Cates v. Stroud, No. 18-17026 (9th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in an action brought by plaintiffs under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and state law, alleging that her constitutional rights were violated when she was, among other things, subjected to a strip search upon arriving at a prison to visit her boyfriend.
The panel held that the defendant who performed the strip search violated plaintiff's rights under the Fourth Amendment where defendant subjected plaintiff to the search without giving her the option of leaving the prison rather than being subjected to the search. However, the panel held that defendant is protected by qualified immunity because there has been no controlling precedent in this circuit, or a sufficiently robust consensus of persuasive authority in other circuits, holding that prior to a strip search a prison visitor—even a visitor as to whom there is reasonable suspicion—must be given an opportunity to leave the prison rather than be subjected to the strip search. Furthermore, because there is little to no likelihood that plaintiff might again be subjected to a strip search under comparable circumstances, prospective declaratory and injunctive relief are unavailable. Finally, plaintiff's other alleged causes of action all fail.