On August 8, 1988, arrestees for a minor traffic violation who were subjected to a strip search filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against the Borough of Fort Lee, New Jersey and violating officers in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Plaintiffs, represented by ...
read more >
On August 8, 1988, arrestees for a minor traffic violation who were subjected to a strip search filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against the Borough of Fort Lee, New Jersey and violating officers in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked for declaratory relief that the practice and the underlying state statute be found unconstitutional, as well as damages. Plaintiffs claimed a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights, one of the plaintiffs claimed that they were held on excessive bail, and that they had been subjected to intentional infliction of emotional distress, as well as racial discrimination.
On July 10, 1987, the plaintiffs, a man and a woman, were arrested for driving on a suspended registration. Officers spotted plaintiffs' car and saw suspicious items in it, and, upon checking the registration, stopped the car and arrested the plaintiffs. They found nothing in the car. Back at the station house, the plaintiffs were given an opportunity to post bail in the amount of $525.00. Plaintiffs were unable to post bail, and prepared to be sent to Bergen County Jail for detention. Pursuant to Borough of Fort Lee policy, they were subjected to a mandatory strip search prior to overnight detention. This practice was permitted under New Jersey Law (2A:161A-1). Plaintiffs subsequently filed this action, claiming that the search was unreasonable, that bail was excessive, that they were racially discriminated against, and that one plaintiff had been subjected to intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED).
On June 5, 1990, the Court (Judge Maryanne Trump Barry) in considering the defendants' motion for summary judgment, dismissed the IIED, 8th Amendment, and racial discrimination claims, on the grounds that the claims were brought under state tort law, which shielded the employees and borough from liability in this circumstance. (739 F.Supp. 220).
The Court denied summary judgment for defendants as to one plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claim that a blanket strip search policy was unreasonable. Judge Barry was unpersuaded by the defendant's assertion that because the plaintiffs were given the opportunity to post bail, their strip search policy was not a "blanket" policy.
We have no further information about this case, except that it was closed five months later on December 19, 1990.Blase Kearney - 04/29/2012