AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Civil Liability of Law Enforcement Agencies & Personnel
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Landlord-Tenant Conflicts & Issues
Monthly Law Journal Article: Landlords,
Tenants, and Civil Liability, 2009 (6) AELE Mo. L. J. 101
A residential real estate owner sued a county sheriff and a state court judge, claiming that the judge's general order directing the sheriff not to perform any residential tenant evictions during specified winter weeks violated its constitutional rights. A federal appeals court held that federal courts should abstain from interfering with such state court proceedings and that the plaintiff should seek to assert its constitutional claims and a remedy, in appropriate state court proceedings. SKS & Assoc., Inc. v. Dart. #09-3461, 619 F.3d 674 (7th Cir. 2010).
A tenant was found on the premises of an apartment she had been evicted from and was arrested for criminal trespass. The tenant, being legally blind, stated that she needed to go down the steps slowly, but one of the officers allegedly repeatedly told her to hurry, and she felt a shove or push from him, falling to the bottom of the landing, after which she fell twice more and the officer angrily tried to raise her by pulling on her handcuffs. The officer subsequently allegedly made a statement to her, "no rallies for you today," purportedly referring to her involvement in rallies against alleged police brutality. She sued the city for false arrest, false imprisonment, negligence, and violation of federal civil rights. The state trial court dismissed false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution claims, which were upheld on appeal, as the police had probable cause, which was a complete defense to these claims. A jury awarded the tenant $250,000 for violation of civil rights, $600,000 for past pain and suffering, and $500,000 for future pain and suffering. The plaintiff claimed that an officer violated her civil rights by deciding not to issue her a desk appearance ticket, but the court noted that she herself declined the officer's subsequent offer to give her a desk appearance ticket since she though that the officers should transport her to a hospital instead of releasing her to go there herself. The appeals court, therefore, overturned the civil rights award, and ordered a new trial on the pain and suffering awards, unless the plaintiff agreed to their reduction to $300,000 for past pain and suffering and $150,000 for future pain and suffering, as the amounts awarded by the jury were excessive. Young v. City of New York, #2248, 25645/03, 2010 N.Y. App. Div. Lexis 2647 (1st Dept.).
Police officers who arrested tenant on the basis of signed complaints from landlords had probable cause for the arrest, and were properly granted qualified immunity. Prosecutors in the case were entitled to absolute prosecutorial immunity, and landlords, who were private persons, did not act under color of state law, so they could not be defendants in a federal civil rights lawsuit. Fielding v. Tollaksen, No. 06-5393, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 28939 (2nd Cir.).
Landlord's rights were not violated by the alleged refusal of police officers to enforce a court order she obtained to oust a squatter from her property. The landlord did not show that she was legally entitled to police assistance in enforcing an eviction order issued by the courts, and she could not show a violation of equal protection, as there was no claim that the officers refused to carry out the eviction on the basis of her race or gender. Trask v. City of Chicago, No. 06-4237, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 21051 (7th Cir.).
Three homeless women, evicted from homeless shelter by police without legal process at the request of the shelter's director were not "tenants" under Kentucky law, had no property interest in the premises, and, therefore, the officers' actions did not violate their due process rights. Thomas v. Cohen, No. 05-5072, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 7938 (6th Cir.). [2006 LR Aug]
City's ordinance authorizing warrantless inspections of rental units unless tenants object did not violate the constitutional rights of landlords, as landlords had no reasonable expectation of privacy in units rented to either residential or commercial tenants. In instances where the landlords are themselves the tenants, the ordinance would be interpreted as also requiring their consent or a warrant. City of Vincennes v. Emmons, No. 42S02-0504-CV-131, 2006 Ind. Lexis 54 (2006). [2006 LR Mar]
City code enforcement officers were not liable for federal civil rights violations for evicting two elderly residents from their home without a pre-eviction hearing. The officers had the legal authority to issue emergency vacate orders, and had grounds to do so in light of the residents keeping 33 dogs and four birds in the two bedroom house, which was allegedly in an unsanitary condition. Sell v. City of Columbus, No. 03-4654, 127 Fed. Appx. 754 (6th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
Police officer who ordered a landlord to open a door to an apartment so that a woman's ex-boyfriend could retrieve his possessions was not entitled to qualified immunity on woman's claim that he violated her Fourth Amendment rights by becoming actively involved in an ex parte private repossession. Harvey v. Plains Township, No. 04-1148, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 18756 (3d Cir.). [2005 LR Oct]
City's ordinance requiring a landlord to institute eviction proceedings against a tenant when the chief of police has a suspicion that the tenant engaged in or permitted illegal drug or gang activity ruled to be an unconstitutional violation of procedural due process rights. Cook v. City of Buena Park, No. G031326, 2005 Cal. App. Lexis 105 (Cal. 4th App. Dist. January 28, 2005). [2005 LR Mar]
Officers who arrested a tenant for burglary when he broke in a home in which the locks had been changed following a rent dispute with his landlord were not entitled to qualified immunity in lawsuit for false arrest. Radvansky v. Olmsted Falls, No. 03-3798, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 739 (6th Cir. 2005). [2005 LR Feb]
Fire chief was entitled to qualified immunity that he issued a citation against the owner of rental properties for refusal to consent to a warrantless inspection of tenants' apartments. The alleged right of the owner, under the Fourth Amendment, to refuse to consent to the warrantless inspection intended to protect the tenants' safety, was not clearly established, so that a reasonable building or fire code enforcement official could have believed that the landlord had no right to refuse entry, so that he could be cited for obstructing access. Grimm v. Sweeney, #01-431, 249 F. Supp. 2d 571 (E.D. Pa. 2003). [N/R]
Even if an officer "seized" a tenant in ordering him to vacate his home upon threat of arrest after a landlord told the officer that he wanted the individual removed, the seizure was reasonable under circumstances where the tenant had no written lease and did not pay rent, the house was under construction at the time, and the level of the dispute between the landlord and tenant was serious enough that the tenant had called the police. Even if the officer acted unreasonably, however, he was entitled to qualified immunity. White v. City of Markham, #01-2034, 310 F.3d 989 (7th Cir. 2002). [2003 LR Mar]
Building owner was not liable to deputy sheriff for dog bite suffered while attempting to serve process on a tenant in an eviction case. Landlord was not reasonably on notice of the presence of the dog on the building premises simply because of dog droppings in the yard. Landlord was also entitled to protection under the one-bite rule even if they knew of the dog's presence, when they had no knowledge of this dog's dangerous propensities. Montier v. Silver Lake I, L.P., #2001-514, 813 A.2d 978 (RI 2003). [N/R]
339:42 Officer was not liable for detention of landlord, which allegedly caused his collapse because he needed access to his oxygen and medical equipment to prevent reoccurrence of recent stroke, when officer had no information concerning landlord's medical condition when she detained him while attempting to resolve landlord-tenant dispute over tenant property. Loudes v. City of Minneapolis, Minn., 233 F.3d 1109 (8th Cir. 2000).
Apartment tenants had standing to challenge allegedly unconstitutional search of rented premises when landlord, who wanted to evict tenants, did not have a valid order granting him exclusive possession at the time deputy sheriffs allegedly engaged in search. Ryan v. Mary Immaculate Queen Center, No. 98-3849, 188 F.3d 857 (7th Cir. 1999).
Deputy sheriff's brief, invited entry into tenants' residence to assist landlord's agent in showing premises to potential new tenant, even if it constituted a search, was reasonable, based on deputy's "community caretaking" function; deputy acted with motive to keep the peace in dispute between tenant and landlord. Kalmas v. Wagner, 943 P.2d 1369 (Wash. 1997).
283:99 Police officer was entitled to qualified immunity for warrantless entry into apartment when landlord told him that water was leaking into premises below, interfering with provision of heat and hot water for whole building Osipova v. Dinkins, 907 F.Supp. 94 (S.D.N.Y. 1995).
Landlord whose property was damaged when police lawfully executed a no-knock search warrant on a tenant was entitled to compensation for a "physical taking" of his property Wallace v. Atlantic City, 257 NJ Super 404, 608 A.2d 480 (NJ Super L 1992).
Mere denial by landlord that he had harassed tenant did not eliminate officer's probable cause to arrest him based on tenant's complaint. Craig v. Krzeminski, 764 F.Supp. 248 (D. Conn. 1991).
Actions of police in evicting woman from him without physical force was not "shocking" to conscience Reese v. Kennedy, 865 F.2d 186 (8th Cir. 1989).
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