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Rhodes, et al v. Lauderdale County, et al

Case Summary: 10-cv-2068

This is a case about the alleged violation of the civil rights of citizens of Tennessee by a sheriff. The Lauderdale County Sheriff implemented a policy authorizing citizens to be detained in the County Jail for up to 48 hours for “investigation” without being charged with a criminal offense and without having probable cause that the detainees have committed an offense. Plaintiffs, a husband and wife, were detained in separate solitary cells in the Lauderdale County Jail for over 36 hours while the sheriff allegedly investigated a burglary. They were never charged with any crime and, in fact, had a solid alibi. Plaintiffs filed this cause of action under 42 USC 1983 (the civil rights statute) and sought damages, class certification, and injunctive relief for themselves and the class.

The defendants admitted that its actions violated the 4th Amendment from the beginning. Consent orders was entered declaring the sheriff’s actions to be a violation of the 4th Amendment and holding defendants liable, certifying the class to include “any person presented by any law enforcement officer for detention in the Lauderdale County Jail, when such person at the time of presentment does not have pending criminal charges or judicial process justifying detention,” and granting injunctive relief (during the pendency of the suit, the sheriff was held in contempt for wrongfully detaining two boys for 1 ½ hours).

This video is of a bench trial (before judge) regarding the amount of damages due to the Rhodes. Mrs. Rhodes was awarded $152,000: $72,000 for her loss of liberty and $80,000 for emotional suffering. Mr. Rhodes was awarded $77,500: $72,000 for his loss of liberty, $5,000 for emotional suffering, and $500 for vacation days lost as a result of the incarceration.

Case Highlights

  • Complaint filed 1/27/2010 [Doc #1]
  • Amended Complaint filed 2/18/2010 [Doc #9]
  • Answer filed 3/22/2010 [Doc #10]
  • Consent Order Certifying Class and Granting Preliminary Injunctive Relief [Doc #18]
  • Order granting partial motion for summary judgment for plaintiffs regarding liability 11/12/2010 [Doc #27]
  • Bench Trial on Damages 6/5/2012

Case-related documents, including those referenced above, are available via the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service. For more information, visit