LaSalle County officials on Tuesday agreed to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars and change policies and training protocols to settle lawsuits filed after a female inmate claimed she was forcibly stripped of her clothes and left to sit in a cell naked.
The class-action lawsuit with six plaintiffs will be settled for $355,000, attorney Terry Ekl said. Dana Holmes of Coal City will receive the bulk of the settlement -- $125,000. Four others will each receive $30,000. A fifth plaintiff will receive $10,000.
Ekl will receive $100,000 for his work on the case.
Holmes was taken into custody on a DUI charge in May 2013. Surveillance video showed that she was removed of her clothing by four deputies and ordered to sit in a padded cell. The footage showed deputies fingerprinting and photographing Holmes more than an hour after the strip search, covering her in only a blanket.
- Oct. 2013: Woman Sues LaSalle County After Strip Search in DUI Arrest
- Oct. 2013: Special Prosecutor Ordered in Jail Strip Search Case
- Nov. 2013: Class-Action Suit Claims More LaSalle County Jail Abuse
"There was an unwritten policy that if someone was combative in the opinion of the guards, they could take their clothes off and put them in a padded cell and that's been going on for 40 years,” Ekl said.
Ekl said the deputies appeared to have violated state law for strip searching by not getting permission from a commander and not having reasonable belief Holmes had a weapon or a controlled substance.
As a part of the settlement, county officials said they'll use strip searches in many cases only as a last result and they'll maintain all surveillance tapes of strip searches in the jail for a minimum of two years.