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Edwards v. Bybee

United States District Court, D. Oregon

December 4, 2014

A. BYBEE, et al., Defendants.


ANN AIKEN, District Judge.

Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC), currently incarcerated at the Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendants violated his Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment when they subjected him to an "abusive" strip search. Defendants now move for Summary Judgment (#18).


The party's allegations concerning the incident giving rise to plaintiff's claims differ significantly. Defendants allege that on August 24, 2014, plaintiff was standing in line with other inmates waiting to see a movie when defendant Johnston selected five inmates from the group "congregating around the dining hall for unclothed searches" and directed the remaining inmates to disperse until the movie had been announced. Johnston states "When a large group of inmates assembles in an area not designated by staff or assignment, the concern for unauthorized organization exists as that is one way to make it easier to pass contraband." Johnston Declaration (#20) p. 2. Defendant Bybee directed a group of about 30 inmates to disperse because they "were crowding around the weightlifting equipment and were not authorized to congregate at that location." Declaration of Amy Bybee (#19) ¶5. Defendant Bybee states that plaintiff became argumentative and stated, "Take me to R & D. I got searched every day in the Dominican. I don't care." Id. <][6. defendant="" bybee="" then="" escorted="" plaintiff="" to="" a="" private="" area="" where="" was="" searched="" by="" defendant="" johnston.="" defendant="" bybee="" states="" that="" plaintiff's="" behavior="" in="" "volunteering="" to="" be="" searched="" drew="" attention="" and="" suspicion"="" to="" him="" which="" resulted="" in="" plaintiff="" being="" subjected="" to="" an="" unclothed="" search.=""> Id.

Plaintiff describes the incident as follows: Plaintiff states that while waiting in line for the movie, defendant Johnston asked for volunteers to help with the movie set-up. Several inmates volunteered and were selected by Johnston. However, instead of having the volunteers help with the movie set-up, defendant Johnston took them to "R&D" [Receiving and Discharge] to be strip searched. Defendant Johnston then ordered the remaining inmates not to stand in line until the movie was announced. Declaration in Opposition (#44) p. 2. The inmates who where waiting in line, then walked over to the weight-lifting area to wait until the movie was announced. Id. Defendant Bybee then ordered the inmates not to wait in the weight-lifting area. Plaintiff states that after being told not to wait in the weight-lifting area he asked defendant Bybee where she wanted him to wait because the "yard was open and as such inmates were authorized to be in the weightlifting area." Plaintiff's Declaration in Opposition (#45) p. 2. Plaintiff disputes that he "volunteered" to be searched and states that he was never told that the search was a result of suspicion that he may have possessed contraband. Plaintiff Brief (#43) p. 2. Plaintiff states that defendant Johnston told him that the reason he was subjected to a strip search is that Johnston had a "pet peeve" with inmates standing in line before the movie line was announced.

It is undisputed that no contraband was found on plaintiff. Johnston Declaration (#20) ¶ 7.

Subsequently plaintiff filed a grievance alleging that defendants' alleged conduct violated department policies and procedures and violated plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights. Defendant Kennedy investigated plaintiff's grievance and concluded that plaintiff was in an unauthorized area, that plaintiff volunteered to be stripped/skinned searched as a decoy for other inmates to take contraband into the movie, and that Bybee and Johnston's actions were consistent with department policies and procedures.

Under Oregon Administrative Rule§ 291-041-0020(4), an "inmate may be subject to search at any time; but no more frequently than is necessary to control contraband or to recover stolen or missing property."

Plaintiff's claims

Plaintiff alleges that defendants Bybee and Johnston "stripped skin searched" plaintiff without a reasonable suspicion that plaintiff possessed contraband and that the search was "done maliciously and sadistically as a form of punishment and constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Fourth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution." Complaint (#2) p. 5-6.

Plaintiff alleges that the failure of defendants Gower, Brown and Kennedy to "take disciplinary actions to curb the known patterns of abuse of inmates by defendants Bybee and Johnston constituted deliberate indifference to the plaintiff's and other prisoners' safety, and contributed to and proximately caused the abuse described violation of plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights." Id. p. 7.

Plaintiff alleges that "the actions of defendant Kennedy finding that through his alleged investigation as the ore that defendants Bybee and Johnston's actions were in line with department policies and procedures * * * * constituted a coverup, deliberate indifference to plaintiff's safety in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution." Id. p. 7.

Plaintiff seeks damages and injunctive relief. ...

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