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Judge dismisses Bears pat-down search lawsuit

CHICAGO -- A lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality
of pat-down searches of fans before Chicago Bears games at Soldier
Field was dismissed Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Blanche M. Manning said in a three-page
ruling that the Chicago Park District lacks standing to sue because
an individual fan has not complained. The park district had said
the searches violated the prohibition on unreasonable searches
under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The city had asked Manning to block an arbitration session
scheduled for Wednesday on the search policy, which is part of a
security program adopted by the NFL.

The park district described the dispute as "a far-reaching
issue of great public importance," while the Bears argued that the
real heart of the disagreement was money.

The Bears claimed that the park district, which owns Soldier
Field, simply didn't want to pay the additional cost of having
police pat down thousands of fans arriving for games.

The park district refused to conduct the searches last season,
and the team hired a private security firm to do it. Fans were
searched before the final home game and a playoff game.

Manning noted that a court in Florida has issued a preliminary
injunction against the searches in a lawsuit filed against the
Tampa Bay Buccaneers by season-ticket holder Gordon Johnson.
Johnson argued the searches violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

That lawsuit has since been moved to a federal court.

"In Chicago, however," Manning said, "no season-ticket holder
has attempted to challenge a pat-down search."

She said it is unclear if the park district would be performing
such searches, since it has refused to do so thus far and
arbitration proceedings are pending.