United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
JERMAIN D. LEWIS PLAINTIFF
BRANDON KENNEMORE, Ashdown Police Officer; JULIE SMITH; CARL FARMER, Ashdown Police Officer; KIMBERLY GEISER STRUBE, Ashdown Police Officer; JOESPH GOINGS, Little River Deputy; and TATUM, Little River Deputy DEFENDANTS
O. Hickey United States District Judge.
the Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Joseph
Goings. (ECF No. 52). Plaintiff has filed a response. (ECF
No. 61). The Court finds this matter ripe for consideration.
filed his Complaint on July 6, 2017. (ECF No. 1). He filed a
Supplement to the Complaint on August 11, 2017. (ECF No. 7).
Plaintiff alleges that on October 5, 2014, he was transported
to the Little River County Jail where he was “strip
searched and violated” for three hours after being
unlawfully arrested. (ECF No. 7, p. 1). Plaintiff is asserting
a claim against Defendant Joseph Goings, a deputy with the
Little River Sheriff's Department, for conducting an
unlawful strip search. Plaintiff is suing Defendant Goings in
both his individual and official capacities. He is seeking
compensatory and punitive damages.
December 21, 2017, Defendant Goings filed a Motion to
Dismiss. ECF No. 52. Defendant Goings argues that Plaintiff
has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 12(b)(6). Defendant Goings
further argues that he is entitled to qualified immunity
regarding any claim asserted by Plaintiff. (ECF No. 52). In
response, Plaintiff states that Defendant Goings forced him
to sit nude for “several hours” in book-in, which
is against the policy of the Little River County
Jail. (ECF No. 61, p. 1-2).
8(a) contains the general pleading rules and requires a
complaint to present “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “In order to meet
this standard, and survive a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6), ‘a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Braden v. Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at
678. While the Court will liberally construe a pro
se plaintiff's complaint, the plaintiff must allege
sufficient facts to support his claims. See Stone v.
Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004).
alleges he was subjected to a strip search by Defendant
Goings for almost three hours. The Fourth Amendment prohibits
unreasonable searches. Goff v. Nix, 803 F.2d 358,
363 (8th Cir. 1986). To determine whether a search is
unreasonable the Court must balance the “need for the
particular search against the invasion of personal rights
that the search entails.” Bell v. Wolfish, 441
U.S. 520, 559 (1979). In the context of a strip search
conducted in a detention center, the Court must consider (1)
the scope of the particular intrusion; (2) the manner in
which the search is conducted; (3) the justification for
initiating the search; and (4) the place where the search is
Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of
Burlington, 566 U.S. 318 (2012), the Supreme Court ruled
that correctional officers must be allowed to conduct an
effective search of detainees, even those held for minor
offenses, because correctional institutions have a strong
interest in preventing and deterring the smuggling of money,
drugs, weapons, and other contraband into the facility.
Therefore, conducting strip searches of newly arrested
inmates such as Plaintiff is constitutional on its face.
However, this kind of invasive search must be conducted in a
“reasonable manner.” Bell at 559-60.
Plaintiff alleges he was forced to sit and stand naked for
almost three hours in the “book-in” area of the
Little River County Jail. Although the strip search itself
could be justified, the alleged length of time it took
Defendant Goings to conduct the search combined with the
location of the search could be considered to be
unreasonable. Id. at 560 (stating that it is
unreasonable to conduct a strip search “in an abusive
fashion”); see also Hill v. Bogans, 735 F.2d
391, 393-94 (10th Cir. 1984) (finding the manner of a strip
search of an arrestee unreasonable where it was conducted in
a police station lobby area with “ten to twelve people
. . . milling about”). Accepting Plaintiff's
allegations as true, the Court finds that Plaintiff has
alleged sufficient facts to support a claim against Defendant
Goings argues that he is not liable for his actions in
connection with the strip search of Plaintiff because he is
entitled to qualified immunity. The case is before the Court
on Defendant Goings' Motion to Dismiss for failure to
state a claim. There is no other evidence before the Court to
determine whether or not Defendant Goings is entitled to