City to Pay $33 Million to Pretrial Detainees Illegally Strip-Searched

  • November 8, 2010

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel settled a $33 million class action lawsuit against the City of New York in a groundbreaking class action challenge to the City’s illegal practice of strip-searching all pretrial detainees at City jails. ECBAWM attorneys Richard Emery, Matthew Brinckerhoff, and Elizabeth Saylor represented approximately 100,000 pretrial detainees in this case.

The lawsuit challenged the City’s years-long policy of illegally strip-searching pretrial detainees, without the reasonable suspicion required by the Constitution. Many of those subjected to these unconstitutional searches were accused of misdemeanors like trespassing, shoplifting, or failing to pay child support. In the words of ECBAWM founding partner Richard Emery, “There was no reason to believe they were concealing drugs or anything else.” Even worse, all female detainees in DOC facilities were subjected to coerced gynecological exams without basis, without informed consent, and under threat of punishment. In addition to the significant monetary reward, the settlement forced the City to permanently end this egregious policy. To read the New York Times’ coverage of the settlement, click here.