Hundreds strip-searched in Meeker County to be compensatedby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Hundreds of low-level offenders who had been strip-searched while being booked into the Meeker County jail between 2002 and 2008 will begin receiving their shares of a $1.75 million settlement with the county beginning next month.
Most of the settlement, which was approved by a federal judge in an order issued earlier this month, will be shared by 389 people who filed initial claims. The judge extended a deadline so that others can submit claims for a smaller portion of the settlement through Nov. 24.
Gail Simpson of Big Lake filed the initial lawsuit in March 2008, and the case was given class-action status. Simpson had been booked into the Meeker County jail five times for things like traffic violations and misdemeanor theft.
According to the lawsuit, Simpson was strip-searched each time, and jail staff photographed her breasts during one of the searches.
Meeker County did not admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement, but the county's search policy has since changed so that only felony-level offenders, and those charged with misdemeanors involving weapons or drugs, can be strip-searched.
Meeker County told the West Central Tribune in a written statement that it was able to settle the case within the limits of its insurance coverage provided by Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust.