The Sixth Circuit reverses an unrequested and unconstitutional injunction

Hearring ex rel. B.H. v. Sliwowski, Nos. 14-6039, 14-6315 (6th Cir. Nov. 20, 2015).

A first-grade student told the secretary at her school that her genitals were irritated and that it burned when she urinated. The school called the mother, who said the child often suffered from bladder infections. A couple days later, the child came back with the same complaint, and the school nurse and the secretary took her to a faculty restroom for an examination. The nurse asked the child to remove some of her clothes, and visually checked the genitals, and asked the child to open her labia to check for redness. The nurse didn’t touch the child. 

The child’s mother was irate that the nurse conducted this examination without her permission. On behalf of her daughter, she sued the nurse and school under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. The nurse was dismissed on qualified-immunity grounds, leaving the school as the sole defendant. After a trial, a jury found for the school. Even so, the district court, sua sponte, granted an injunction that required the school to train its employees “to ensure safeguards for school children’s privacy.” 

The school appealed the injunction, and—not surprisingly—the Sixth Circuit reverses, noting that the injunction wasn’t requested and lacked an evidentiary basis. Plus, the mother didn’t have standing to get an injunction in the first place, since there wasn’t any real risk of the genital examination happening again.