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Case Name Anderson v. Cornejo IM-IL-0025
Docket / Court 1:97-cv-07556 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Case Summary
In this case, African–American women alleged that they were subjected to improper searches at customs in O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. The case was initially brought by a single plaintiff in October 1997. In May 1998, a class action complaint was filed with 18 named ... read more >
In this case, African–American women alleged that they were subjected to improper searches at customs in O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. The case was initially brought by a single plaintiff in October 1997. In May 1998, a class action complaint was filed with 18 named plaintiffs. In 1999, another case was filed by 38 African-American women. Although each case was filed separately, the claims were essentially identical. The plaintiffs alleged that employees of the U.S. Customs Service at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport discriminatorily selected them for nonroutine personal services. These searches were allegedly conducted without probable cause. The plaintiffs alleged that they were taken into small, windowless rooms and strip searched. The defendants then allegedly conducted body cavity searches by forcing the women to face a wall and bend over. Sometimes, the plaintiffs were allegedly transported to a hospital where they were x-rayed and forced to undergo a gynecological examination. The plaintiffs contended that they had not been informed of their rights and were held incommunicado. Customs maintained records of these searches and allegedly no contraband was ever found.

The cases were consolidated in the Northern District of Illinois before Judge William Hart. The claims varied slightly between the different cases. The individual named plaintiffs asserted four claims specific to their cases:
  1. An equal protection claim that Customs inspectors targeted African-American women for nonroutine person searches in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment;
  2. A Fourth Amendment claim that Customs inspectors lacked sufficient cause to seize, detain, and search plaintiffs;
  3. A Federal Tort Claims Act claim against the United States alleging that the conduct of individual defendants constituted false imprisonment, assault, and battery;
  4. A Fourth and Fifth Amendment claim that Customs inspectors denied due process by not obtaining judicial authorization for the searches and by holding plaintiffs in communicado.
  5. An allegation that the defendants violated the plaintiffs’ right to privacy by maintaining logs of who was searched.
On behalf of a putative class of African-American women who were subjected to nonroutine personal searches at O’Hare, the plaintiffs alleged five more claims:
  1. An equal protection claim that supervisory employees failed to take proper action to prevent the discriminatory selection of African-American women for nonroutine personal searches;
  2. A Fourth Amendment claim that supervisory Customs employees failed to take proper action to prevent or stop the illegal seizures, searches, and detentions;
  3. A Fourth and Fifth Amendment due process claim that supervisory Customs employees promulgated and executed a policy and practice allowing the Customs inspectors, on nothing more than alleged reasonable suspicion, to detain plaintiffs in communicado for an indefinite amount of time and conduct non-routine personal searches without judicial authorization;
  4. A claim that supervisory employees conspired together in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) to commit the allegedly unconstitutional searches;
  5. An Administrative Procedure Act claim alleging that the officials promulgated the aforementioned policy and practice.

The case was filed in the Northern District of Illinois and assigned to Judge William Hart. In October of 1997, an individual plaintiff brought this claim. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief on a class-wide basis, and the individual named plaintiffs also sought damages.

That putative class action was voluntarily dismissed in July 1998, while the single plaintiff filed an amended complaint. Even after a third amended complaint was filed, Judge Hart denied class certification. 1999 WL 35307. No motion for class certification had ever been filed, so Judge Hart dismissed these claims without prejudice. In the same opinion, Judge Hart also dismissed the invasion of privacy claims because he found that the plaintiff’s right to privacy was not violated by the defendants’ record-keeping.

In April 1999, Judge Hart dismissed allegations against some defendants as barred under the statute of limitations. 1999 WL 258501. The parties continued to litigate and engaged in a variety of discovery disputes.

On March 10, 2000, Judge Hart certified a class consisting of “All African–American women who (a) after May 7, 1998 were and likely in the future will be or (b) will in the future be: subjected to nonroutine personal searches by United States Customs employees at O'Hare International Airport and who were or will be detained for 24 hours or less.” 199 F.R.D. 228. Judge Hart also held that customs inspectors were entitled to qualified immunity for nonintrusive searches, but denied qualified immunity to officers who conducted intrusive searches without reasonable suspicion.

Judge Hart denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity for managerial employees on March 14, 20020. 225 F.Supp.2d 834. The defendants filed interlocutory appeals, and on January 21, 2004, the Seventh Circuit reversed the district court. The Seventh Circuit held that managerial employees were entitled to qualified immunity, unless plaintiffs could show that managers (who did not target or participate in the alleged searches) displayed deliberate indifference toward the complained-of discrimination. 355 F.3d 1021.

On September 4, 2003,Judge Hart ruled on defendants' motion for summary judgment. 284 F.Supp.2d 1008. He held that at least some of the searches violated the Fourth Amendment, and also held that the plaintiffs had sufficiently showed that the defendants violated the equal protection rights of several plaintiffs. Judge Hart denied qualified immunity for the claims related to strip searches, but granted qualified immunity with regards to claims alleging that officers lacked sufficient cause for pat-down searches.

Finally, on February 3, 2006, the parties settled for $1.93 million. Attorneys fees and costs were to be taken out of this lump sum.

Jordan Katz - 10/24/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
Sex discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Over/Unlawful Detention
Pattern or Practice
Racial profiling
Search policies
Strip search policy
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
42 U.S.C. § 1985
Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 2674
Defendant(s) United States
United States Customs Service
Plaintiff Description “All African–American women who (a) after May 7, 1998 were and likely in the future will be or (b) will in the future be: subjected to nonroutine personal searches by United States Customs employees at O'Hare International Airport and who were or will be detained for 24 hours or less.”
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Filed 10/27/1997
Case Closing Year 2006
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Jail Strip-Search Cases: Patterns and Participants
http://law.duke.edu/journals/lcp
Date: Spring 2008
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University in St. Louis Faculty)
Citation: 71 Law & Contemp. Problems 65 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
N.D. Ill.
10/16/2021
1:97-cv-07556
IM-IL-0025-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Ill.
01/11/1999
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 48] (1999 WL 35307)
IM-IL-0025-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
N.D. Ill.
04/21/1999
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 82] (1999 WL 258501)
IM-IL-0025-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
N.D. Ill.
03/10/2000
Memorandum Opinion and Order (199 F.R.D. 228)
IM-IL-0025-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
N.D. Ill.
03/14/2002
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 341] (225 F.Supp.2d 834)
IM-IL-0025-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
N.D. Ill.
09/04/2003
*1016 Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 431] (284 F.Supp.2d 1008)
IM-IL-0025-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
01/21/2004
Opinion (355 F.3d 1021)
IM-IL-0025-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
N.D. Ill.
02/03/2006
Master Settlement Agreement [ECF# 474]
IM-IL-0025-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Cudahy, Richard Dickson (Seventh Circuit) show/hide docs
IM-IL-0025-0005
Easterbrook, Frank Hoover (Seventh Circuit) show/hide docs
IM-IL-0025-0005
Hart, William Thomas (N.D. Ill.) show/hide docs
IM-IL-0025-0001 | IM-IL-0025-0002 | IM-IL-0025-0003 | IM-IL-0025-0004 | IM-IL-0025-0006 | IM-IL-0025-9000
Ripple, Kenneth Francis (Seventh Circuit) show/hide docs
IM-IL-0025-0005
Plaintiff's Lawyers Fox, Edward M. (Illinois) show/hide docs
IM-IL-0025-0007
Legenza, Sharon K. (Illinois) show/hide docs
IM-IL-0025-0007
Miner, Judson Hirsch (Illinois) show/hide docs
IM-IL-0025-0007
Defendant's Lawyers Fitzgerald, Patrick J. (Illinois) show/hide docs
IM-IL-0025-0007
Haile, Jonathan C. (Illinois) show/hide docs
IM-IL-0025-0007
Kuhn, James M Sr (Illinois) show/hide docs
IM-IL-0025-0007

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