LaSalle County Settles Strip Search Lawsuits

County will also change policies, training procedures in wake of class-action suit

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.

"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.

Contact Us