236 F.3d 678 (11th Cir. 2000), 00-10122, Skursteinis v Jones

Docket Nº:00-10122 & 00-11469 and 00-10603
Citation:236 F.3d 678
Party Name:SANDY SKURSTENIS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. JAMES JONES, Sheriff, WAYNE WATTS, Captain, individually, et al., Defendants-Appellees. SANDY SKURSTENIS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. JAMES JONES, Sheriff, T.O. RICHEY, individually, Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:December 28, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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Page 678

236 F.3d 678 (11th Cir. 2000)

SANDY SKURSTENIS, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

JAMES JONES, Sheriff, WAYNE WATTS, Captain, individually, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

SANDY SKURSTENIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

JAMES JONES, Sheriff, T.O. RICHEY, individually, Defendants-Appellants.

Nos. 00-10122 & 00-11469 and 00-10603

IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF Appeals, FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT

December 28, 2000

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama

D. C. Docket No. 98-02295-CV-AR-S

Before TJOFLAT and BIRCH, Circuit Judges, and VINING[*], District Judge.

VINING, District Judge:

These consolidated appeals involve the constitutionality of two strip searches performed on a detainee who had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. The first search, for weapons and contraband, occurred when the detainee was booked into the jail and was conducted by a female deputy; the second search, for lice, took place the following morning and was conducted by a male nurses assistant. The district court held that both searches were unconstitutional but that the sheriff and deputy sheriff were entitled to qualified immunity with respect to the initial search; the district court further held that neither the sheriff nor the nurses assistant was entitled to qualified immunity with respect to the second search. Concluding that both searches were constitutional, we affirm in part, albeit on different grounds, and reverse in part.

I. BACKGROUND

On the evening of May 8, 1998, a Shelby County, Alabama, deputy sheriff arrested Sandy Skurstenis for driving under the influence of alcohol. Her blood alcohol registered .18 on the deputy's portable Breathalyzer and registered .15 on an intoxilyzer test administered shortly thereafter. At the time of her arrest, Skurstenis had a .38 special handgun, for which she had an expired permit, in the floorboard of her car.

After her arrest, Skurstenis was taken to the Shelby County Jail, where, because of her blood alcohol level, she was to remain until around 11:00 a.m. the following morning.1 After being booked into the jail, Skurstenis was taken to a restroom adjacent to the booking area by Deputy Stacy Blankenship, a female officer. Skurstenis was told to disrobe, to turn and face the wall, and to squat and cough. After doing this, she was given a jail uniform, was escorted by Deputy Jason Smitherman through an area where other female inmates were sleeping, and was placed in a solitary cell.

The next morning, at approximately 10:30 a.m., Skurstenis was instructed to go to the infirmary, where she encountered three other female inmates and one male, T. O. Richey, a nurses assistant,2 employed by the Shelby Baptist Medical Center. Richey worked part-time at the jail pursuant to a contract between the sheriff's office and the medical center. When he

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was finished with the other inmates, Richey asked them to leave and then informed Skurstenis that pursuant to the jail's policy, he was required to run certain tests on her. After Skurstenis signed a consent form, Richey took some blood samples from her and then told her to pull her pants down so that he could check for lice. Richey ran his fingers through the hair on her head and also through her pubic hair. At no time did he touch her genitalia. When the examination was completed, Skurstenis left the infirmary and a short time thereafter was discharged from the jail and left with her husband, who had come to get her.

Skurstenis subsequently filed this action against Sheriff James Jones, Chief Jailer Captain Wayne Watts, Deputies Jason Smitherman and Stacy Blankenship, and T. O. Richey in their individual capacities, and asserted claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for constitutional violations3 and under state law for invasion of privacy, assault, and battery.4

In ruling on the defendants' motions for summary judgment, the district court granted summary judgment to Captain Watts and Deputy Smitherman on the basis that they had no real connection to the strip search that occurred when Skurstenis was booked into the jail and that her complaint, therefore, failed to state a claim against them. The district court further held that the initial strip search violated the Skurstenis's constitutional rights but that Sheriff Jones and Deputy Blankenship were entitled to qualified immunity. Finally, the district court held that the infirmary search violated Skurstenis's constitutional rights, that Sheriff Jones was not entitled to qualified immunity, that Richey had no standing to assert qualified immunity, and that, even if he did, he would not be entitled to...

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