Case: Hicks v. Camden County, New Jersey

1:05-cv-01857 | U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

Filed Date: April 8, 2005

Closed Date: 2008

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On April 8, 2005, two inmates at the Camden County Jail in New Jersey filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Sheriff of the jail and Camden County officials in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages and attorneys' fees, alleging that the defendants had violated plaintiffs' constitutional rights by strip searching them at the jail. …

On April 8, 2005, two inmates at the Camden County Jail in New Jersey filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Sheriff of the jail and Camden County officials in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages and attorneys' fees, alleging that the defendants had violated plaintiffs' constitutional rights by strip searching them at the jail. They argued that they should not have been strip searched because they had been charged only with petty crimes and traffic violations. They also argued that a subclass of plaintiffs had paid their bail and were unlawfully detained at the time of their strip search.

On March 27, 2006, the District Court (Magistrate Judge Joel B. Rosen) dismissed without prejudice the City of Camden, the Camden City Police Department, and the police chief, and the deputy police chief. The Court noted that all parties had agreed to dismiss these defendants pursuant to the settlement talks that were in progress. On February 28, 2007, the District Court (District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez) granted the plaintiffs' motion for class certification, pursuant to an agreement of the parties.

On July 17, 2007, the parties asked the District Court to dismiss the case, notifying the Court that they had reached a settlement agreement. On June 9, 2008, Judge Rodriguez granted the request and issued an order of dismissal. In the settlement agreement, the defendants affirmatively stated that they had stopped strip searching detainees on a blanket basis as of April 27, 2005. They also stated that they had stopped strip searching non-indictable detainees in the absence of reasonable suspicion. The defendants maintained that their written policy as of 2007 was constitutional, and had been reviewed by the New Jersey Department of Corrections for compliance with state law, but they agreed to consider formally revising their policy as needed. The defendants agreed to retrain all corrections officers regarding the strip search policy, requiring all officers to sign a form reflecting their understanding of the policy. The defendants also agreed to release, in due time, inmates who had paid their bail, rather than holding them unnecessarily. Finally, the defendants agreed to pay $7.5 million into a settlement fund, to be distributed to plaintiffs as damages, with the named class representatives to receive $15,000 each, and with $200,000 also deducted from the larger sum to pay the costs of administration and notice regarding the settlement. Likewise, prevailing parties' attorneys fees would be deducted from the larger sum, leaving a "distribution amount" from which payments would be made to the class. Final Judgment was issued on September 22, 2008.

The court maintained jurisdiction throughout the course of the consent decree. As of January 31, 2018, there was no further substantial activity in the court, and the case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Kristen Sagar (3/22/2009)

People


Judge(s)

Rodriguez, Joseph H. (New Jersey)

Rosen, Joel B. (New Jersey)

Schneider, Joel (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Cuneo, Jonathan W. (District of Columbia)

Keach, Elmer Robert III (New York)

La Duca, Charles (District of Columbia)

Lesser, Seth R. (New York)

Riback, William A. (New Jersey)

Rudich, Fran L. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Gillespie, John Charles (New Jersey)

Judge(s)

Rodriguez, Joseph H. (New Jersey)

Rosen, Joel B. (New Jersey)

Schneider, Joel (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Cuneo, Jonathan W. (District of Columbia)

Keach, Elmer Robert III (New York)

La Duca, Charles (District of Columbia)

Lesser, Seth R. (New York)

Riback, William A. (New Jersey)

Rudich, Fran L. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Gillespie, John Charles (New Jersey)

Howard, Richard M. (New York)

O'Brien, Timothy P. (New Jersey)

Salvati, Frank A. (New Jersey)

Wilson, Howard (New Jersey)

Other Attorney(s)

Whiteside, Donna M. (New Jersey)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

Hicks v. County of Camden

Jan. 23, 2009 Docket
1

Class Action Complaint

Hicks v. Camden County, NJ

April 8, 2005 Complaint
28

Order of Dismissal Without Prejudice as to Defendants, The City of Camden [in part]

Hicks et al v. County of Camden et al

March 27, 2006 Order/Opinion
48

Order [re: Class Certification]

Hicks et al v. County of Camden et al

Feb. 28, 2007 Order/Opinion
51

Order of Dismissal

Hicks v. County of Camden

July 17, 2007 Order/Opinion
52-6

Settlement Agreement pp. 1-50

Hicks v. County of Camden

Sept. 5, 2007 Settlement Agreement
52-7

Settlement Agreement pp. 51-88

Hicks v. County of Camden

Sept. 5, 2007 Settlement Agreement

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: New Jersey

Case Type(s):

Jail Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Strip Search Cases

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 8, 2005

Closing Date: 2008

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Those strip-searched at the Camden County Correctional Facility after charged with petty crimes and traffic violations and also a subclass who paid bail to Camden City Police Department, yet were unlawfully detained and strip searched.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

County of Camden (Camden), County

Camden County Correctional Facility (Camden), County

The City of Camden (Camden), City

Camden City Police Department (Camden), City

Camden County Sheriff's De[artment (Camden), County

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Unreasonable search and seizure

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: $7,500,000

Order Duration: 2007 - None

Issues

General:

Over/Unlawful Detention

Search policies

Strip search policy

Type of Facility:

Government-run