AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Civil Liability of Law Enforcement Agencies & Personnel
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Police Plaintiff: Assault and Battery
A courtroom marshal
was not entitled to absolute immunity on excessive force claims by two
bail enforcement agents removed from a court room at a judge's request.
He was not performing a judicial function, and allegedly used force in
excess of what the judge commanded and the Constitution allows. He was,
however, entitled to qualified immunity from liability, since there was
then "chaos" in the court room and undisputed evidence that at
least one of the two plaintiffs was intent on disobeying the court's instructions.
It was not "beyond debate" that the marshal used an unreasonable
level of force. Brooks v. Clark County, #14-16424, 2016 U.S. App. Lexis
12510 (9th Cir.).
A sheriff, captain, sergeant, and watch commander were not liable for a detainee's brutal attack on a female courtroom deputy, inflicting severe brain damage, when he was brought to the courtroom from a holding cell and disarmed her. The courtroom deputy, the appeals court noted, was not in custody, so that the failure to provide adequate security to prevent the attack violated her due process rights only if the defendants acted with deliberate indifference or engaged in conduct that was conscience shocking, which was not the case here. Further, the courtroom deputy was exposed to the danger of such an assault by the nature of her employment, and the claims against the defendants amounted to those similar to negligence, not deliberate indifference or conscience shocking behavior. Hall v. Freeman, No. 08-11238, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 18421 (Unpub. 11th Cir.).
An off-duty officer tried to help a stranger who claimed he was being robbed, who turned out to be a drug dealer being chased by an on-duty police officer. The off-duty officer, when he realized what the situation was, placed himself in a prone position on the floor in an indication of surrender. The on-duty officer allegedly kicked the off-duty officer repeatedly and stomped on his buttocks and groin until he saw a police badge on the off-duty officer's neck. The injured off-duty officer sued the on-duty officer and the District of Columbia, asserting claims for excessive use of force. A federal appeals court ruled that the trial court acted erroneously in granting qualified immunity to the defendant on-duty officer. The facts, as presented by the plaintiff off-duty officer, showed that the on-duty officer violated his Fourth Amendment rights, and a reasonable officer would have known that the actions allegedly taken, under the circumstances, were not lawful. The common law negligence claims against the District were properly dismissed, however. The off-duty officer's exclusive remedy on those claims was to seek benefits under the Police and Firefighters Retirement and Disability Act. A trial was ordered on the off-duty officer's civil rights claims. Johnson v. D.C., No. 06-7136, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 13289 (D.C. Cir.).
County could not be held liable for injuries policeman suffered when he was assaulted while buying narcotics as part of a joint task force. The alleged failure of the defendants to warn him that a suspect had been released from jail, who then recognized him when he tried to buy drugs and assaulted him was not actionable in the absence of a special relationship with the officer sufficient to overcome the governmental immunity that otherwise barred the lawsuit. The relationship between the officer, the village and the county while participating in the task force was also similar to that of an employee to his employer. Rodriguez v. County of Rockland, No. 2006-00834, 2007 N.Y. App. Div. Lexis 9830 (A.D. 2nd Dept.).
In a police officer's lawsuit for assault and battery against the sister of an arrestee, the sister was not barred from claiming that her actions did not constitute civil assault by her prior guilty plea to a misdemeanor crime of resisting arrest. Her "ambiguous" plea admitting to a "struggle" with the officer did not necessarily admit that she had attacked him, as the criminal charge was not criminal assault, so collateral estoppel did not apply. Dougherty v. Weinert, 809 N.Y.S.2d 758 (Sup. App. Term, 1st Dept. 2005). [N/R]
City of New York was not liable for police officers injuries when he was struck in the head with a flashlight by another officer while assisting in making an arrest. There was no evidence that the other officer acted with any intent to violate state criminal law, so there was no liability under McKinney's General Municipal Law Sec. 205-e imposing liability for police injuries caused by statutory violations. Warren v. City of New York, 791 N.Y.S.2d 650 (A.D. 2nd Dept. 2005). [N/R]
Police officer was not acting within the scope of his employment when he allegedly injured a deputy sheriff at a defensive tactics training program by placing him in a neck restraint, causing him to fall. He was therefore not entitled to defense and indemnification by the county which employed him in a personal injury lawsuit filed against him by the deputy. Riehle v. County of Cattaraugus, 794 N.Y.S.2d 186 (A.D. 4th Dept. 2005). [N/R]
Restaurant owners and corporation might be liable for employee's act of spitting on the food to be served to a state trooper, since food preparation was within the scope of his employment, but there was no showing that the restaurant or its owners ratified the employee's act. Phillips v. Restaurant Management of Carolina, L.P., #COA00-411, 552 S.E.2d 686 (N.C. App. 2001). [N/R]
305:67 Police department employee, allegedly assaulted by two officers as she reported to work at jail in civilian clothes, awarded $1,957,120 for negligence and excessive force. Jones v. City of Los Angeles, BC053303, L.A. Superior Central Ct., L.A., Calif., Jan. 15, 1998, reported in Los Ang. Daily Jour. (Verd. & Stl.) Vol. 111, No. 30, p. 5 (Feb. 13, 1998).
306:90 City and officer who allegedly hit another officer during baton training exercise, resulting in disabling injury, liable for $2.35 million in damages; suit claimed negligent supervision by city. Hamilton v. City of Brawley, Cal. Imperial County Super. Ct., No. 84701, Nov. 24, 1997, 41 ATLA L. Rptr. 94 (April 1998).
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