Echeverry and Cole filed a lawsuit in 2003 challenging the legality of the Broward Sheriff’s Office strip search policy under then Sheriff Kenneth C. Jenne. The case was certified as a class action in 2005. Jenne had instituted a written policy that mandated the strip search of all misdemeanor arrestees regardless of whether the arrests involved weapons, drugs or stolen property. The lawsuit alleged that there was no probable cause for such strip searches and such actions were therefore unconstitutional. Evidence adduced indicated that thousands of persons were illegally strip searched. The case was certified as a class action in 2005 and upheld on appeal to Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal. Thereafter, the parties engaged in arduous and complicated settlement negotiations that spanned over a year and culminated in an $11.5 million settlement. Each class representative plaintiff received $50,000, and each class member who qualified received $1000. The settlement agreement also provided $2.5 million in attorneys’ fees. As a result, Betensky and two other shareholders, Richman and Garcia-Linares, were selected as The Most Effective Lawyers for 2008 in the category of class action law by The Daily Business Review for the success achieved in this major civil rights lawsuit.
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