Important Documents

NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION

TO:         All individuals who were subjected to a March 31, 2011 strip search that was conducted as part of a cadet training exercise at Lincoln Correctional Center.

                This notice is being sent to you by the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois to inform you that you may be an interested party in a pending civil rights class action lawsuit.  This notice concerns your rights regarding the class action lawsuit as well as how to exercise your rights.  Please read this notice carefully.

1. What is this notice about?

This notice is being sent to you to let you know about a pending class action lawsuit that has been filed in federal court in Springfield, Illinois, challenging a March 31, 2011 strip search that was conducted as part of a cadet training exercise at Lincoln Correctional Center.  You may already have received information about this lawsuit and/or communicated with the attorneys representing the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

You are being sent this notice to formally inform you that you may be a member of a class of persons affected by the lawsuit and to provide you with an opportunity to opt out of the class action if you choose to do so.

2. What is a “class action” lawsuit?

A “class action” is a lawsuit in which a few people, called “named plaintiffs,” sue for their own benefit as well as for a group of other people, called the “class” or “class members.”  The named plaintiffs try to recover a judgment, usually an amount of money, for everyone in the class.

3. What is this lawsuit about?

This lawsuit claims that a March 31, 2011 group strip search violated the class members’ rights under the United States Constitution.  The lawsuit is brought against various current and former Illinois Department of Corrections employees (“defendants”).  It seeks damages from the defendants and an injunction to prevent unconstitutional public group strip searches from occurring in the future.

The defendants admit that the searches were conducted as part of a cadet training exercise, but deny that the sole purpose of the search was to train cadets.  Defendants deny that the strip search was public.  The defendants deny that they did anything wrong and deny that they violated the class members’ constitutional rights.

The case is entitled Throgmorton et al. v. Reynolds et al., Case Number 3:12-cv-3087, in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois.  The named plaintiffs representing the classes are: Beverly Throgmorton, Delores Henry, Patricia Phillips, Jacqueline Hegwood, Sandra Brown, and Ieshia Brown.

4. Am I a class member?

You may be.  The court has certified two classes in the case.

The first class (“Class I”) consists of all individuals who were subjected to a March 31, 2011 strip search performed as part of a cadet training exercise at Lincoln Correctional Center.  The lawsuit claims that the defendants’ use of the public group strip search, and the degrading, humiliating, and unsanitary way in which it was conducted, violated the class members’ constitutional rights.  The suit seeks money damages for each member of Class I.

The second class (“Class II”) consists of all individuals who are currently incarcerated at Logan Correctional Center, and all women who will be incarcerated at Logan Correctional Center in the future.  The lawsuit claims that the Illinois Department of Corrections permits and often conducts public group strip searches during “cadet training exercises” in ways that violate citizens’ constitutional rights, and that there is a real danger that the members of Class II will be subjected to recurrent violations of their constitutional rights.  The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief for each member of Class II, to prevent any unconstitutional public group strip searches from occurring in the future.

You are a member of one or more of the classes only if you were subjected to a March 31, 2011 strip search performed as part of a cadet training exercise at Lincoln Correctional Center (Class I), and/or if you are currently or will in the future be incarcerated at Logan Correctional Center (Class II). You may be a member of Class I or Class II, both Class I and Class II, or neither class.

5. Why am I receiving this notice?

You have been sent this notice because you may be a member of Class I.  If you are a member of Class I, then you can participate in the class action and have your rights decided in this lawsuit.  Alternatively, you can “opt out” of the class action, and, if you wish, file your own lawsuit against the defendants.  This notice is being sent to you so that you can make a decision whether or not to participate in the class action.

6. What is the status of the lawsuit?

In 2013 and 2014, the Court ruled that the members of Class I and Class II can pursue their claims against the defendants as a class action.

In an April 14, 2016 order, the Court ruled that the named plaintiffs will be able to have a jury trial on their Eighth Amendment claims, but not their Fourth Amendment claims.  In that same ruling, the Court permitted the named plaintiffs to proceed against certain defendants, but not others.  The parties have stipulated and agreed that the Court’s April 14, 2016 order will be binding on all class members who do not opt out of the class action lawsuit.  To receive a copy of the April 14, 2016 order, or to speak with an attorney about the April 14, 2016 order, please see sections 8, 12, and 13, below.

It has not yet been decided whether the members of Class I are entitled to money damages on their claims, or whether the members of Class II are entitled to injunctive relief.  A jury trial in this case is currently scheduled to begin on November 14, 2016.

The fact that you are receiving this notice does not mean that the Court agrees with the position of either the plaintiffs or the defendants.

7. Am I required to hire a lawyer or take any other steps in the lawsuit?

No.  If you want to remain a member of the class, and if you wish to have your claims decided in the class action, you do not need to take any other steps.  The judge who is overseeing the class action has appointed experienced attorneys to represent the class members in the lawsuit and these attorneys will automatically pursue the case on your behalf.  You may have already communicated with those attorneys concerning this case.

The attorneys that the judge has appointed to represent the class members are Arthur Loevy, Michael Kanovitz, Jon Loevy, Tara Thompson, and Ruth Brown, all with the Chicago law firm of Loevy & Loevy.  You can reach them by calling 1-888-644-6569 (toll free) or (312) 243-5900, or by sending a letter to them at their address: 311 North Aberdeen, 3rd Floor, Chicago, IL 60607.

8. Can I hire a separate attorney?

You may, but are not required to, hire a separate lawyer to enter an appearance on your behalf in the case.  If you hire a separate lawyer to enter an appearance on your behalf in the case, your lawyer must file an appearance with the Office of the Clerk of the Court in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Springfield Division, and send copies to all other attorneys of record, postmarked no later than October 7, 2016.

You may also opt out of the class action and proceed on your own, either with or without a separate attorney.  If you do not wish to stay in the class action, you must fill out and send the enclosed “opt out” form by U.S. Mail no later than September 30, 2016 and follow the instructions in section 11.  If you choose to opt out, you may wish to consult an attorney regarding the time limit for pursuing an individual action for damages.

If you choose to opt out of the class action, the rulings in this lawsuit may still have an impact on your ability to seek injunctive relief for yourself in the future.  If you are considering opting out of this lawsuit, you should consult your own attorney about the impact this lawsuit might have on your desire to seek separate injunctive relief for yourself.  Further, as explained above, class members who do not opt out will be bound by the Court’s April 14, 2016 order, and the upcoming trial will address only the plaintiffs’ Eighth Amendment claims.  If you wish to pursue your Fourth Amendment claims, you should consult an attorney about that possibility.

If you wish to hire a separate lawyer you must do so at your own expense.  The terms for payment of fees and costs for that representation will be between you and the lawyer, and the class will not pay the fees and costs for a separate lawyer.

9. What effect will the lawsuit have on me if I stay in the class?

As explained above, class members who do not opt out will be bound by the Court’s April 14, 2016 order.  Accordingly, the upcoming trial will address only the plaintiffs’ Eighth Amendment claims.  If the jury does not find that the plaintiffs’ Eighth Amendment rights were violated, plaintiffs’ counsel may appeal the court’s order prohibiting the plaintiffs from taking their Fourth Amendment claims to trial.

Class members who do not opt out will also be bound by the results of the jury trial.  If the plaintiffs win the lawsuit against the defendants, and you are a member of Class I, you may be entitled to a portion of the damages, if any, that are awarded.  If the plaintiffs lose the case against the defendants, you will not be entitled to any money from this case and you will not be entitled to bring a separate lawsuit against the defendants.

As a reminder, only Class I is potentially entitled to money damages, so if you are a member of only Class II, you will not receive any money damages.

10. Will I have to pay any money or attorney’s fees to stay in the class?

No.  You will never be asked to pay any money out of pocket for being a member of a class.

If the plaintiffs win or if the case is settled, all costs (including court costs and attorneys’ fees) will be paid either by the State of Illinois, by the defendants, or out of the money that is recovered for the class, or by a combination of the three.  If the plaintiffs lose the lawsuit, the parties who do not individually appear will not be required to pay any fees or costs.

11. What do I need to do now?

If you wish to stay in the class action you do not need to take any further steps.  You will automatically become a member of the class.  The lawsuit and trial will be litigated on your behalf and you will be notified if the plaintiffs win the case or if there is a settlement that entitles you to money damages.

If you do not wish to stay in the class action, you must fill out and send the enclosed “opt out” form by U.S. Mail, requesting to be excluded from the class.  You must include all of the requested information in the opt-out form if you wish to be excluded from the class, including your name and mailing address.  Your opt-out form must be postmarked by no later than September 30, 2016 and must be addressed to:

Clerk, United States District Court

Case No. 3:12-cv-3087

Throgmorton v. Reynolds et al.

151 U.S. Courthouse

600 E. Monroe Street

Springfield, IL 62701

The Court will exclude from the class any member who requests exclusion.

12. Can I see a copy of the Complaint in the lawsuit?

Yes.  Copies of the Complaint in this case and of several other pleadings and papers are available on the website of Loevy & Loevy.  You can view them over the internet and print or download copies free of charge by going to http://www.loevy.com and clicking on the button for the Lincoln Class Action.  You may also review and copy all of the case documents in person at the office of the Clerk for the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, 600 E. Monroe Street, Springfield, IL 62701.  Finally, you may contact Ruth Brown at the Chicago law firm of Loevy & Loevy to request copies of the Complaint or any other pleadings and papers in the lawsuit.  You can reach Ruth Brown by calling 1-888-644-6569 (toll free) or (312) 243-5900, or by mail at: 311 North Aberdeen, 3rd Floor, Chicago, IL 60607.

13. If I have questions can I talk to a lawyer?

Yes.  If you wish to speak to an attorney about this notice or if you have other questions you may call the lawyers of Loevy & Loevy free of charge at 1-888-644-6569 during regular business hours.  You may also write the attorneys by sending a letter to:

Lincoln Class Action

c/o Ruth Brown

Loevy & Loevy

311 North Aberdeen, 3rd Floor

Chicago, IL 60607

Please identify yourself and include a return address and phone number with your letter.

14. My contact information has recently changed or will change in the future. Who should I notify in order to stay informed about the status of the class action?

To stay informed about the status of the class action, please make sure that you provide updated contact information to the lawyers at Loevy & Loevy.  To do so, you may call attorney Ruth Brown at Loevy & Loevy free of charge at 1-888-644-6569 during regular business hours.  You may also provide the information by mail at the following address:

Lincoln Class Action

c/o Ruth Brown

Loevy & Loevy

311 North Aberdeen, 3rd Floor

Chicago, IL 60607

 

Dated: July 25, 2016