Civil Case Law - Third Circuit

Ansell v. Ross Tp., 2012 WL 1038825 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 28, 2012): A male detainee claimed he was strip searched in the presence of female inmates.  The court agreed that such a search would violate the inmate’s rights, however, the court found that the inmate failed to show the Sheriff had instituted a policy or custom permitting such searches, and therefore dismissed his claim.

Brothers v. Lawrence County Prison Bd. , 2008 WL 146828 (W.D. Pa. Jan 14., 2008):  A male Muslim inmate was forced to strip in front of two female correctional employees for a medical examination, after repeatedly requesting a male employee oversee the examination. The plaintiff brought suit against the individual officers involved and the Warden.  The court found the plaintiff’s First and Fourth Amendment claims were sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss.

Delandro v. Cnty. of Allegheny , 2007 WL 81061 (W.D. Pa. Jan. 8, 2007): A female detained arrested on non-felony charges was strip searched by a female officer in a location where male and female detainees who were also being strip searched could see. The court refused to grant defendant’s motion to dismiss, finding that if true, plaintiff’s allegations were sufficient to find that defendants had violated her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches.

Shaw v. Freeman , 1991 WL 225010 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 29, 1991):  While a male inmate was being strip searched, a female correctional employee entered the room.  The court rejected the inmate’s § 1983 claim, finding that “[t]he inadvertent, momentary exposure of one's genitals to a corrections officer of the opposite sex at the end of a reasonable penalogical strip search does not amount to a constitutional violation.”

Johnson v. Pa. Bureau of Corr., 661 F. Supp. 425 (W.D. Pa. 1987): Female correctional officers were permitted to view naked male inmates.  The court recognized that “[p]rison inmates retain certain rights of privacy under the Fourth Amendment, including the right not to be viewed naked by member of the opposite sex, but that right of privacy is not unlimited.”   The court therefore found that the policy against assigning opposite sex corrections officers to posts where they would view unclothed inmates, and the policy requiring officers to announce their presence, were reasonable accommodations of the inmate’s privacy interests. The court also rejected a Muslim inmate’s First Amendment claim, finding his claim regarding his religious belief was not sincere.