On September 12, 1996, two female prisoners filed a Section 1983 lawsuit in U.S. District Court District of New Mexico, seeking damages for being subjected to strip searches by male guards at the Bernalillo County Detention Center. Plaintiffs claimed that the strip searches were unconstitutional ...
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On September 12, 1996, two female prisoners filed a Section 1983 lawsuit in U.S. District Court District of New Mexico, seeking damages for being subjected to strip searches by male guards at the Bernalillo County Detention Center. Plaintiffs claimed that the strip searches were unconstitutional and in violation of jail policy and that women at the jail were subjected to strip searches more than male prisoners. Plaintiffs asserted claims for violations of their rights secured by the Fourth Amendment, the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment and New Mexico state law.
A jury trial was held on October 27 though 30, 1997. The District Court (Magistrate Judge Don J. Svet) granted judgment as a matter of law in favor of the defendants on Counts I (Fourth Amendment claim), II (Substantive Due Process claim) and III (Equal Protection claim) on the grounds that those claims were barred by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq. Judge Svet held that plaintiffs' claimed injuries, migraine headaches and emotional distress that induced attempted suicide, did not satisfy the physical injury requirement of the PLRA. The court stated: "a few hours of lassitude and nausea and the discomfort of having her stomach pumped is no more than a de minimus physical injury." Plaintiffs also failed to exhaust their administrative remedies as further required by the PLRA. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on Count IV and a mistrial was declared. In its Memorandum Opinion and Order dated November 11, 1996, the District Court memorialized the basis for entry of judgment for defendants on Counts I, II and III.
The case was reset for trial on Count IV.
The PACER docket indicates that a settlement conference was held before Magistrate Robert J. DeGiacomo on February 9, 1998 at which time the case settled. The parties were given two weeks to prepare the necessary closing papers. On April 3, 1998, the Court granted defendants' motion to dismiss the case. We do not have copies of the closing papers, so the terms of the settlement are unknown.Dan Dalton - 11/06/2007