Case: Lira v. Dona Ana County

1:06-cv-00179 | U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico

Filed Date: March 7, 2006

Closed Date: 2008

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On March 7, 2006, seven individuals that had been arrested on minor offenses filed a class action civil rights suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, challenging the strip search policy of the Dona Ana County Jail. Plaintiffs alleged that the Dona Ana County Sheriff had a blanket policy of strip searching all pre-arraignment detainees upon their arrival at the Jail, regardless of the offense charged, or whether their was any suspicion that the de…

On March 7, 2006, seven individuals that had been arrested on minor offenses filed a class action civil rights suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, challenging the strip search policy of the Dona Ana County Jail. Plaintiffs alleged that the Dona Ana County Sheriff had a blanket policy of strip searching all pre-arraignment detainees upon their arrival at the Jail, regardless of the offense charged, or whether their was any suspicion that the detainee possessed weapons or contraband. The plaintiffs, who were strip searched pursuant to this policy, alleged that that the policy violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as state tort law. Plaintiffs sought compensatory and punitive damages, declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as class certification. The Dona Ana County Sheriff generally denied the allegations.

Shortly after the suit was filed, the District Court (District Judge William P. Johnson) stayed the proceedings at the request of the parties so that they could pursue settlement negotiations. Ultimately, a settlement agreement was reached. After the initial settlement agreement, Judge Johnson entered an agreed order consolidating the case with a similar case styled Rodriguez v. Dona Ana County, which contested strip searches at the County juvenile detention facility. (See JI-NM-0003). The parties then filed an Amended Stipulation of Settlement, under which the Defendants agreed to pay $5.3 million to resolve all class claims. The stipulated Adult Settlement Class included all detainees who were strip searched between March 7, 2003, and March 7, 2006, at the Dona Ana County Jail prior to arraignment. The stipulated Juvenile Settlement class included all detainees who were strip searched between May 16, 2003, and May 16, 2006, at the Dona Ana Juvenile Detention Center. It was estimated that there were approximately 11,000 class members. Individual claims were to be paid per an agreed-upon distribution formula, with the range of expected pay-outs per individual claimant was estimated at $1,200 to $2,400. Representative plaintiffs would receive a total $200,000 or $25,000 per class representative. $1,666,667 of the settlement fund was allocated for attorneys' fees.

Judge Johnson preliminarily approved the settlement on December 20, 2007.

On May 20, 2008, the district court (Judge Johnson) issued a final approval of the settlement and a final judgment of dismissal in the case.

Summary Authors

Kristen Sagar (10/3/2008)

Related Cases

Rodriguez v. Dona Ana County, District of New Mexico (2006)

People


Judge(s)

Johnson, William Paul (New Mexico)

Lynch, William P. (New Mexico)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bienvenu, John C. (New Mexico)

Donatelli, Mark H. (New Mexico)

Lilley, Jess R. (New Mexico)

Rothstein, Robert R. (New Mexico)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Carrillo, Raul A. Jr. (New Mexico)

Judge(s)

Johnson, William Paul (New Mexico)

Lynch, William P. (New Mexico)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bienvenu, John C. (New Mexico)

Donatelli, Mark H. (New Mexico)

Lilley, Jess R. (New Mexico)

Rothstein, Robert R. (New Mexico)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Carrillo, Raul A. Jr. (New Mexico)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

1:06-cv-00179

Docket

Lira v. Dona Ana County Board of Commissioners

July 31, 2008

July 31, 2008

Docket
1

1:06-cv-00179

Class Action Complaint Complaint

Lira v. Dona Ana County Board of Commissioners

March 7, 2006

March 7, 2006

Complaint
38-1

1:06-cv-00179

Stipulation of Settlement

Lira v. Dona Ana County Board of Commissioners

Sept. 19, 2007

Sept. 19, 2007

Settlement Agreement
38

1:06-cv-00179

Joint Unopposed Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement Agreement

Lira v. Dona Ana County Board of Commissioners

Sept. 19, 2007

Sept. 19, 2007

Pleading / Motion / Brief
46-2

1:06-cv-00179

Amended Stipulation of Settlement

Lira v. Dona Ana County Board of Commissioners

Nov. 25, 2007

Nov. 25, 2007

Settlement Agreement

Resources

Docket

Last updated June 4, 2022, 3:04 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: New Mexico

Case Type(s):

Jail Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Strip Search Cases

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 7, 2006

Closing Date: 2008

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

All persons who, from March 3, 2003 to the present, were arrested and subjected to a strip search and/or body cavity search at the Dona Ana County Detention Facility without reasonable suspicion of contraband or weapons.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Dona Ana County (Doña Ana), County

Dona Ana County Sheriff's Department (Doña Ana), County

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Unreasonable search and seizure

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 2008 - 0

Issues

General:

Search policies

Strip search policy

Affected Gender:

Female

Male

Type of Facility:

Government-run