AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Civil Liability of Law Enforcement Agencies & Personnel
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Native American Police Officers and Agencies & Related Issues
vehicle passengers injured in an accident sought to hold a rural Alaskan
city vicariously liable for their injuries that were allegedly caused by
a native village tribal police officer who was certified as a federal employee
for purposes of the lawsuit. The officer ordered the two minors to ride
on the back of a for wheeler he was driving after he found them out in
violation of curfew. They were thrown off the vehicle when he lost control
of the vehicle. The vicarious liability claim was based on the theory that
the city had a non-delegable duty to provide law enforcement services to
the community. The officer, a federal appeals court found, was entitled
to immunity from liability under both his tribe's sovereign immunity and
under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The injured plaintiffs' sole remedy
was against the federal government and the immunities available to the
officer extended to the city. M.J. v. United States, #11-35625, 2013 U.S.
App. Lexis 13416 (9th Cir.).
Rhode Island's seizure, after entering an Indian tribe's land under a warrant, of unstamped, untaxed cigarettes, and the subsequent related arrest of tribal members was legal, because of a previously negotiated joint memorandum of understanding, which was codified in the Rhode Island Indian Claims Settlement Act, 25 U.S.C. Secs. 1701-1716, subjecting the tribe to the state's laws. Narragansett Indian Tribe v. State of Rhode Island, No. 04-1155, 449 F.3d 16 (1st Cir. 2006) [N/R]
Tribal police officer responding to a domestic dispute between two non-Indians at a casino on tribal land was not engaged in enforcing federal law, and therefore he and his police chief could not pursue their claim for indemnification for claims of assault and battery against them under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2680(h). The federal government has not waived its sovereign immunity against indemnification claims in such circumstances. Herbert v. U.S., No. 05-30223, 438 F.3d 483 (5th Cir. 2006). [N/R]
Tribal police officer engaged in an attempt to enforce tribal law was not a federal law enforcement officer within the meaning of the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2680, and the defendants were therefore entitled to summary judgment in a lawsuit brought under that statute for alleged excessive use of force. LaVallie v. United States, No. A1-04-075, 396 F. Supp. 2d 1082 (D. N.D. 2005). [N/R]
Motorist who was run over by Indian tribal police vehicle while hiding on the ground in alfalfa field after abandoning vehicle at the conclusion of high-speed chase could not recover damages under Federal Tort Claims Act. His own negligence in eluding officers and hiding in the field contributed to his injuries, barring recovery under applicable South Dakota law. Good Low v. US, No. 05-1114, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 24517 (8th Cir.). [2006 LR Jan]
Non-Indian domestic violence suspect could be detained by tribal police officers while he was on a reservation, and the officers also had the authority to search his vehicle. U.S. v. Terry, No. 04-2595, 400 F.3d 575 (8th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
The application of a California statute, prohibiting "unauthorized" emergency vehicles from using emergency light bars, to the law enforcement department of a recognized Indian tribe was discriminatory and preempted by federal law. There was no rational justification for treating tribal emergency vehicles differently than other authorized state, federal or private emergency vehicles. County sheriff's department therefore acted improperly in repeatedly stopping and citing the tribe's police officers for violating the statute whenever they traveled on non-reservation roads to respond to emergency calls from noncontiguous sections of the reservation. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians v. Smith, No. 02-56943, 388 F.3d 691 (9th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Federal appeals court orders further proceedings to determine whether Native American tribal police who had a commission from the county sheriff's office was entitled to indemnification from the county under the Oklahoma state Tort Claims Act, 51 Okl. Stat. Ann. Sec. 162, subd. B, pars. 1, 4c, after a jury returned a verdict against him in an arrestee's excessive force claim under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983. The fact that the jury concluded that he used excessive force and the trial court concluded that the officer was not entitled to qualified immunity were insufficient to preclude indemnification or to require a finding that the officer acted in bad faith. Lampkin v. Little, #01-7018, 01-7019, 286 F.3d 1206 (10th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
Indian tribe should be treated as a municipality for purposes of a federal civil rights lawsuit by a newspaper reporter claiming that his federal constitutional rights were violated by his arrest and removal from tribal land by tribal police officers. Tribe could not be held liable under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 in the absence of any claim that a tribal policy or custom caused the alleged injuries. Tribal police officer was entitled to qualified immunity for arresting reporter based on his refusal to leave meeting room after a request by the chairman of the tribal executive committee that he do so. Armstrong v. Mille Lacs County Sheriffs Department, 228 F. Supp. 2d 972 (D. Minn. 2002). [N/R]
Indian tribal court did not have jurisdiction over lawsuit brought against deputy, who was a nonmember of the tribe, for alleged misconduct on reservation property. County of Lewis v. Allen, #94-35979, 141 F.3d 1385 (9th Cir. 1998). [N/R]
Indian tribe was entitled to tribal immunity from suit under 42 USC Sec 1985(3), federal civil rights statute providing conspiracies to deprive persons of rights or privileges Mousseaux v. US, 28 F.3d 786 (8th Cir. 1994). [N/R]
Indian tribal police officer was entitled to sovereign immunity for giving intoxicated driver, who was not a tribal member, a ride to a phone to call for transportation home, and for later driving back and accidentally hitting and killing him with vehicle while transporting a tribal member/arrestee to jail Suarez v. Newquist, 855 P.2d 1200 (Wash App. 1993).
Officers were entitled to qualified immunity for arresting members of Indian tribe for illegally gathering shellfish; it was not clearly established law that tribal members had a right to take shellfish in non reservation areas Romero v. Kitsap County, 931 F.2d 624 (9th Cir. 1991).
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