Ingram et al v. Cole County et al
ORDER. The Defendants' motion to dismiss is granted and the alternative request to strike certain allegations is denied as moot. [Doc. 16.] Signed on 9/24/15 by District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey. (Matthes, Renea)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
FINEOLA INGRAM, et al.,
COLE COUNTY, et al.,
Plaintiffs Fineola Ingram, Justin Simmons, and Brian Boykin sue on behalf of themselves
and a putative class of persons who are, or were, detained at the Cole County, Missouri
Detention Center. They allege the jail’s clothing policies violate their rights under the United
States and Missouri Constitutions. They sue Defendant Cole County, Missouri, which operates
the jail, and Defendants Cole County Sheriff Greg White and Chief Deputy Sheriff John
Wheeler, who are the jail administrators. The Defendants move to dismiss the complaint in its
entirety, or in the alternative to strike certain allegations. [Doc. 16.] The motion to dismiss is
granted, and the remainder of the motion is denied as moot.
Plaintiff Boykin was detained in the jail in March 2015, and remained detained there
through at least the time of filing of the Complaint. Plaintiff Ingram was detained in the jail
beginning in November 2013, for about 85 days. Plaintiff Simmons was detained in the jail from
April 1, 2013 until September 27, 2013, and again from April 27, 2015 until July 9, 2015.
The facts are from the Complaint. [Doc. 1.] For purposes of deciding the
Defendants’ motion to dismiss, the Court accepts the Plaintiffs’ factual allegations as true and
construes them in the light most favorable to the Plaintiffs. See Stodghill v. Wellston Sch. Dist.,
512F.3d 472, 476 (8th Cir. 2008).
The Plaintiffs allege:
Each male detainee is given and limited to one pair of
socks, underwear, undershirt, outer shirt, pants, and shoes. Female
detainees are given a bra as well. Each detainee must surrender
these items if they want them to be laundered and must then
remain naked in their jail cell while the clothing is being
The Jail requires that in order to receive a laundered set of
clothes and underwear, the Plaintiffs and other detainees have to
surrender their clothes and then remain naked in their cell while
the clothing and underwear is being laundered.
The clothes of females in the Jail are laundered every four
days. At one time since the Jail opened its new location, the clothes
of males were laundered once a week. Currently, the clothes of
males are laundered every 2-3 days.
Detainees at the jail, including Plaintiffs, were provided
only one bed sheet and one blanket.
The bed-sheets and blankets given inmates are not
laundered and replaced at reasonable nor regular intervals. For
example, from April 27, 2015 until his pretrial release on July 9,
2015, Plaintiff Simmons’ bed-sheet and blanket were only replaced
The cell in which detainees are placed has a window that
detainees are not allowed to cover when they are naked in their cell
during the laundering of their clothing or while they shower or use
the toilet in their cell.
Males and females are forced to go naked for at least 7
hours if they wish to have clean clothing.
During the laundering of the clothes, the Plaintiffs remain
in a cell that does not provide them privacy from Jail guards of the
same or opposite sex or from their cellmate.
After the clothes are laundered, Jail guards return the
clothes to Plaintiffs’ cells after entering in the early hours of the
morning and sometimes without giving the detainees notice. Male
guards return laundered clothing to female inmates and in doing so
must open and enter such naked female detainees’ cells, causing
these female detainees to be seen by members of the opposite sex
and certainly being seen in their condition without their
Upon information and belief, female guards on occasion
also deliver laundered clothing to male inmates causing these male
detainees to be seen by members of the opposite sex and certainly
being seen in their condition without their permission.
[Doc. 1, p. 5-6.] 2
The jail has a Jail Inmate Rule Book. The book includes rules relating to nudity, personal
hygiene, general cleanliness, and the content of jail cells:
You will keep your bunk and common area clean and
sanitary at all times.
No art work, documents, or other items will be attached or
hung from walls.
You will not cover or block any windows, vents, or drains.
You will not hang anything that would prevent full
visibility of the cell.
You will wear the issued undergarments as designed at all
times unless you are actively showering or using the toilet.
You will not expose breast, buttocks, or genitals except as
necessary to actively shower or use the toilet.
Inmates will be visible during counts.
You will maintain a clean body while housed in the Cole
County Jail. … Failure to maintain personal hygiene will
result in disciplinary action or the appropriate amount of
forced used to ensure inmates maintain their hygiene.
Inmates will be given one pair of socks, underwear,
undershirt, outer shirt, pants and shoes. … No personal
clothing will be authorized to be worn by inmates.
The Plaintiffs do not allege that they are viewed while naked by detainees of the
opposite sex, or members of the public.
Inmates who damage inmate clothing or linen will be
required to reimburse the Jail for the cost of the damaged
item and they may be charged with an additional crime of
Inmate clothing and linen will be exchanged for clean items
at pre-scheduled intervals. During clothing or linen
exchange, inmates will only be given an item to replace an
issued item handed to the officer. The items must be given
to the officer before the officer will hand a replacement
item. Clothing exchange is vital to the hygiene of inmates.
[Doc. 1, pp. 6-7, ¶ 35.]
The Plaintiffs further allege:
Detainees at the Jail, including but not limited to Plaintiffs,
are forced to violate Jail Rules due to the laundry policies.
Detainees may not engage in alternative means to clean
their undergarments and other clothing without violation of Jail
Rules and risking discipline.
[Id., p. 7.]
The Plaintiffs sue under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States
Constitution, and the similar sections of the Missouri Constitution.
The Defendants argue dismissal is appropriate under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) because the
Plaintiffs fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is
appropriate when a complaint fails to allege facts establishing each element of the claims.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-80 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 55556 (2007). Thus, while well-pleaded allegations of fact are accepted as true, legal conclusions
and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements,” are not. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The allegations must rise above the “speculative”
or “conceivable,” and must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 547, 555, 563, 570). See also Benton v. Merrill Lynch & Co., 524 F.3d 866, 870 (8th Cir.
2008) (“Where the allegations show on the face of the complaint there is some insuperable bar to
relief, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate.”).
As detainees at the time of the alleged constitutional violation, the Plaintiffs’ claims are
analyzed under the Fourteenth Amendment rather than the Eighth Amendment. Stickley v. Byrd,
703 F.3d 421, 423 (8th Cir. 2013). The standards for analysis of the Plaintiffs’ claims under the
Missouri Constitution are the same as the federal ones. See Burnett v. State, 311 S.W.3d 810,
814 n.3 (Mo. Ct. App. 2009).
Pretrial detainees are entitled to “‘at least as great’ protection as that afforded convicted
prisoners under the Eighth Amendment.” Id. (internal quotation and citations omitted). “Under
the Fourteenth Amendment, a pretrial detainee's constitutional rights are violated if the detainee's
conditions of confinement amount to punishment.” Id. (quoting Morris v. Zefferi, 601 F.3d 805,
809 (8th Cir. 2010)). Therefore, pretrial detainees “’are entitled to reasonably adequate sanitation,
personal hygiene, and laundry privileges, particularly over a lengthy course of time.’” Id.
(quoting Beaulieu v. Ludeman, 690 F.3d 1017, 1045 (8th Cir. 2012)).
The Plaintiffs assert that having to remain without clothing in their cells for a period of
seven hours every few days if they wish to have their one set of jail-issued clothing laundered
violates their constitutional rights.
The Eighth Circuit “has not adopted an unconditional prohibition against deprivations of
necessities. Rather, [it] considers several factors in determining the constitutionality of
deprivations, including the degree and duration of the deprivations, the reason for the
deprivations, and the other surrounding circumstances.” Green v. Baron, 879 F.2d 305, 310 (8th
Cir. 1989) (citing Johnson v. Williams, 788 F.2d 1319, 1323 (8th Cir. 1986), and Rust v.
Grammer, 858 F.2d 411, 414 (8th Cir. 1988)). “A minimal deprivation does not violate the
Constitution.” Id. (citing Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 539 n. 21 (1979)). In other words, “[n]ot
every deprivation ... rises to the level of punishment under the due process clause.” Id.
Courts routinely reject Eighth Amendment claims concerning lack of clothing, and
analogous claims, on the basis that the alleged deprivation is not sufficiently serious. For
example, in Rodgers v. Thomas, 879 F.2d 380, 382 (8th Cir. 1989), a prisoner in a work-release
center who violated his furlough was stripped to his underwear and socks, and placed in an
isolation cell where he was kept for five days. The Eighth Circuit concluded that the removal of
his clothing “served no justifiable penological objective and was a punitive measure,” but that he
was given sheets and a blanket with which he could cover himself. Id. at 384. As for extent of
injury, the prisoner “alleged only that he suffered from flu symptoms after being placed in the
isolation cell, and he presented no evidence of physical or emotional pain or injury.” Id.
Summarizing its rejection of the prisoner’s Eighth Amendment claim, the Eighth Circuit held,
[A]lthough the deprivation of Rodgers' clothing was totally
unjustified, the other conditions of his confinement were humane
and sanitary, and the extent of the pain and injury which he
suffered, if any, was minimal. Consequently, we agree with the
district court that, based on the totality of the circumstances
surrounding his confinement, Rodgers did not suffer “unnecessary
and wanton infliction of pain” and thus was not subjected to cruel
and unusual punishment. Furthermore, Rodgers failed to … present
evidence of pain.
Id. at 385.
In Smith v. Copeland, 87 F.3d 265, 267 (8th Cir. 1996), a jail detainee claimed his civil
rights were violated when he was placed in solitary confinement without clothing, bedding, or
blankets. He also claimed he was exposed to raw sewage in his cell because of the condition of
the toilet. The jail officials put on evidence, which the detainee did not dispute, that the detainee
was offered the opportunity to flush the toilet and a means of cleaning up the mess, but that the
detainee refused. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to
the jail officials, because the prisoner was only exposed to these conditions for four days, and the
raw sewage allegation amounted to no more than a de minimis imposition that did not implicate
In Dundee v. Rambo, 2011 WL 776161, at *2 (W.D. Ark. Feb. 3, 2011), report and
recommendation adopted, 2011 WL 1086504 (W.D. Ark. Feb. 28, 2011), a jail detainee alleged
there was no regular laundry schedule and he was forced to wear the same clothing for weeks,
which caused rashes. He alleged he was issued a shirt and pants, but no towel, underwear, or
socks. When the jail did the laundry, detainees would place their clothes in a bag and wait until
the laundry was returned. The plaintiff was not initially issued a towel, and had to use his shirt
to dry himself after showers, until another detainee left and he then received a towel. The district
court dismissed his Eighth Amendment claim, holding he had not alleged more than de minimis
injury. “[D]iscomfort compelled by conditions of confinement, without more, does not violate”
the Eighth Amendment. Id. at *8. See also Williams v. Delo, 49 F.3d 442, 444–47 (8th Cir.
1995) (inmate's deprivation of clothes, running water, hygiene supplies, blanket, and mattress for
four days did not violate inmate's Eighth Amendment rights); and Gutridge v. Chesney, 1998
WL 248913, at *1 (E.D. Pa. May 8, 1998) (allegation that inmate's blanket was removed for
approximately a month and a half failed to state Eighth Amendment claim).
Examining the totality of the circumstances here, the Court concludes the Plaintiffs have
alleged no more than minimal deprivation. While detainees must send their entire set of clothing
to be laundered, and must remain naked for seven hours, the laundry is being done overnight.
Detainees are sleeping in the nude, not going about their activities during the waking part of the
day in the nude. Furthermore, detainees are issued a sheet and a blanket, as the Plaintiffs allege,
and may cover themselves with sheet and blanket if they wish. The Plaintiffs allege that their
sheets and blankets are infrequently washed, but they do not claim that having to use such
bedding when sleeping naked caused any pain or injury, nor do they allege any other pain or
injury that rises to the level of a constitutional vioaltion. The Plaintiffs’ claims are similar to
those rejected in the cases discussed above.
The Plaintiffs do complain that the laundry policy can cause them to be seen naked by
opposite-sex guards without the Plaintiffs’ consent, and by their cellmates. But the Plaintiffs
“have no general right [not to be] seen naked by guards of the opposite sex,” Hill v. McKinley,
311 F.3d 899, 904-05 (8th Cir. 2002), nor any “reasonable expectation of privacy in their jail
cells,” Arnzen v. Palmer, 713 F.3d 369, 372 (8th Cir. 2011). See also Story v. Foote, 782 F.3d
968, 973 (8th Cir. 2015) (detainee’s right not to be viewed naked by opposite sex jailers and by
other inmates is extremely limited, even in the context of highly invasive body cavity searches;
officers granted qualified immunity because they were “not on clear notice that the aspects of the
search…contravened the Fourth Amendment.”). Furthermore, regardless of whether a different
policy could result in less observation while naked, a court’s “inquiry is limited to the question
of whether constitutional violations have occurred and may not reflect [the court’s] idea of how
best to run [a] prison.” Johnson v. Williams, 788 F.2d 1319, 1325 (8th Cir. 1986).
Of course, “[s]ome conditions of confinement may establish an Eighth Amendment
violation in combination when each alone would not do so. This is true when the deprivations
have a mutually enforcing effect which produces the deprivation of a single, identifiable human
need, such as food or warmth, for example ‘a low cell temperature at night combined with a
failure to issue blankets.’” Gillis v. Litscher, 468 F.3d 488, 493 (7th Cir. 2006) (quoting Wilson,
501 U.S. at 304). See also Gordon v. Faber, 800 F. Supp. 797, 798-99 (N.D. Iowa 1992)
(prisoners were forced to go to outside exercise yard in sub-freezing weather without hats or
gloves, and suffered pain). The laundry policy at issue here creates no combination of factors
that establish a constitutional violation.
The Plaintiffs also seem to suggest that the jail rules, which require inmates to remain
clothed except to shower or use the toilet, and to maintain good hygiene, establish or
demonstrate constitutional requirements. But “[t]here is no federal liberty interest in having state
officers follow state law or prison officials follow prison regulations.” Phillips v. Norris, 320
F.3d 844, 847 (8th Cir. 2003). 3
Finally, the Plaintiffs argue that the laundry policy has no purpose beyond demonstrating
officials’ ability to impose such policy “ʻbecause they can,’ or at least think they can.” [Doc. 27,
p. 9.] The jail rules to which the Plaintiffs point expressly mention cleanliness and hygiene, in
the context of clothing and linen exchange. [See Doc. 1, p. 7, ¶ 35.] That the alleged laundry
practice promotes cleanliness and hygiene in an insensitive manner does not alone make it
unconstitutional. Even if the Court were to conclude that the policy could serve no valid
penological purpose, such conclusion alone would not make it unconstitutional. See Rodgers v.
Thomas, 879 F.2d 380, 384 (8th Cir. 1989) (“While it is material that a condition of confinement
is imposed for punitive, rather than administrative or protective reasons, “a punishment or
condition of confinement is not rendered unconstitutional simply because it serves no valid
penological purpose.”) (citing Maxwell v. Mason, 668 F2d 361, 364 n. 9 (8th Cir. 1981) and
Similar to the way in which jail rules cannot establish constitutional standards,
neither can the provisions of the Geneva Convention which the Plaintiffs set out in their
Complaint. The Plaintiffs concede in their suggestions in opposition that they did not intend to
allege that the Geneva Convention establishes constitutional standards. [Doc. 27, p. 7 n.4.]
Hutto v. Finney, 437 U.S. 678, 686 n. 8 (1978)). Rather, the totality of the factors is considered.
The Plaintiffs fail to state a claim under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, or
corresponding provisions of the Missouri Constitution.
B. Qualified immunity
Defendants White and Wheeler argue that as jail officials, they are entitled to qualified
immunity with respect to the federal claims brought against them in their individual capacities.
An official is entitled to qualified immunity unless his conduct violates “clearly established
statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). Deciding qualified immunity is a two-step process.
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009). The first step is to determine whether a
constitutional violation is adequately alleged. The second step is to decide whether “the right
asserted was clearly established at the time of the defendant's alleged misconduct.” Mitchell v.
Shearer, 729 F.3d 1070, 1074 (8th Cir. 2013).
As explained above, the Plaintiffs allege no viable constitutional violation. Therefore,
Defendants White and Wheeler have qualified immunity with respect to the federal constitutional
claims against them in their individual capacities.
The Defendants’ motion to dismiss is granted and the alternative request to strike certain
allegations is denied as moot. [Doc. 16.]
s/ Nanette K. Laughrey
NANETTE K. LAUGHREY
United States District Judge
Dated: September 24, 2015
Jefferson City, Missouri
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?