The settlement agreement in a lengthy class-action lawsuit between NYC and visitors to NYC jails regarding strip searches and body cavity searches is approved by courts

New York



Approved Settlement Agreement Requires NYC to Cease Strip and Body Cavity Searches on Visitors to NYC Jails and to Pay $12.5 Million In Grottano v. The City of New York, 15-CV-9242 (RMB) (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 29, 2021), the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York was asked to approve a class action settlement regarding strip searches and body cavity searches that were performed on individuals visiting New York City Department of Correction (“DOC”) facilities. The Plaintiffs sought both monetary and injunctive relief, including an order enjoining the defendants from implementing or enforcing the policy of strip-searching and/or performing body cavity searches of visitors to NYC jails.The Court called the strip searches and body cavity searches “an invidious and disturbing practice”.The case came to a close after six years of extensive discovery, motion practice, court hearings, and settlement negotiations. The proposed settlement agreement involved implementing injunctive relief to halt these searches of visitors at NYC jails and a $12.5 million settlement fund for class members.Each eligible claimant was to receive a minimum of $1,000 unless they were found with contraband, in which case they would receive $500. Class members who submitted a timely claim form and were eligible would receive approximately $4,000. However, after notice of the proposed settlement was distributed to potential class members, an unforeseen number of claims were submitted. If all the claimants were paid out, the payout per claimant was to be approximately $273 per claimant (as opposed to the estimated $4,000).With the help of a mediator, the parties provided supplemental claim notices to the original claimants. On the basis of those responses, the number of claimants was reduced, and the claimants were estimated to receive approximately $1,149 per class member.The Court approved the settlement, noting that the settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate. The Court explained that:The Settlement ensures both that the rights of visitors to NYC correctional facilities will be better protected going forward via strong injunctive relief, and it also ensures that each Class Member will receive a meaningful share of the $12.5 million Settlement Fund (and a minimum of $1,000).

April 14, 2022
Grottano v. The City of New York, 15-CV-9242 (RMB) (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 29, 2021)
Federal Courts (2nd Circuit)