Federal judge awards $440,000 in forced catheterization suit

A federal judge has approved legal settlements totaling $440,000 for people in South Dakota who were subjected to forced catheterizations to check for drug use

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- A federal judge has approved legal settlements totaling $440,000 for people in South Dakota who were subjected to forced catheterizations to check for drug use.

U.S. District Judge Roberto Lange ruled in April that police who used forced catheterizations violated the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. The lawsuit named the state Highway Patrol, individual officers, and the cities and police departments of Wagner, Pierre and Sisseton.

The ACLU of South Dakota and a Rapid City lawyer filed the case on behalf of people suspected of drug use who were subjected to forced catheterizations to obtain urine samples. Police had obtained search warrants for the urine samples.

Lange wrote in a 106-page opinion that the practice to prove low-level drug crimes was “a highly invasive — and in these cases — degrading medical procedure.”

Five people were awarded settlements between $75,000 and $99,000 for damages and legal costs.