Contract Workers’ Challenge to Jail Strip Search, Vollette v. Watson

Six nurses and three other workers are employed by private contractors to provide health care and other services to Portsmouth City Jail.  One day in 2011, the nine workers were subjected to an invasive body cavity search when they came to work, even though there was no reason to believe that any of them was carrying drugs or other contraband.  We filed suit on April 27, 2012, claiming that the search violated the workers’ Fourth Amendment rights.  On April 30, 2012, the Sheriff revoked all of the workers’ security clearances and made them leave the facility.  We filed a motion for a temporary restraining order arguing that the termination violated the First Amendment, which was denied on August 14, 2012.  Meanwhile, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, to which we responded on July 13, 2012.

After a trial, on April 23, 2013, a jury found in favor of the defendants. On April 24, 2013, the judge held that the sheriff had violated the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights by revoking their security clearances in retaliation for filing the suit, and ordered the security clearances to be restored.  On July 24, 2013, the court awarded $23,743 in attorney’s fees to the plaintiff.

Court Documents (click link to view .pdf)
Complaint - U.S. District Court, Norfolk


Rebecca Glenberg, Tom Fitzpatrick, ACLU of Virginia

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

David Morgan, Daniel Trimmer, Cravens Noll, Richmond

Date filed

April 27, 2012


U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division.