This strip search case was brought in May 1984 by a pretrial detainee against Baltimore County police officers in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. The plaintiff was an off-duty deputy sheriff who was arrested for disorderly conduct after police officers refused to release him when he identified himself as a fellow law enforcement officer. He had been drinking and tripped, knocking himself unconscious. When police officers found and revived him, he was lying on top of a .38 caliber revolver, and a briefcase that contained additional ammunition. At the station, oficers handcuffed him, then strip searched him. Plaintiff sued, claiming, among other things, false imprisonment, false arrest, and an unconstitutional strip search.
On December 9, 1885, the Court (Judge Herbert F. Murray) granted summary judgment on various of plaintiff's claims as to various defendants and the remainder, including the strip search claim, went to a jury trial. The jury found in plaintiff's favor on the strip search claim, and awarded $2000 in compensatory damages and $5000 in punitive damages against the individual officers. Defendants moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and the Court denied the motion, as the question of reasonableness of the search was for the jury.
The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (among other issues) upheld the District Court's decision as to whether the reasonableness of the search was for the jury and upheld the verdict. Abshire v. Walls, 830 F.2d 1277 (4th Cir. 1987)Denise Heberle - 04/17/2012