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Bourbeau v. Pierce

March 16, 2006

RICHARD BOURBEAU, STEVE ALLEN, PERCY MYRICK, AND KENYATTE FREEMAN, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
GUY PIERCE AND J. BLUMENSTOCK, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

Before the Court is defendants Guy Pierce and Jaret Blumenstock's ("Defendants") motion for summary judgment (Doc. 123). In this action, Plaintiffs Richard Bourbeau, Steve Allen, Percy Myrick, and Kenyatte Freeman ("Plaintiffs") challenge the conditions they experienced during their confinement at Lawrence Correctional Center, beginning in August 2002. They claim that the Defendants subjected them to repeated strip searches that violated their rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, portions of the Illinois Constitution, and state laws. Specifically, they claim that they were unnecessarily strip searched after each work shift under circumstances that were degrading and humiliating. Plaintiffs seek injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as compensatory and punitive damages for mental and emotional injuries (Docs. 25, 54).

Defendants seek judgment in their favor on Plaintiffs' various claims and assert qualified immunity as a defense to the claims for damages. In response, Freeman argues that the motion is premature. All plaintiffs argue that material facts remain in dispute and that the defendants are not entitled to judgment in their favor and are not immune from a damage award.

On February 24, 2006, Magistrate Judge Frazier submitted a Report (Doc. 146), recommending that the undersigned District Judge grant in part and deny in part Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Doc. 123). Specifically, Judge Frazier recommended that this Court should, at the close of this case, enter judgment in favor of Defendants on the § 1983 claims asserted by Freeman. Further, Judge Frazier recommended that judgment should also be entered in favor of Pierce on the Eighth Amendment claims asserted by Bourbeau, Myrick, and Allen. Finally, Judge Frazier recommended that monetary damages on the § 1983 claims should be restricted to nominal and, if appropriate, punitive damages.

Judge Frazier's Report was sent to the parties with a "NOTICE" informing them of their right to appeal by way of filing "objections" on or before March 15, 2006. To date, two parties, Percy Myrick (See Doc. 146) and Steve Allen (See Doc. 148) have filed objections with this Court.

Myrick and Allen's objections being timely, this Court must undertake de novo review of the portions of the Report to which specific Objections were made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); FED.R.CIV.P. 72(b); Southern District of Illinois Local Rule 73.1(b); Govas v. Chalmers, 965 F.2d 298, 301 (7th Cir. 1992). The Court may accept, reject or modify the recommended decisions, or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. FED.R. CIV.P.72(b); Local Rule 73.1(b); Willis v. Caterpillar, Inc., 199 F.3d 902, 904 (7th Cir. 1999).

Myrick objects to Judge Frazier's Report in three respects: (1) Myrick asserts that Pierce should not be entitled to summary judgment on his Eighth Amendment claim; (2) Myrick argues that he should be entitled to seek compensatory damages on his claims; and (3) Myrick asserts that he has asserted tort claims for sexual misconduct under Illinois law.

Allen raises four points: (1) Allen asserts that summary judgment should not be granted in favor of Defendants on his Fourth and Fifth Amendment claims, (2) like Myrick, Allen asserts that Pierce should not be entitled to summary judgment on his Eighth Amendment claim, (3) as does Myrick, Allen argues that he should be entitled to seek compensatory damages on his claims, and (4) Allen object to Magistrate Judge Frazier's recommendation in regards to the Plaintiffs' state law claims for unreasonable search and seizure.

As to Allen's first and fourth "objections," Judge Frazier recommended that this Court deny the Defendants' motion for summary judgment on Plaintiffs' Fourth and Fifth Amendment claims, as well as the Plaintiffs' state law claims for unreasonable search and seizure. Accordingly, the Court believes Allen's "objections" on these issues are the result of a misunderstanding of the summary judgment procedure and will disregard these portions of Allen's objection.

Factual History

In late summer of 2002, defendants Pierce and Blumenstock discovered inmate thefts from the dietary department at Lawrence Correctional Center. They determined that inmates were stealing food to make "hooch," a home-made intoxicant. Inmate manufacture and possession of "hooch" is prohibited because of the negative effect intoxicants have on institutional safety and security. Shortly after the thefts were discovered, defendant Pierce ordered security staff to strip search third-shift inmate dietary workers at the end of each shift. Prior to this time, inmate dietary workers were subjected to pat-down searches and were monitored with video surveillance cameras. These efforts proved ineffective in preventing food theft.

Defendants Pierce and Blumenstock selected a storage room as the location for the strip searches, believing that the room offered an acceptable degree of privacy. They did not believe video cameras recorded activity inside the storage room. The storage room had no windows in the walls; however, there were large windows in two doors and possibly an opening in one wall. Defendants Pierce and Blumenstock arranged for security staff to take inmates to the storage room to undress and be searched but made no attempt to cover the windows or opening. They did not ask female staff members to search inmates.

The strip searches began in late August, 2002. Inmates were searched alone or in groups by one or more correctional officers. Additional officers stood outside the doors and observed the searches. The searching officers wore gloves and typically searched the front of the inmate, instructed the inmate to turn around and bend over, and then searched the inmate from behind. Although contraband items were not discovered as a result of the strip searches, the searches continued through April, 2003.

Female officers observed and performed some of the strip searches. Some officers physically touched the inmates during the search by using their hands to lift genitals or spread buttocks. Some officers joked, made wisecracks, or taunted the inmates.

Defendants Pierce and Blumenstock observed male officers conduct the strip searches on occasion. Defendant Pierce did not see female officers observe or perform strip searches. Neither Pierce nor Blumenstock saw correctional officers touch inmates during a search. Neither ...


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