Civil Case Law - Ninth Circuit

Wood v. Beauclair , civ. 10-35300, -- F.3d -- (9th Cir. 2012):  Female correctional officer entered into romantic relationship with a male inmate, which included personal conversations, hugging, kissing, and touching.  After the inmate ended the affair, she began to be abusive towards him, conducting unnecessary searches and on one occasion she fondled his penis during a search.  The court found the individual officer could be liable on an Eighth Amendment claim, but facility and supervisors could not be liable under a failure to protect theory.

Austin v. Terhune, 367 F.3d 1167 (9th Cir. 2004): A male correctional officer exposed his penis to a male inmate for 30–40 seconds.  The court found this was not sufficiently serious to sustain an Eighth Amendment claim, because the officer never physically touched the inmate.

Rice v. King County, 2000 WL 1716272 (9th Cir. Nov. 15, 2000):  The court found there was no Eighth Amendment violation where a female correctional officer “shoved her hand very hard into” a male inmate's testicles during a search.

Schwenk v. Hartford , 204 F.3d 1187 (9th Cir. 2000):  Male correctional officer sexually assaulted a male-to-female transgender inmate, by entering her cell and rubbing his penis on her buttocks.  The Court found this assault was enough to establish an Eighth Amendment claim against the officer.

Blueford v. Prunty , 108 F.3d 251 (9th Cir. 1997): The court found that words alone were not enough to state an Eighth Amendment violation, and held that a male correctional officer who engaged in “vulgar same-sex trash talk” could not be held liable.

Somers v. Thurman, 109 F.3d 614 (9th Cir. 1997):  The court dismissed a male inmate’s claim where female correctional officers made sexual comments about the inmate while he showered.

Jordan v. Gardner, 986 F.2d 1521 (9th Cir.1993): The prison’s policy that required male correctional officers to conduct random, suspicionless searches on female prisoners constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.

Johnson v. Carroll , 2012 WL 2069561 (E.D. Cal. Jun. 7, 2012): A male inmate claimed a male correctional officer became aroused while conducting a pat-down search.  The court found that the inmate’s psychological injury was not objectively, sufficiently serious to state an Eighth Amendment claim. Feelings of being “demeaned,” “degraded,” annoyed,” or “offended” were not severe enough to create a constitutional violation.

Crane v. Allen , 2012 WL 602432 (D. Or. Feb. 22, 2012): A female inmate was sexually abused by a male corrections counselor, who had developed romantic feelings for her.  He was allowed to retire, and eventually convicted of sexual misconduct.  The court found that the deputy could not be held liable for deliberate indifference, as the corrections counselor had taken affirmative steps to hide the sexual activity.

Barkey v. Reinke , 2010 WL 3893897 (D. Idaho Sept. 30, 2010): A female inmate was sexually assaulted during a cross-gender pat search. The inmate had used the PREA hotline to report the incident, and therefore further exhaustion was unnecessary. The court denied both parties’ motions for summary judgment.

Smith v. Los Angeles County, 2010 WL 2569232 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 22, 2010):  A pretrial detainee claimed that he was sexually harassed during a strip search.  The court found that the search was authorized and found there was no Fourteenth Amendment violation, stating that ‘[e]ven if plaintiff believed that there was a sexual aspect to the search, more is needed.”

Hill v. Mims, 2009 WL 5198527 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 23, 2009): A male inmate complaining of lower back pain alleged that during a medical appointment a male facility physician grabbed and fondled the inmate’s genitals.  The court found that his allegation was sufficient to state an Eighth Amendment claim against the physician.

Fernandez v. Morris, 2008 WL 2775638 (S.D. Cal. Jul. 16, 2008): A male pretrial detainee was coerced into sexual activity by a male correctional officer.  The inmate contracted syphilis due to the encounter. The officer was ultimately convicted of sexual misconduct.  The court found that the county and jail could be liable on the inmate’s federal claims, while the sheriff could be held liable on state and federal claims.

Fisher v. Dizon, 2008 WL 619149 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 4, 2008):  The court found that a male correctional who poked an inmate twice in the buttocks did not violate that inmate’s Eighth Amendment rights.

Bromell v. Idaho Dep't of Corrections, 2006 WL 3197157 (D. Idaho Oct. 31, 2006):  A male inmate alleged that a male correctional officer rubbed against the inmate’s buttocks and made sexual comments.  The court found this conduct was enough to establish an Eighth Amendment violation.

Lucas v. White, 63 F. Supp. 2d 1046 (N.D. Cal. 1999):  Three female inmates in a federal facility alleged that correctional officers deliberately exposed them to sexual abuse by male inmates, including one violent rape.  The government entered into settlement negotiations with the inmates, and each received a total of $500,000.

R.G. v. Koller , 415 F. Supp. 2d 1129 (D. Hawaii 2006):  Teenage inmates at a youth correctional facility were subjected to harassment and abuse because they are, or were perceived to be LGBT.  The court found that the facility violated the youths Fourteenth Amendment rights, by creating a pervasive climate of hostility towards, discrimination against and harassment against the youths based on perceived sexual orientation, sex, and/or transgender status.  The court further found that segregating the youths based on perceived status was a violation of their due process rights.