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Thousands of women stand to gain shares of $6.25 million from Miami-Dade County after a federal judge said he’d approve a settlement of a lawsuit alleging that police illegally strip-searched female prisoners. About 10,000 women who were strip-searched after being picked up on prostitution or other minor charges — and prior to their first appearances before a judge — are entitled to receive payments of $1,000 to $3,000 under the settlement given preliminary approval Monday by U.S. District Judge of the Adalberto Jordan of the Southern District of Florida. Another 100,000 women as well as some men who were arrested on more serious charges, and strip-searched without advance written authorization as required by state law, are entitled to receive $10 each. Notice of the settlement will be published in newspapers and on the radio. The total payout for all verified claims is $4.55 million. If claims go higher, payments to class members will be proportionately reduced. Five women who represented the class — Judith Haney, Liat Mayer, Jamie Loughner, Darcy Smith and Amanda Wells — will divide another $300,000 if Judge Jordan gives final approval to the settlement at a Sept. 23 fairness hearing. The arrests of Haney, Meyer and Loughner led to the discovery of the unlawful strip searches, lawyers said. Court papers identify the three women as “activist opponents of globalization” who were arrested on charges of failing to disperse after a peaceful protest at the Free Trade Area of the Americas conference in downtown Miami in November 2003. “Other women later joined the lawsuit and through discovery exposed that illegal strip-searches have been standard operating procedure for over seven years,” Randall C. Berg Jr., an attorney who represented the women, said in a statement. The three attorneys who represent the class will split $1 million legal fees, plus $100,000 in costs. The lawyers are Mark E. Merin of Dickstein & Merin in Sacramento, Calif., Andrew C. Schwartz of Casper Meadows & Schwartz of Walnut Creek, Calif., and Berg, executive director of the Florida Justice Institute in Miami. The Miami-Dade Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ended its practice of strip-searching all females charged with prostitution on Feb. 8, according to court papers. Three weeks later, the department also ended the practice of strip-searching detainees charged with felonies prior to obtaining written authorization. In the settlement agreement, Miami-Dade County denied all allegations of wrongdoing or liability. The deal was made “to avoid costly litigation,” the agreement says. Assistant County Attorneys Susan Torres and Jeffrey Ehrlich represented the county.

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