On August 19, 1994, represented by private counsel, a group of prison visitors filed a class action civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the District of Maine, challenging the strip-search policies of the Maine Correctional Center relative to ...
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On August 19, 1994, represented by private counsel, a group of prison visitors filed a class action civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the District of Maine, challenging the strip-search policies of the Maine Correctional Center relative to prison visitors. They claimed they were subjected to unconstitutional strip searches by prison officials when the plaintiffs attempted to visit their incarcerated relatives. Plaintiffs sought damages, declaratory and injunctive relief and certification on behalf of a statewide class of individuals affected by the alleged strip-search policies of the Maine Correctional Center.
Prison officials denied the allegations and maintained that the searches were lawful as they had received information from a confidential information (and, mistakenly, believed the information had been corroborated) that plaintiffs were attempting to smuggle drugs into the prison. On November 3, 1994, the plaintiffs sought to file an amended complaint, seeking the same relief and alleging constitutional violations and common law torts arising out of the strip searches. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment and plaintiffs moved for class certification and leave to file the second amended complaint.
The pretrial motions were referred to U.S. Magistrate Judge Eugene W. Beaulieu. On September 29, 1995, he issued his report recommending granting the defendants' motion for summary judgment and denying the plaintiffs' motions for class certification and for leave to file the amended complaint.
On December 8, 1995, in an unpublished order, the district court (Judge D. Brock Hornby) adopted the recommendations of the magistrate judge and entered summary judgment in favor of the defendant prison officials, finding that they were entitled to qualified immunity. Plaintiffs appealed. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (Circuit Judge Sandra Lea Lynch) affirmed, holding that (1) constitutionality of prison-visitor strip searches was governed by the standard of reasonable suspicion, and (2) on the facts presented (reasonable reliance on a mistaken report by an experienced staff member, with no evidence of deliberate or systematic misreporting), the prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity. Wood v. Clemons, 89 F.3d 922 (1st Cir. 1996).
No further action by the parties took place in this case.Mike Fagan - 04/29/2008