CLARK et al v. CAMDEN COUNTY DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Robert B. Kugler on 9/21/2017. (dmr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
SALAHUDDIN F. SMART
CAMDEN COUNTY DEPT. OF
CORRECTIONS, et al.
KUGLER, United States District Judge:
This matter arises upon Defendants Camden County Department of Corrections, Warden
David S. Owens, Lt. Reimer, Lt. Adkins, Sgt. McCarthy, Camden County Board of Chosen
Freeholders, Sgt. Schutts, Sgt. Grunlock, Corrections Officer Sharper, Corrections Officer
Iembsea, and Scot McCray’s (“Defendants”) motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set
forth in the opinion below, this motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiff Salahuddin F. Smart (“Plaintiff”) and co-plaintiff, Carlo S. Clark,1 filed suit pro
se on April 11, 2014.2 They alleged Fourth Amendment violations stemming from a strip-search
that occurred on March 18, 2014, while both were inmates at Camden County Correctional
Mr. Clark was administratively terminated from this case on April 10, 2015. See Doc. No. 9.
Plaintiff did not oppose Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. As such, the Court takes
his version of the facts from the complaint, supplemented by his deposition testimony. See
Compl.; Def. Br. Ex. C.
Facility. See Def. Br. at 1; Compl. Ex. A. Plaintiff and Mr. Clark sought money damages,
injunctive relief, and class status. Id.
On March 18, 2014, Corrections Officer Sharper told Sgt. McCarthy that an inmate had
passed a note stating “Carlitto” was in possession of razor blades. See Def. Br. at 2; Def. SUMF
at 1; Def. SUMF Ex. C. Sgt. McCarthy informed his supervisor, Lt. Adkins, of the situation;
Lt. Atkins instructed Sgt. McCarthy to “shakedown” the entire housing block and look for the
weapons described. See Def. SUMF at 1-2. Inmates housed in 3 South B block and 4 South B
block, including Plaintiff, were individually strip-searched. 3 Id. During the shakedown,
Corrections Officer Sharper found a razor blade in a different inmate’s cell. Id.
The court should grant a motion for summary judgment when the moving party “shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). An issue is “material” to the dispute if it could alter
the outcome, and a dispute of a material fact is “genuine” if “a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the non-moving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986);
Matsushida Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (“Where the
record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party,
there is no ‘genuine issue for trial.’”) (quoting First National Bank of Arizona v. Cities Service
Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)). In deciding whether there is any genuine issue for trial, the
court is not to weigh evidence or decide issues of fact. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. Because fact
County Department of Corrections General Order 033 sets forth the policy for strip-searches,
and requires them when there is a “reasonable suspicion” that an inmate may be concealing a
weapon. See Def. SUMF at 2.
and credibility determinations are for the jury, the non-moving party’s evidence is to be believed
and ambiguities construed in her favor. Id. at 255; Matsushida, 475 U.S. at 587.
Although the movant bears the burden of demonstrating that there is no genuine issue of
material fact, the non-movant likewise must present more than mere allegations or denials to
successfully oppose summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256. The nonmoving party must
at least present probative evidence from which jury might return a verdict in his favor. Id. at 257.
The movant is entitled to summary judgment where the non-moving party fails to “make a
showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party’s case, and on
which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
There is no Fourth Amendment right to be free from strip-searches in prison, as long as
the search is conducted reasonably. See, e.g., Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 539 (1979). The
question of reasonableness depends upon a balancing of the requisite personal invasion versus
the need for the strip search. Parkell v. Danberg, et al, 833 F.3d 313, 326 (3d Cir. 2016) (citing
Bell, 441 U.S. at 559); see also Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders of Cty. of Burlington,
566 U.S. 318, 326 (2012). Procedures that are, for example, vindictive or excessive could
potentially constitute Fourth Amendment violations, but “the contours of prisoners’ Fourth
Amendment rights” are “very narrow.” Parkell, 833 F.3d at 326.
There is no factual dispute that a strip-search took place here. See Compl.; Def. SUMF
at 1. Instead, the question is whether Plaintiff has offered any evidence that creates a genuine
issue for trial. He has not—the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to
find for Plaintiff. Zenith Radio Corp. 475 U.S. at 587. Plaintiff has offered no evidence of an
unreasonable search. Instead, Plaintiff alleges that the strip-search was unreasonable because
Defendants did not have a reasonable belief that Plaintiff—specifically—was hiding any
contraband. See Compl.; Def. SUMF Ex. B at 2. This argument fails. Defendants had a
reasonable belief that weapons were present in the relevant housing blocks because of
information that they received. Def. SUMF at 1-2. Defendants acted on that reasonable suspicion
and found a weapon. Id. Defendants’ decision to search was reasonable, the searches were
conducted in a reasonable manner, and the need for the search vastly outweighed the search’s
invasion on Plaintiff’s privacy. Plaintiff has offered no evidence suggesting otherwise, and thus
has failed to demonstrate that there is any genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256.
For the reasons set forth above, Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is
s/Robert B. Kugler__
ROBERT B. KUGLER
United States District Judge
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