631 F.2d 91 (7th Cir. 1980), 79-2116, Doe v. Renfrow

Docket Nº:79-2116.
Citation:631 F.2d 91
Party Name:Diane DOE, etc., et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Omer RENFROW, etc., et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:July 18, 1980
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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631 F.2d 91 (7th Cir. 1980)

Diane DOE, etc., et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,


Omer RENFROW, etc., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 79-2116.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

July 18, 1980

Argued April 3, 1980.


Rehearing Denied Appellees Aug. 1, 1980.

Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc Denied Appellants Nov. 3, 1980.

See 635 F.2d 582.

Joseph A. Morris, Chicago, Ill., for plaintiffs-appellants.

Rhett L. Tauber, Merrillville, Ind., for defendants-appellees.

Before CUMMINGS, SPRECHER and BAUER, Circuit Judges.


In May 1979, plaintiff Diane Doe, a student at Highland Junior High School in Highland, Indiana, and four other students 1 filed a civil rights complaint under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343(3) and 1343(4). The defendants were Omer Renfrow, Superintendent of the Highland, Indiana, Town School District; George Kurteff, Principal of the Highland Junior High School; five members of the Highland Town School District Court; Al Prendergast, Highland Police Chief; and Patricia Little, a trainer of drug-detecting canines. 2 Plaintiff requested a class certification of other students at Highland High School and Highland Junior High School. The gravamen of the complaint was that plaintiff and others were illegally sniffed by police dogs during school hours and pocket-searched if a dog alerted

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to them in order to determine whether they possessed controlled substances and contraband. As part of the drug investigation, plaintiff alleged that she and three other students "were compelled to remove their clothing and submit to visual inspection by defendants' agents" (Par. 17 of complaint).

The complaint also charged that 2,780 students at Highland High School were subject to the canine sniffing and that 17 of them thereafter "were summarily suspended, expelled, or compelled to withdraw from attendance at school" (Par. 16). According to plaintiff, defendants' practice was "unsupported by particularized facts, reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that any of the persons" subject to the canine drug investigation would possess controlled substances (Par. 28). Alleging that defendants' acts violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments in particular, Diane Doe sought $50,000 in actual damages and an equal amount in punitive damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief.

A hearing was held on June 7, 1979, with respect to various motions of the parties. On August 30, 1979, Judge Sharp dismissed the action on the merits as to the Highland police chief and dog trainer Patricia Little because they did not participate in the strip search. He granted defendant school officials summary judgment on the issue of monetary damages for the body search of Diane Doe. 3 However, he held that she was entitled to declaratory relief upon the court's finding that the nude body search was made without a finding of reasonable cause and in violation of her Fourth Amendment rights. The judgment denied all other aspects of her prayer for declaratory relief, denied her motion for a permanent injunction and denied class certification. The judgment was supported by a lengthy, thoughtful opinion reported in 475 F.Supp. 1012. 4

Defendants have not appealed from the trial court's ruling that the nude search of Diane Doe was without reasonable cause to believe she possessed contraband. Because this ruling was not appealed, we will not consider the argument contained in Part V of the brief of amicus curiae Indiana School Boards Association.

For the reasons given in Judge Sharp's scholarly opinion, which we adopt as our own, the judgment is affirmed except with respect to the portion of the decision that the defendant school officials are immune from liability arising out of the nude search because they had a "good faith" defense as articulated in Wood v. Strickland, 420 U.S. 308, 95 S.Ct. 992, 43 L.Ed.2d 214. The Wood case found that school officials who act "in good-faith fulfillment of their responsibilities and within the bounds of reason under all the circumstances" and "not in ignorance or disregard of settled indisputable...

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