2016)

Feb. 29, 2016

Feb. 29, 2016

PACER
8

Return of Service Executed by Rita Sanders Luse, Marianne Ligocki. Sentinel Offender Services, LLC served on 2/19/2016, answer due 3/11/2016. (Primerano, Ryan) (Entered: 02/29/2016)

Feb. 29, 2016

Feb. 29, 2016

PACER
9

ANSWER to 1 COMPLAINT with Jury Demand by Stacy McDowell-Black. Discovery ends on 8/8/2016.(St. Amand, Michael) Please visit our website at http://www.gand.uscourts.gov to obtain Pretrial Instructions. (Entered: 03/10/2016)

March 10, 2016

March 10, 2016

PACER
10

ANSWER to 1 COMPLAINT with Jury Demand by Sentinel Offender Services, LLC.(St. Amand, Michael) Please visit our website at http://www.gand.uscourts.gov to obtain Pretrial Instructions. (Entered: 03/11/2016)

March 11, 2016

March 11, 2016

PACER

NOTICE of Hearing on Motion re: 5 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction Motion Hearing set for 4/1/2016 at 10:30 AM in GAIN Courtroom 303 before Judge Richard W. Story. (rag)

March 14, 2016

March 14, 2016

PACER
11

RESPONSE in Opposition re 5 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction filed by Stacy McDowell-Black, Sentinel Offender Services, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Exhibit, # 3 Exhibit, # 4 Exhibit)(Gray, Harvey) (Entered: 03/14/2016)

1 Exhibit

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2 Exhibit

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3 Exhibit

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4 Exhibit

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March 14, 2016

March 14, 2016

PACER
12

RESPONSE in Opposition re 6 MOTION to Certify Class filed by Stacy McDowell-Black, Sentinel Offender Services, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Exhibit, # 3 Exhibit, # 4 Exhibit)(Gray, Harvey) (Entered: 03/14/2016)

1 Exhibit

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2 Exhibit

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3 Exhibit

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4 Exhibit

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March 14, 2016

March 14, 2016

PACER
13

REPLY to Response to Motion re 5 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction filed by Marianne Ligocki, Rita Sanders Luse. (Primerano, Ryan) (Entered: 03/25/2016)

March 25, 2016

March 25, 2016

PACER

Submission of 5 MOTION for Preliminary Injunction, submitted to District Judge Richard W. Story. (sk)

March 25, 2016

March 25, 2016

PACER
14

REPLY to Response to Motion re 6 MOTION to Certify Class filed by Marianne Ligocki, Rita Sanders Luse. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A: Chaudhuri Decl.)(Primerano, Ryan) (Entered: 03/30/2016)

1 Exhibit A: Chaudhuri Decl.

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March 30, 2016

March 30, 2016

PACER

Submission of 6 MOTION to Certify Class, submitted to District Judge Richard W. Story. (sk)

March 31, 2016

March 31, 2016

PACER
15

Joint MOTION for Order by Marianne Ligocki, Rita Sanders Luse. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order Consent Order)(Geraghty, Sarah) (Entered: 03/31/2016)

1 Text of Proposed Order Consent Order

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March 31, 2016

March 31, 2016

PACER
16

ORDER granting 15 Motion for Consent Order re Preliminary Injunction (See order for specifics). Signed by Judge Richard W. Story on 03/31/2016. (rsg) (Entered: 03/31/2016)

March 31, 2016

March 31, 2016

PACER
17

AMENDED COMPLAINT against All Defendants with Jury Demand, filed by Rita Sanders Luse, Marianne Ligocki. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A: Contract, # 2 Exhibit B: Luse Disposition, # 3 Exhibit C: Ligocki Disposition)(Primerano, Ryan) Please visit our website at http://www.gand.uscourts.gov/commonly-used-forms to obtain Pretrial Instructions which includes the Consent To Proceed Before U.S. Magistrate form. (Entered: 04/01/2016)

1 Exhibit A: Contract

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2 Exhibit B: Luse Disposition

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3 Exhibit C: Ligocki Disposition

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April 1, 2016

April 1, 2016

RECAP
18

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE of Initial Disclosures by Marianne Ligocki, Rita Sanders Luse.(Primerano, Ryan) (Entered: 04/11/2016)

April 11, 2016

April 11, 2016

PACER
19

Initial Disclosures by Stacy McDowell-Black.(St. Amand, Michael) (Entered: 04/11/2016)

April 11, 2016

April 11, 2016

PACER
20

Initial Disclosures by Sentinel Offender Services, LLC.(St. Amand, Michael) (Entered: 04/11/2016)

April 11, 2016

April 11, 2016

PACER
21

ANSWER to 17 Amended Complaint by Sentinel Offender Services, LLC.(St. Amand, Michael) Please visit our website at http://www.gand.uscourts.gov to obtain Pretrial Instructions. (Entered: 04/15/2016)

April 15, 2016

April 15, 2016

RECAP
22

ANSWER to 17 Amended Complaint by Stacy McDowell-Black.(St. Amand, Michael) Please visit our website at http://www.gand.uscourts.gov to obtain Pretrial Instructions. (Entered: 04/15/2016)

April 15, 2016

April 15, 2016

PACER
23

Verification of ANSWER to 17 Amended Complaint by Sentinel Offender Services, LLC.(St. Amand, Michael) Please visit our website at http://www.gand.uscourts.gov to obtain Pretrial Instructions. (Entered: 05/06/2016)

May 6, 2016

May 6, 2016

RECAP
24

Verification of ANSWER to 17 Amended Complaint by Stacy McDowell-Black.(St. Amand, Michael) Please visit our website at http://www.gand.uscourts.gov to obtain Pretrial Instructions. (Entered: 05/06/2016)

May 6, 2016

May 6, 2016

PACER
25

JOINT PRELIMINARY REPORT AND DISCOVERY PLAN filed by Marianne Ligocki, Rita Sanders Luse. (Primerano, Ryan) (Entered: 05/13/2016)

May 13, 2016

May 13, 2016

PACER

NOTICE of Hearing: Scheduling Conference set for 6/8/2016 at 11:30 AM in Atlanta Courtroom 2105 before Judge Richard W. Story. (rag)

May 17, 2016

May 17, 2016

PACER
26

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Richard W. Story: Scheduling Conference held on 6/8/2016, Court grants a 30 day stay for mediation. Parties to submit a status report after the 30 day period. Hearing concluded. (Court Reporter Amanda Lohnaas)(rsg) (Entered: 06/08/2016)

June 8, 2016

June 8, 2016

PACER
27

ORDER that this action be STAYED for 30 days pending mediation by the parties. The parties are ORDERED to file a status report in 30 days regarding the scheduling and/or outcome of mediation. (Status Report due by 7/8/2016.) Signed by Judge Richard W. Story on 06/08/2016. (rsg) (Entered: 06/08/2016)

June 8, 2016

June 8, 2016

PACER
28

NOTICE by Marianne Ligocki, Rita Sanders Luse Regarding Mediation (Geraghty, Sarah) (Entered: 07/06/2016)

July 6, 2016

July 6, 2016

PACER
29

ORDER that the 6 Motion to Certify Class is DENIED as MOOT with leave to re-file in the event that settlement is not consummated. The case will remain open for entry of any necessary orders regarding procedures for notification of class members and authorization of payment. Signed by Judge Richard W. Story on 07/15/2016. (rsg) (Entered: 07/15/2016)

July 15, 2016

July 15, 2016

PACER
30

MOTION for Hearing/Conference Regarding Proposed Settlement by Marianne Ligocki, Rita Sanders Luse. (Geraghty, Sarah) Modified on 11/3/2016 to correct event type (sk). (Entered: 11/03/2016)

Nov. 3, 2016

Nov. 3, 2016

PACER

NOTICE of Conference: Conference regarding Proposed Settlement set for 11/14/2016 at 10:30 AM in ATLA Courtroom 2105 before Judge Richard W. Story. (rag)

Nov. 4, 2016

Nov. 4, 2016

PACER

Verbal ORDER granting 30 Motion for Hearing/Conference. Signed by Judge Richard W. Story on 11/4/16. (rag)

Nov. 4, 2016

Nov. 4, 2016

PACER
31

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Richard W. Story: Settlement Conference held on 11/14/2016. Parties have two weeks to provide full disclosure documents and 28 days for settlement documents.(rsg) (Entered: 11/14/2016)

Nov. 14, 2016

Nov. 14, 2016

PACER
32

MOTION for Extension of Time to File Settlement Documents by Marianne Ligocki, Rita Sanders Luse. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Geraghty, Sarah) (Entered: 12/12/2016)

1 Text of Proposed Order

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Dec. 12, 2016

Dec. 12, 2016

PACER
33

ORDER granting 32 Motion for Extension of Time. Signed by Judge Richard W. Story on 12/13/2016. (rsg) (Entered: 12/13/2016)

Dec. 13, 2016

Dec. 13, 2016

PACER
34

Joint MOTION for Order Entry of Consent Confidentiality Order Regarding Document Production by Sentinel Offender Services, LLC. (Attachments: # 1 Consent Confidentiality Order Regarding Document Production)(St. Amand, Michael) (Entered: 12/14/2016)

1 Consent Confidentiality Order Regarding Document Production

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Dec. 14, 2016

Dec. 14, 2016

PACER
35

Court Notice Of Filing: Standing Order by Judge Richard W. Story. (rag) (Entered: 12/14/2016)

Dec. 14, 2016

Dec. 14, 2016

PACER
36

ORDER granting 34 Motion for Confidentiality Order Regarding Document Production with minor change to modify Paragraph No. 4 - If any document or motion is to be filed with the Court making reference to or appending a document designated as CONFIDENTIAL by any party under this Confidentiality Order, compliance with the undersigned's 35 Standing Order regarding Civil Litigation, ¶ 7(e) is required. Signed by Judge Richard W. Story on 12/14/2016. (rsg) (Entered: 12/14/2016)

Dec. 14, 2016

Dec. 14, 2016

PACER
37

Joint MOTION to Certify Class Conditionally with Brief In Support by Marianne Ligocki, Rita Sanders Luse. (Attachments: # 1 Brief in Support of Conditional Certification of Settlement Class, # 2 Exhibit A: Settlement Agreement (with Appendices A - F), # 3 Exhibit B: Consent Order for Injunctive Relief, # 4 Exhibit C: Proposed Order Conditionally Certifying Settlement Class)(Primerano, Ryan) (Entered: 12/20/2016)

1 Brief in Support of Conditional Certification of Settlement Class

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2 Exhibit A: Settlement Agreement (with Appendices A - F)

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3 Exhibit B: Consent Order for Injunctive Relief

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4 Exhibit C: Proposed Order Conditionally Certifying Settlement Class

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Dec. 20, 2016

Dec. 20, 2016

PACER
38

ORDER granting 37 Motion to Certify Class. Signed by Judge Richard W. Story on 01/13/2017. (rsg) (Entered: 01/13/2017)

Jan. 13, 2017

Jan. 13, 2017

PACER
39

NOTICE of Hearing:FINAL FAIRNESS HEARING set for 8/14/2017 at 09:30 AM in GAIN Courtroom 303 before Judge Richard W. Story. (sk) (Entered: 05/08/2017)

May 8, 2017

May 8, 2017

PACER
40

CONSENT ORDER is submitted and entered into as a resolution of Plaintiffs' claims for injunctive relief on behalf of themselves and a class of similarly situated persons. (See order for more details.) Signed by Judge Richard W. Story on 08/14/2017. (Attachments: # 1 Appendix A)(rsg) (Entered: 08/14/2017)

1 Appendix A

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Aug. 14, 2017

Aug. 14, 2017

PACER
41

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Richard W. Story: Settlement Conference held on 8/14/2017. The Court noted that no objectionswere received by class members. Counsel will present a proposed final order to the Court on Monday, August 21st consideration. The Court stated that the proposed consent injunctive relief order will be approved and entered on the docket today. (Court Reporter Amanda Lohnaas) (dgr) (Entered: 08/14/2017)

Aug. 14, 2017

Aug. 14, 2017

PACER
42

ORDER GRANTING Final Approval of Class Settlement. See Order for specifics. Signed by Judge Richard W. Story on 08/21/2017. (dgr) (Entered: 08/22/2017)

Aug. 21, 2017

Aug. 21, 2017

PACER

Civil Case Terminated. (dgr)

Aug. 22, 2017

Aug. 22, 2017

PACER

Case Details

State / Territory: Georgia

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Special Collection(s):

Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of Poverty)

Multi-LexSum (in sample)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Feb. 17, 2016

Closing Date: 2017

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Women on probation in White County, Georgia who were required to submit urine sample drug tests not ordered by a court.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Sentinel Offender Services, LLC, Private Entity/Person

Stacy McDowell-Black, Private Entity/Person

Defendant Type(s):

Law-enforcement

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Unreasonable search and seizure

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Monetary Relief

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Attorneys fees

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: 105000

Content of Injunction:

Training

Preliminary relief request withdrawn/mooted

Issues

General:

Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond

Pattern or Practice

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