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Case Name Varrone v. Bilotti JC-NY-0040
Docket / Court 1:92-cv-01290-JG-JLC ( E.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On March 19, 1992, plaintiff filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of New York in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The Plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for damages, claiming that his Fourth Amendment rights had been ... read more >
On March 19, 1992, plaintiff filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of New York in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The Plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for damages, claiming that his Fourth Amendment rights had been violated. Specifically, plaintiff claimed that being required to submit to strip-searches when he was visiting his father in prison was an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.

On March 8, 1989, plaintiff's father was incarcerated at the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility managed by the Department of Correctional Services in the state of New York. When the plaintiff was visiting his father on March 8, one corrections officer ordered him into a side room where he was visually strip and cavity searched. He was then detained in the Special Housing Unit, a solitary confinement area of the jail for 27 hours, so the corrections officers could investigate the content of his feces. On a subsequent visit, the plaintiff was strip searched again, but this time he was required to sign a consent form, and there were signs posted that informed visitors that strip searches could be made a condition of visitation.

On October 6, 1994, The Court (Judge John Bartels) ruled, granting the plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint and denying the defendants' motion for summary judgment. (867 F.Supp. 1145). The Court found that the plaintiff retained an expectation of privacy when in the Arthur Kill facility, that he had not waived his rights by signing a consent form, and that the defendants had failed to show there was any objective fact to suggest the plaintiff had been smuggling drugs. There was therefore a genuine issue of material fact regarding the reasonable suspicion for the search under Bell v. Wolfish.

On May 10, 1996, after another round of denial of motions for summary judgment, the defendants filed in interlocutory appeal on the basis of qualified immunity to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

On August 18, 1997, Judge Daniel Friedmann, writing for the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Judge Friedmann, Judge Amayla Kearse, Judge Jon Ormand) found that the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. (123 F.3d 75). The Court reasoned that because a District Attorney for Kings' County had communicated that they had received reliable information that plaintiff would attempt to smuggle drugs into the jail, the corrections officers were acting on reasonable suspicion, even though the source of the tip was unknown. Therefore, because the law was not clearly established on the question of whether or not an attorney communicating unsourced information about drug smuggling constitutes reasonable suspicion, defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. The case was remanded to the district court, with an Order to dismiss the case.

Blase Kearney - 05/09/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
General
Over/Unlawful Detention
Search policies
Strip search policy
Visiting
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Arthur Kill Correctional Facility
New York Department of Correctional Services
Plaintiff Description Wife and son of solitary confinement inmate who were strip-searched when visiting him in jail.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 1998
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)
1:92-cv-01290-JG-JLC (E.D.N.Y.) 03/11/1998
JC-NY-0040-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
96-2368 (U.S. Court of Appeals) 01/12/2001
JC-NY-0040-9001.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
96-2382 (U.S. Court of Appeals) 01/12/2001
JC-NY-0040-9002.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum-Decision and Order [Dismissing Some Claims] 09/22/1993 (851 F.Supp. 54) (E.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0040-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum-Decision and Order [Re: Additional Defendants; Summary Judgment] 10/06/1994 (867 F.Supp. 1145) (E.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0040-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 08/18/1997 (123 F.3d 75)
JC-NY-0040-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Bartels, John Ries (E.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0040-0002 | JC-NY-0040-0003
Caden, John L. (E.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
JC-NY-0040-9000
Friedman, Daniel Mortimer (Fed. Circuit, )
JC-NY-0040-0001 | JC-NY-0040-9001 | JC-NY-0040-9002
Gleeson, John (E.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0040-9000
Kearse, Amalya Lyle (Second Circuit)
JC-NY-0040-0001 | JC-NY-0040-9001 | JC-NY-0040-9002
Newman, Jon Ormond (Second Circuit, D. Conn.)
JC-NY-0040-0001 | JC-NY-0040-9001 | JC-NY-0040-9002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Butler, Thomas E. (New York)
JC-NY-0040-0001
McCarthy, Bernard (New York)
JC-NY-0040-0001 | JC-NY-0040-0002 | JC-NY-0040-0003 | JC-NY-0040-9000 | JC-NY-0040-9002
Suryananayan, Sankar (New York)
JC-NY-0040-0001
Woodhouse, Nancy L. (New York)
JC-NY-0040-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Abrams, Robert W. (New York)
JC-NY-0040-0002 | JC-NY-0040-0003 | JC-NY-0040-9000
Lambeson, Kevin J. (New York)
JC-NY-0040-0001 | JC-NY-0040-9001
Lieberman, Frederic L. (New York)
JC-NY-0040-0002 | JC-NY-0040-0003 | JC-NY-0040-9000
Vacco, Dennis C. (New York)
JC-NY-0040-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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