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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Florida the rules are different here Chapter CXIV

Florida citizens are illegally strip searched by Seminole County police, now they are stripped of their rights to sue as part of a class action, because of a US District court judge's ruling. Such wonderful justice we have in Florida. Don't you just love this state?

Linked to- Bullwinkle, Outside the Beltway, Perri Nelson,

Judy Hagner showed up in federal court Thursday wanting to be compensated for the humiliating -- and illegal -- strip-search she said she went through two years ago at Seminole County Jail.

She left with nothing.

In doling out a total of $327,200 to 12 other people who had been strip-searched, the court ruled that Hagner didn't meet the criteria of the class-action suit.

While initial estimates predicted as many as 1,000 claims could be made against the jail -- potentially costing Seminole County millions of dollars -- only the dozen will receive settlements under a final order approved by U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Presnell.

Eight original plaintiffs will receive $40,000 each and four additional claimants will be paid $1,800 apiece.

The small number of successful claims stems from the specific circumstances surrounding the eight original plaintiffs.

They were among a group of people jailed and strip-searched in December 2004 after being directed to the wrong courtroom. County Judge John Sloop, who has since been removed from the bench, ordered their detention when they showed up late to his courtroom.

Sloop refused to rescind the arrest warrants, even after a bailiff and two other judges told him it was all a mistake. The 11 were handcuffed, shackled and taken to jail, where they were strip-searched. They spent several hours in jail before being released.

A similar incident occurred a day earlier, when seven people were jailed by Sloop after they, too, were sent to the wrong courtroom.

Three of the jailed women sought legal advice and learned they should not have been strip-searched.

An investigation by the Seminole County Sheriff's Office determined that illegal strip-searches had been occurring for years. Jailers, the investigation found, routinely strip-searched anyone remanded from the jail.

Authorities said the practice was immediately stopped, but it opened the jail and county to potentially hundreds of suits.

However, the negotiated settlement required any additional claims to involve people who were "mistakenly" jailed then illegally strip-searched.

"That shrunk the class astronomically," said Larry Hanks, one of the plaintiff's attorneys.

Hagner was not mistakenly jailed. In her case, she was picked up on a Seminole County warrant and taken to the jail.

A settlement probably couldn't have been reached without the limitation and a concession to drop claims of lengthy detainment at the jail, Hanks said. Without a negotiated settlement, the plaintiffs faced a two- to three-year court battle, and even if they succeeded, appeals could stretch the case to five years, he said.

Original estimates of potential claims were probably high, he said. With the publicity generated by the Sloop group and the lawsuit, fewer than two dozen people stepped forward, he said.

"This is wild speculation, but I think there are 15 to 20, maybe 100 people at most, that we'll never know about," he said.

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