On June 12, 1989, Plaintiffs, two juveniles, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Peachtree and two Peachtree police officers in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Georgia. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked for compensatory and punitive ...
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On June 12, 1989, Plaintiffs, two juveniles, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Peachtree and two Peachtree police officers in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Georgia. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked for compensatory and punitive damages. One plaintiff claimed Defendant Officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights when they arrested him, searched him, and impounded and inventoried his car. The second plaintiff claimed Defendant Officers violated her Fourth Amendment rights when they arrested her and ordered that she be stripped searched. Plaintiffs claimed Peachtree City adopted a policy that caused the deprivation of their constitutional rights.
According to the 11th Circuit (Justice v. City of Peachtree City, 961 F.2d 188 (11th Cir. 1992)), Defendants arrested plaintiffs for loitering and truancy. Defendant patted down the male plaintiff and then brought both plaintiffs to the police station. Two female officers then strip-searched the female, fourteen-year-old plaintiff. The officers ordered her to strip down to her panties, found no contraband, and then released her. Her charges were later dismissed.
On May 25, 1990, Defendants moved for summary judgment.
On October 9, 1990, the District Court (Judge G. Ernest Tidwell) granted summary judgment to Defendants on all issues except whether Plaintiff suffered compensatory damages from her strip search. The Court found: (1) Defendants did not violate Plaintiffs' constitutional rights; (2) the City did not have a policy, custom, or ordinance that caused a deprivation of rights; (3) Defendant Officers were protected by qualified immunity; and (4) Defendant Officers' conduct was not callously indifferent to Plaintiffs' constitutional rights and therefore Defendants were not liable for punitive damages. Plaintiffs and Defendants appealed.
On May 14, 1992, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (Judges Joseph W. Hatchett, Joel F. Dubina and John C. Godbold) affirmed. The Court found: (1) Officers searched Plaintiff in the least intrusive manner because female officers searched her in a private room and did not search her body cavities. (2) Officers had reasonable suspicion to search Plaintiff because they suspected that drinking and drug activity regularly occurred where they arrested Plaintiffs; one Officer saw the male Plaintiff give the female Plaintiff something; Plaintiff appeared extremely nervous; Defendants thought that females were more likely than males to conceal contraband on their persons; Plaintiff's friend's mother suspected the friend was using drugs; and Defendants suspected Plaintiff might have contraband on her person. Justice v. City of Peachtree City, 961 F.2d 188 (11th Cir. 1992).Shira Gordon - 03/12/2012