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Case Name Elliott v. Strafford County JC-NH-0005
Docket / Court 1:98-cv-00637-JD ( D.N.H. )
State/Territory New Hampshire
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On November 17, 1998, plaintiff filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 including state law claims against Strafford County, two Strafford County officials, Transcor America, Inc. (a transportation company), two Transcor employees, and Henry County, Tennessee officials in the United States District ... read more >
On November 17, 1998, plaintiff filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 including state law claims against Strafford County, two Strafford County officials, Transcor America, Inc. (a transportation company), two Transcor employees, and Henry County, Tennessee officials in the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire. Plaintiff, represented by private counsel, alleged her constitutional rights were violated when she was strip-searched.

Plaintiff was arrested in Tennessee on a New Hampshire warrant on December 22, 1995. Plaintiff was jailed in Tennessee from December 22 until December 31, 1995. On December 28, plaintiff signed a waiver of extradition. Defendant Transcor employees conducted a body cavity strip-search of plaintiff according to Transcor's policy to strip-search all prisoners, and not due to individualized suspicion. Transcor then transported plaintiff to the Strafford County House of Corrections. During intake, plaintiff was required to undress, shower, and receive a decontamination spray. The intake form said she was strip-searched. Plaintiff was in the jail from January 7, 1996 until February 3, 1996, and from August 26, 1996 until September 8, 1996. Plaintiff was strip-searched after each court appearance and contact with visitors pursuant to county policy

On August 27, 1999, the United States District Court (Judge Joseph A. Diclerico, Jr.) dismissed plaintiff's Complaint against Henry County, Tennessee Defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction.

On October 13, 2000, Transcor defendants moved for summary judgment.

On November 6, 2000, Strafford County defendants moved for summary judgment.

On January 25, 2001, the United States District Court (Judge Joseph A. Diclerico, Jr.) granted partial summary judgment to Transcor defendants. The Court dismissed counts as to Transcor defendants relating to other defendants. The Court dismissed plaintiff's claim that Transcor denied her request to contact an attorney and denied her speedy access to the New Hampshire Courts because plaintiff stated in her deposition that she did not ask Transcor for a lawyer. The Court denied summary judgment for claims under § 1983 and New Hampshire law because it found: (1) defendant did not show defendant was entitled to qualified immunity because qualified immunity is not necessarily available to private individuals who provide governmental services, and (2) a factual issue remained as to whether the Transcor defendants had reasonable suspicion to justify the strip search. Defendants had no reasonable suspicion that plaintiff concealed contraband and plaintiff was charged with a crime not involving weapons or contraband and she was strip-searched after she spent a week in jail.

Elliott v. Strafford County, Case: 98-637-JD, 2001 WL 274767 (D.N.H. Jan. 25, 2001).

On February 7, 2001, the District Court (Judge Diclerico) granted partial summary judgment to defendants Strafford County, Strafford County Sheriff, and Superintendent of the Strafford House of Corrections. The Court denied summary judgment as to plaintiff's claim relating to her strip-search during intake. The Court found that defendants did not have reasonable suspicion that plaintiff concealed contraband because she was not charged with a crime involving contraband and because she had been in custody for more than two weeks. The Court granted summary judgment to the Strafford defendants on plaintiff's claims arising from her strip-searches after contact visits and court appearances. The Court found these strip-searches constitutional because of the possibility of smuggling contraband into prison. The Court granted the Strafford defendants summary judgment on allegations against Transcor and relating to the Tennessee defendants. Elliott v. Strafford County, Case: 98-637-JD, 2001 WL 274827 (D.N.H. Feb. 7, 2001)

On April 26, 2001, the parties agreed to private mediation.

On June 29, 2001, the parties agreed to dismissal as to the Strafford County defendants.

On July 23, 2001, the parties agreed to dismissal as to the Transcor defendants.

Shira Gordon - 03/31/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Over/Unlawful Detention
Search policies
Strip search policy
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Henry County, TN
Strafford County, NH
TransCor America, Inc.
Plaintiff Description Female plaintiff was arrested pursuant to a warrant charging her with interference with custody. In connection with her detention, plaintiff was subjected to various strip searches.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2001
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)
1:98-cv-00637-JD (D.N.H.) 02/26/2003
JC-NH-0005-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order [Regarding Transcor Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment] 01/25/2001 (2001 WL 274767 / 2001 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 1043) (D.N.H.)
JC-NH-0005-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Order [Regarding Strafford Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment] 02/07/2001 (2001 WL 274827 / 2001 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 1246) (D.N.H.)
JC-NH-0005-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Judges DiClerico, Joseph A. Jr. (D.N.H.)
JC-NH-0005-0001 | JC-NH-0005-0002 | JC-NH-0005-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Craig, James W. (New Hampshire)
JC-NH-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Beeson, Peter G. (New Hampshire)
JC-NH-0005-9000
Drescher, James H. (Tennessee)
JC-NH-0005-9000
Gardner, Donald E. (New Hampshire)
JC-NH-0005-9000
Grant, Charles K. (Tennessee)
JC-NH-0005-9000
Kruse, James L. (New Hampshire)
JC-NH-0005-9000
Pignatelli, Michael A. (New Hampshire)
JC-NH-0005-9000
Ramsdell, Michael D. (New Hampshire)
JC-NH-0005-9000
Tucker, Brian T. (New Hampshire)
JC-NH-0005-9000
Tull, Dyana C. (Massachusetts)
JC-NH-0005-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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