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No Class Actions for Undocumented CPD Detentions

A federal judge has ruled that those improperly detained at a notorious Chicago Police Department facility may not band together to sue the city. US District Judge Robert Dow said a pair of class actions involving the CPD’s Homan Square center failed to satisfy procedural guidelines around the certification of grouped complaints. Home to SWAT, narcotics and organized crime units, the West Side compound operated on different rules than district station houses. The suits allege a host of civil rights abuses, including secret arrests and torture, that fall under Fourth Amendment search and seizure prohibitions.

Dow cited provisions in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 that require each member of a class to be subject to the same legal question in denying certification to suits involving undocumented detentions at Homan Square. He said the wide array of abuses alleged by individuals grouped in the classes prevented the unified suits from moving forward. The ruling forces petitoners to proceed individually in bringing legal action against the department for failing to record detentions and post that information in the department’s online database. Dow did not address class actions involving conditions of confinement at the center, which has no lock-up and where detainees allege having spent hours handcuffed in interrogation rooms and denied bathroom visits.