Current Civil Rights Cases
Mason LLP represents individuals who were strip searched following their arrest for misdemeanor crimes or minor offenses in county jails throughout the country. In these class action cases, plaintiffs allege that the defendant-counties maintained an unconstitutional policy of strip searching arrested individuals without regard to the crimes charged in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Unconstitutional strip search class action cases are currently pending in Erie County, NY; Niagara County, NY; Allegheny County, PA; Bexar County, TX; and West Virginia.
Mason LLP represents the plaintiffs in a class action against Google alleging that Google’s launch of its Buzz application violated various state and federal laws protecting electronic privacy. The introduction of Buzz was met with public outcry when Google users realized their frequent contacts and other private information was publically disclosed.
Mason LLP is involved with the proposed $1.25 billion nationwide settlement in a case on behalf of tens of thousands of black farmers who were denied equal access to U.S. Agriculture Department loan programs. The settlement addresses claims from black farmers who were excluded from participation in an earlier settlement with the government over USDA loan discrimination.
Settled Civil Rights Cases
Mason LLP has settled a number of unconstitutional strip search cases alleging that various counties’ policies of strip searching individuals arrested for minor crimes create an infringement of civil rights. Class action cases on behalf of these individuals have been settled in Rensselaer County, NY ($2.7 million settlement); Montgomery County, NY (preliminary injunction of illegal strip search practices); Philadelphia, PA ($5.9 million class settlement); and Dauhpin County, PA ($2.165 million class settlement).
Stolen VA Laptop
In May 2006, burglars stole a laptop and an external hard drive from the home of an employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The external hard drive contained the names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers of some 26.5 million veterans and their spouses. Affected veterans brought three separate federal class action suits, alleging violations of the Privacy Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Mason LLP was appointed by the Court to represent the plaintiffs as co-lead counsel.
The parties agreed to settle the case in 2009 for a $20 million fund. Class members can submit claims for 100 percent of their out-of-pocket because of the hard drive theft. Eligible claimants receive a minimum reimbursement of $75 and can receive a maximum of $1,500. After valid claims are paid out, and attorneys’ fees and other expenses are deducted, the money remaining in the fund will be split equally between two cy pres recipients, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and the Fisher House Foundation, both not-for-profit charitable organizations that help military personnel, veterans, and their families. The Court granted Final Approval of the settlement in September 2009.