The lawsuit of a gender-nonconforming inmate in New Jersey who claimed she was subjected to an illegal body-cavity search recently was settled for $60,000.
In 2015, Carmella Palladini was temporarily incarcerated at the Cumberland County Jail in Bridgeton for alleged drug-related offenses.
On April 13, 2015, a jail nurse allegedly searched Palladini’s vagina, to ensure there “wasn’t a penis inside,” according to Palladini’s suit — which was filed six months later in New Jersey Superior Court.
The jail nurse failed to obtain Palladini’s consent to search her vagina, according to the suit.
“[Palladini] did not consent to the search for a penis inside her vagina,” the suit states. “The illegal body-cavity search was done solely to embarrass and humiliate [Palladini].”
The jail nurse “violated [Palladini’s] body by digitally penetrating her vagina,” according to the suit.
Nearby jail staffers allegedly laughed during the incident. After “fishing around” inside Palladini’s vagina, the jail nurse allegedly told other staffers: “She doesn’t have a penis but I still can’t tell if she’s a woman.”
Prior to the unauthorized search, correctional officers, nurses and other staffers routinely “harassed and humiliated [Palladini] by saying she was a man,” according to the suit.
Palladini was subjected to comments by jail staffers such as, “Oh God, he’s back,” and “Hey, man,” according to the suit.
At the jail, staffers frequently told Palladini she was a “man dressed in women’s clothing,” according to the suit.
Last month, Palladini received $60,000 from the county’s insurance carrier due to a settlement of her suit. An undisclosed amount of the money will cover the fees of her attorney, Matthew S. Wolf.
“The matter was resolved to the mutual satisfaction of all concerned,” said Wolf, who declined additional comment.
Cumberland County officials didn’t acknowledge any wrongdoing, according to terms of the settlement, which was released April 7.
The law firm of Madden & Madden, based in Haddonfield, represented Cumberland County in the matter. The firm couldn’t be reached for comment.
Justin F. Robinette, an attorney who’s represented several gender-nonconforming litigants, praised the settlement. Robinette wasn’t involved in Palladini’s litigation.
“As someone who often fights for the rights of gender-nonconforming people, it’s very heartwarming to learn of this settlement,” Robinette told PGN. “How great that the young lady’s right to bodily integrity ultimately was vindicated. This is a significant settlement that should put people on notice. Gender-nonconforming individuals are to be treated like everyone else. My best wishes to Ms. Palladini in her future endeavors.”