AELE Seminars

Lethal and Less Lethal Force
Oct. 13-15, 2014 Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas

Public Safety Discipline and Internal Investigations
Dec. 15-17, 2014 Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas

Jail and Prisoner Legal Issues
Jan. 12-15, 2015 -- Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas

Click here for more information about all AELE Seminars



 Search the Case Law Digest


A civil liability law publication for Law Enforcement
ISSN 0271-5481 Cite this issue as: 2014 LR August
Click here to view information on the editor of this publication.

Access the multi-year Civil Liability Case Digest

Return to the monthly publications menu
Report non-working links here
Some links are to PDF files - Adobe Reader must be used to view content

CONTENTS

Digest Topics
Firearms Related: Intentional Use (2 cases)
First Amendment
Insurance
Homeless Persons
Malicious Prosecution
Negligence: Vehicle Related
Search and Seizure: Home/Business
Terrorism (2 cases)

Resources

Cross References


AELE Seminars

Lethal and Less Lethal Force
Oct. 13-15, 2014 Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas

Public Safety Discipline and Internal Investigations
Dec. 15-17, 2014 Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas

Jail and Prisoner Legal Issues
Jan. 12-15, 2015 -- Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas

Click here for more information about all AELE Seminars


MONTHLY CASE DIGEST

Firearms Related: Intentional Use

     Officers who used deadly force to kill a man while responding to a domestic violence call were entitled to qualified immunity when the decedent made threats and possessed a firearm at the time of the shooting. The officers were also entitled to official immunity on state law claims since the evidence showed that they acted reasonably to a significant threat of death or physical harm. Smith v. City of Brooklyn Park, #13-1640, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 12594 (8th Cir.).

****Editor's Case Alert****

     A Border Patrol agent shot and killed a 15-year-old Mexican boy who was standing in Mexico across the border from the U.S. Claims against the U.S. government were properly rejected as the federal government had not waived sovereign immunity on claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act and the Alien Tort Statute did not waive sovereign immunity. The plaintiff failed to show that any of the supervisory personnel sued were personally responsible for the agent's actions. A Fifth Amendment due process claim, however, could continue against the agent, and the plaintiffs had alleged sufficient facts to overcome qualified immunity. The boy and his friends, at the time of the shooting, were playing a game in which they ran up the incline of the culvert on their side of the border, touched the barbed-wire fence, and then ran back down the incline. Hernandez. v. United States, #12-50301, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 12307 (5th Cir.).

First Amendment

****Editor's Case Alert****

     A Massachusetts start statute making it illegal to knowingly stand on a public sidewalk or way within 35 feet of the entrance or driveway to any reproductive health care facility, including an abortion clinic, violated the First Amendment rights of anti-abortion protestors. The unanimous court decision found that the law was content neutral and that an exemption allowing those who worked in the facility to enter or remain within the buffer zone was reasonable. But the statute was not narrowly tailored to serve significant governmental interests and the buffer zone compromised the protestors' ability to engage in counseling of patients on the sidewalk or to distribute literature to arriving patients. This amounted to excluding abortion protestors from areas of the public way historically open to speech and debate. McCullen v. Coakley, #12-1168, 2014 U.S. Lexis 4499.

Insurance

     A man was charged with the murder and sexual assault of his three-year-old daughter. Charges were dropped after his defense attorney obtained DNA evidence and had it privately tested, but he was first imprisoned for eight months after detectives coerced a confession from him and delayed DNA testing, according to his lawsuit. A jury awarded him $15.5 million, including $6.2 million in punitive damages on malicious prosecution and other claims. Fox v. Hayes, #08-3736, 600 F.3d 819 (7th Cir. 2010). Offers to settle for less were rejected both before and after the verdict. A primary insurance policy required the insurer to defend the detectives up to a policy limit of $1 million. The county also had express insurance policies for $5 million from a second company, and further excess coverage from a third insurer. $8,166,000 of the damages awarded were upheld, including $3.4 million in punitive damages. The detectives assigned to the plaintiffs any claims against the insurers in exchange for an agreement not to seek punitive damages against the detectives' personal assets. A federal appeals court rejected the plaintiffs' claim against the secondary insurer that it breached a good faith duty to reasonably settle the claims and inform the detectives of their alleged conflicts of interest. The appeals court upheld the finding that the secondary insurer never had any control over the defense of the case before the jury verdict and accordingly had no duty either to settle the case or inform the detectives of a supposed conflict of interest. Fox v. Am. Alt. Ins. Corp., #13-1290, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 12799 (7th Cir.).

Homeless Persons

     A federal appeals court found that an ordinance prohibiting the use of a vehicle as living quarters was void for vagueness in violation of due process since it offered no guidance as to what conduct was prohibited and failed to clearly divide criminal and innocent conduct. As written, it could be broad enough to apply to any driver who transported personal belongings or ate in his vehicle, but it apparently was only applied to homeless persons, opening the door to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. Summary judgment for the defendants was reversed and further proceedings were ordered. Desertrain v. City of Los Angeles, #11-56957, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 11543 (9th Cir.).

Malicious Prosecution

     In a settlement, the Illinois State Police agreed to pay a total of $40 million to five men who were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in Dixmoor, Illinois in 1991. They spent a total of 70 years in prison between them before being cleared by DNA evidence. Their lawsuit accused officers of having coerced false confessions from them. Barr v. Kachiroubas, #12-cv-9327 (N.D. Illinois). Claims against the Village of Dixmoor remain pending.

Negligence: Vehicle Related

   A jury returned a $280,500 verdict for the daughter of a man struck and killed by a county sheriff's car driven by a deputy at a time when the decedent was standing near his own car following a highway accident. The judgment attributed 14 percent of the fault to the decedent, however, because of his marijuana use at the time, reducing the award accordingly. An intermediate California appeals court ruled that the evidence of marijuana use should not have been admitted as there was no showing that it in any way contributed to causing the accident, and its admission was prejudicial. A new trial was therefore ordered. Hernandez v. County of Los Angeles, #B243294, 2014 Cal. App. Lexis 525.

Search and Seizure: Home/Business

     Police mistook a Hispanic teenage boy and his friends, who were in his own home, for two white male intruders being sought. They pointed guns at them, entered the home without a warrant, and shot and killed the family's pet dog. An excessive force claim could go forward, as the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, indicated that they fully complied with the officers' orders at all times. An unlawful entry claim could also go forward as the officers did not have probable cause in the absence of any information to suggest that the boys were illegally on the premises, and the lack of an objective basis for applying an emergency aid exception, as well as disputed issues of fact as to whether any violence was imminent. The officers were not entitled to qualified immunity. The shooting of the dog did not amount to a deprivation of a familial relationship. Sandoval v. Las Vegas Metro Police Dep't., #12-15654, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 12395 (9th Cir.).

Terrorism

     A federal court ruled that the U.S. government's "no-fly" list, barring certain named people from flying as part of efforts to combat terrorism, violated the constitutional rights of a number of people on the list by depriving them of their constitutional right to travel while failing to provide them with an adequate means to challenge their inclusion on the list. There were 13 plaintiffs, including four military veterans. Latif v. Holder, #3:10-cv-00750, 2014 U.S. Dist. Lexis 85450 (D. Ore.).

     A federal appeals court has ordered the release of a redacted copy of a secret Justice Department memo providing a legal argument justifying a 2011 drone attack that killed a U.S. male citizen suspected of being an al Qaeda leader. The court found that there had been a waiver of secrecy and privilege under Exemption 5 of the Freedom of Information Act as to the content of the legal analysis by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)-DOD memorandum. This was the case because senior government officials assured the public that such targeted killings of U.S. citizens by drones abroad were lawful and that the OLC advice established the legal boundaries within which the government operated. The government had already made public a detailed analysis of nearly all the legal reasoning contained in the memo. There was no longer any logical or plausible way to argue that the disclosure of the redacted memo risked disclosing any military plans, intelligent activities, sources and methods, or foreign relations details. Some other documents were properly withheld because they were "pre-decisional" and informal, and some others were ordered to be submitted to the court for an in camera examination. New York Times Company v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, #13-422, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 11733 (2nd Cir.).

Return to the Contents menu.

Report non-working links here


AELE Seminars

Lethal and Less Lethal Force
Oct. 13-15, 2014 Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas

Public Safety Discipline and Internal Investigations
Dec. 15-17, 2014 Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas

Jail and Prisoner Legal Issues
Jan. 12-15, 2015 -- Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas

Click here for more information about all AELE Seminars


Resources

     Body Armor: Body Armor for Law Enforcement Officers, by Nathan James (Congressional Research Service, May 2014).

     Criminal Justice Information: War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Police - Report, by the ACLU (June 23, 2014).

     Criminal Justice Information: The Truth About Lying: What Investigators Need to Know, by Brian D. Fitch, FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin (June 2014).

     Statistics: Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2013, Bureau of Justice Statistics (June 10, 2014).

     Use of Force: A Rational Foundation for Use of Force Policy, Training and Assessment, by John Klein and Ken Wallentine (2014).

Reference

Cross References
Dogs -- See also, Search and Seizure: Home/Business
Domestic Violence -- See also, Firearms Related: Intentional Use (1st case)
Federal Tort Claims Act -- See also, Firearms Related: Intentional Use (2nd case)
Firearms Related -- See also, Search and Seizure: Home/Business
Freedom of Information -- See also, Terrorism
Interrogation -- See also, Insurance
Interrogation -- See also, Malicious Prosecution
Malicious Prosecution -- See also, Insurance
U.S. Supreme Court Cases -- See also, First Amendment

Report non-working links here

Return to the Contents  menu.

Return to the  monthly publications menu

Access the multiyear Civil Liability Law  Case Digest

List of  links to court websites

Report non-working links  here.

© Copyright 2014 by AELE, Inc.
Contents may be downloaded, stored, printed or copied,
but may not be republished for commercial purposes.

Library of Civil Liability Case Summaries

 Search the Case Law Digest