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Case Name Smith v. Dawson County, NE JC-NE-0004
Docket / Court 86-L-851 ( D. Neb. )
State/Territory Nebraska
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
In 1986, a man who had been an arrestee and a inmate at the Dawson County Jail in Lexington, Nebraska filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against the county sheriff, the county, and various officers in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska. The plaintiff sought damages and an ... read more >
In 1986, a man who had been an arrestee and a inmate at the Dawson County Jail in Lexington, Nebraska filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against the county sheriff, the county, and various officers in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska. The plaintiff sought damages and an injunction, claiming that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated. Specifically, the Plaintiff alleged that the blanket policy of strip searching and spraying all detainees with insecticide constituted an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.

On March 2, 1984, the Plaintiff was arrested for failing to submit to a breath test during a stop for driving while intoxicated. While he was detained in the Dawson County Jail, officers brought him into private, ventilated room and ordered him to disrobe. They subsequently inspected his body for any open sores or signs of contagion, ordered him to cover his face with a towel, and sprayed him from head-to-toe, especially the genital and anal areas, with an insecticide meant to kill crab and head lice. The procedure was repeatedin January of 1986 when the plaintiff was arrested for driving on a suspended license.

When Plaintiff was serving a sentence at the Dawson County Jail, he was subjected to daily strip-searches and insecticide dousing, because he was on daily work release. The County alleged that this practice was to abate the public health risk of outbreaks at the jail.

On August 4, 1987, in, the magistrate judge recommended that the Court (Judge Lyle E. Strom) grant Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, holding that the policy and practice of requiring disrobing and spraying of insecticide constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment, and that the county's purported justification was not reasonable. The Magistrate recommended summary judgment for the two officer defendants, as Monell liability did not attach to them.

We have no further information about this case.

Blase Kearney - 04/29/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
General
Search policies
Strip search policy
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Dawson County Jail
Plaintiff Description A male arrested for driving under the influence who refused to submit to a breath test was later strip-searched and sprayed with insecticide at the Dawson County Jail. This was a blanket procedure for all incarcerated individuals.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Unknown
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Unknown
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies After Decision: Implementation of Judicial Decrees in Correctional Settings
Written: Oct. 01, 1977
By: M. Kay Harris & Dudley P. Spiller (Temple University)
Citation: (1977)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  Jail Strip-Search Cases: Patterns and Participants
http://law.duke.edu/journals/lcp
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University in St. Louis)
Citation: 71 Law & Contemp. Problems 65 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Report and Recommendation 08/04/1987 (1987 WL 46833) (D. Neb.)
JC-NE-0004-0001 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges None on record
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers None on record
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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