On October 23, 2023, Superior Court Judge Niki Arbittier of Cumberland County (NJ) issued a preliminary approval for a Master Settlement Agreement intended to resolve a 2020 lawsuit brought by inmates who claimed that they were unlawfully strip searched upon being admitted to the county jail for non-indictable offenses. Further details on this were covered in a May 2, 2022 article titled, “Class action lawsuit certified for thousands of inmates possibly subjected to illegal strip searches at the Cumberland County Jail.”

The Master Settlement Agreement indicates that the nearly 5,000 inmates potentially forming the class can each file a claim for $450 as compensation for the alleged illegal strip searches that occurred between May 8, 2018, and May 6, 2022. The agreement also stipulates that the representing law firm, Barry, Corrado & Grassi, P.C. of Wildwood, will receive attorney fees up to $390,000, in addition to covering costs which may amount to $20,000.

Should some eligible inmates fail to file claims, the unclaimed portion of the $2,250,000 will be returned to the County. However, a sum of $200,000 is earmarked for one or more charitable entities that offer services beneficial to the class members. The specific charities will be chosen by the counsel and require court approval.

The court will consider final approval of the settlement on April 5, 2023. The case is Parrish et al v. Cumberland, Docket No. CUM-L-293-20.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]