AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Civil Liability of Law Enforcement Agencies & Personnel
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Defenses: Collateral Estoppel & Judicial Estoppel
A man prosecuted
and convicted of charges of sexual misconduct appealed the dismissal of
his lawsuit asserting various claims arising out of his arrest, prosecution,
and conviction. Noting that he had pled guilty to the charges in his state
criminal case, a federal court ruled that his lawsuit was barred by the
defense of collateral estoppel since he neither appealed his conviction
nor sought to withdraw his guilty plea. The plaintiff's argument that he
was denied a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue of his guilt
because he had incompetent counsel was rejected, with the appeals court
noting that he himself had practiced law at a large firm prior to his disbarment,
and stated that his plea was being entered voluntarily and knowingly, and
that he had committed the offenses for which he was pleading guilty. Additionally,
some claims against the prosecutor were barred by absolute prosecutorial
immunity. Colliton v. Donnelly, #09-4186, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 22727 (Unpub.
The family of a suspect shot and killed following a police chase lost a lawsuit in federal court claiming excessive use of force. Because state law wrongful death claims had been dismissed in the case, they then sued in California state court. An intermediate California appeals court has held that the result in the federal lawsuit barred (collaterally estopped) the plaintiffs from recovering damages on their claim that officers were negligent in using deadly force in shooting and killing the suspect, who was unarmed, but who they thought had a gun and was firing. (The shots heard were actually one of the officers firing at the suspect). The appeals court found that the issue of whether the officers used reasonable care in using deadly force was submitted and actually decided in the federal case and could not be relitigated. Hernandez v. City of Pomona, #S149499, 2009 Cal. Lexis 4630.
Even though a request for an arrest warrant to charge the plaintiff with murder was based on a witness's second statement, which indicated that her initial statement was untruthful, the arrestee was barred from relitigating the question of whether there had been probable cause for his arrest by the fact that such probable cause had been found at a subsequent preliminary hearing which included evidence of the first statement made by the witness, as well as her drug use, and the fact that she had altered her account of events. Since all this was presented at the preliminary hearing, there was no argument that the defendant officers had deliberately provided the criminal court with inaccurate information. Flowers v. City of Detroit, No. 08-1035, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 1038 (Unpub. 6th Cir.).
When an arrestee had a "full and fair opportunity" to challenge the question of whether there was probable cause for his arrest at a preliminary hearing, he was barred from relitigating the issue in his federal civil rights lawsuit. McIntosh v. Prestwich, No. 06-56868, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 10148 (Unpub. 9th Cir.).
Prior rejection of federal civil rights claims alleging excessive use of force in the shooting and killing of a man by police while fleeing arrest did not bar a subsequent state law negligence lawsuit arising out of the same incident, under the doctrines of either collateral estoppel or res judicata, as the test for "reasonable use" of force for constitutional purposes is not the same as "reasonableness" for purposes of negligence. Hernandez v. City of Pomona, No. B182437, 41 Cal. Rptr. 3d 517 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 2006). [N/R]
In arrestee's civil rights and false arrest lawsuit, he was barred from arguing that he was not carrying drugs at the time of his arrest when he argued in his appeal of his criminal conviction that the drugs were inadmissible as the fruit of an illegal arrest, since that was inconsistent with the argument that there were no drugs. The case was decided on the basis of judicial estoppel. Griffin v. City of Chicago, No. 05C1571, 406 F. Supp. 2d 938 (N.D. Ill. 2005). [N/R]
Arrestee's excessive force claim against police officer was not barred by his conviction for resisting the officer, when he did not deny the resistance, but merely that the officer's response was excessive, including a beating to the face that caused broken bones and bruises. VanGilder v. Baker, No. 05-1119, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 810 (7th Cir.). [2006 LR Mar]
Arrestee's guilty plea to criminal charges of obstructing an officer did not bar him from pursuing his excessive force lawsuit against the officer who shot him while attempting to subdue him during his arrest. The court found that the arrestee "delayed or obstructed" officers several times in "many different ways" over a period of time, and the record of the plaintiff's criminal conviction did not indicate which of these acts was the basis for his guilty plea, and whether it was that action which the officer was responding to when he mistakenly shot the arrestee with his firearm, intending to draw and fire his Taser gun. Yount v. City of Sacramento, No. C046869, No. C046869, 35 Cal. Rptr. 3d 563 (Cal. App. 3rd Dist. 2005). [N/R]
Police officers who put a homeowner under arrest for violating a town's noise ordinance during a party at his residence had probable cause for the arrest, and the homeowner was subsequently convicted of violating the ordinance. His conviction barred him from relitigating the issue of whether he violated the ordinance. Raphael v. County of Nassau, No. CV03-1675, 387 F. Supp. 2d 127 (E.D.N.Y. 2005). [N/R]
The fact that a state judge denied an arrestee's pre-trial motion to quash certain evidence as illegally obtained in his criminal prosecution did not bar him, in a subsequent federal civil rights lawsuit, from claiming that the officers did not have probable cause to arrest him. The ruling on the pre-trial motion was not a final judgment on the merits, and the arrestee was later acquitted on the basis of testimony not presented at the pretrial hearing. Additionally, the arrestee's acquittal on the criminal charges prevented him, in state court, from appealing the judge's ruling on the pre-trial motion. Toro v. Gainer, No. 04C4484, 370 F. Supp. 2d 736 (N.D. Ill. 2005). [N/R]
Arrestee's excessive force claim arising out of his arrest was not barred by his plea of no contest to a charge of disorderly conduct, since probable cause for the arrest did not necessarily resolve the issue of whether the force used to make the arrest was proper. Defendants were, however, entitled to summary judgment, as the force used was found to be reasonable. Dye v. City of Warren, No. 4:03CV2593, 367 F. Supp. 2d 1175 (N.D. Ohio 2005). [N/R]
Arrestees who had entered a plea in state court admitting that they attempted to use unlawful force to inflict bodily injury on another person were barred from pursuing a federal civil rights claim based on the alleged invalidity of their arrests. Johnson v. Lindon City Corporation, No. 04-4067, 405 F.3d 1065 (10th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
Arrestee whose murder conviction was upheld on appeal was barred from pursuing his federal civil rights lawsuit over the warrantless search of his apartment and storage locker when he had a "full and fair" opportunity to litigate the Fourth Amendment issues involved in those searches in his criminal trial, and it was determined that those searches were lawful. Simpson v. Rowan, No. 04-1897, 125 Fed. Appx. 720 (7th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
Officer acted in an objectively reasonable manner in shooting a 15-year-old burglary suspect who advanced on her with a knife. Suspect's guilty plea to a criminal charge of threatening the officer with the knife precluded her from disputing that fact in her subsequent civil rights lawsuit. Jiron v. City of Lakewood, No. 02-1421, 392 F.3d 410 (10th Cir. 2004). [2005 LR Mar]
A determination by a state traffic tribunal that there had been probable cause under Rhode Island law to stop a vehicle barred relitigation of the issue in the motorist's subsequent federal civil rights lawsuit claiming that the stop was unlawful. Wiggins v. Rhode Island, #02-1418, 326 F. Supp. 2d 297 (D.R.I. 2004). [N/R]
Summary judgment in federal court on civil rights claims arising out of officers' traffic stop of motorist barred him, under the doctrine of collateral estoppel from relitigating in North Carolina state court, in the context of state law claims, essential elements of his negligence, false arrest, and assault claims which had been decided against him in the federal proceeding. Defendant police officers and municipality were therefore entitled to summary judgment, since the federal court found that the officers acted reasonably in their stopping and detention of the motorist and in their show of force and pat-down search executed at the time of the stop. Williams v. City of Jacksonville Police Department, No. COA03-1450, 599 S.E.2d 422 (N.C. 2004). [N/R]
Estate of man shot and killed by police was barred, by the doctrine of collateral estoppel, from relitigating the issue of whether the force used by the officers was excessive. Federal court had previously found that the officers acted in an objectively reasonable fashion in shooting and killing the man, a motorist, who had rammed his vehicle into an officer's vehicle and then continued to push the officer's vehicle backward. This conclusion in the federal case barred the estate from pursuing state law claims for assault and battery, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, as liability for such claims would be inconsistent with the resolution of the federal lawsuit. Vanvorous v. Burmeister, No. 248450, 687 N.W.2d 132 (Mich. App. 2004). [N/R]
A couple who asserted, in filing a bankruptcy proceeding, that they had no assets and no "contingent and unliquidated claims" of any nature, could not, after this assertion was accepted as true by the bankruptcy court, subsequently file a federal civil rights lawsuit less than a month later, asserting claims against a town and its police chief for an alleged pattern of "egregious conduct," including harassment, intimidation and threats towards the couple and their family, and an incident in which the wife was allegedly sexually assaulted by another officer employed by the town. Their assertion in the bankruptcy proceeding that they had no unsatisfied claims was inconsistent with their assertion of federal civil rights claims for conduct that pre-dated the bankruptcy. Plaintiffs were therefore "judicially estopped" from their assertion of a contrary position--that they had unsatisfied federal civil rights claims--in a subsequent proceeding. Howell v. Town of Leyden, No. CIV.A 02-30135-MAP, 335 F. Supp. 2d 248 (D. Mass. 2004).[N/R]
The rejection by a federal trial of the plaintiffs' federal civil rights claims of excessive force against a police officer, along with its dismissal, without prejudice, of their state claims, did not bar them from pursuing those state claims in a new lawsuit in West Virginia state court. West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals rejects the argument that state law claims such as assault, battery, and reckless misconduct by officer who broke a man's leg during an encounter were barred from further consideration under the doctrine of collateral estoppel. While the federal claims rejected by the federal court arose out of the same incident, different legal standards applied to the federal and state claims, so the issues involved in the state claims had not previously been decided on the merits. Neiswonger v. Hennessey, No. 31274, 601 S.E.2d 69 (W. Va. 2004). [N/R]
Deputy U.S. marshal acted in an objectively reasonable manner in making a capias arrest under a valid civil arrest warrant for the purposes of enforcing a lawful subpoena obtained by the U.S. government on behalf of the Department of Transportation in a pending enforcement case in which the arrestee had failed to respond to the subpoena. Additionally, the arrestee was barred under the doctrine of collateral estoppel from pursuing his civil rights claims concerning his arrest and custody by the deputy U.S. marshal under the warrant, since the court in the enforcement action had already ruled on those issues in a "show cause" hearing held following the arrest. Eck v. Gallucci, 321 F. Supp. 2d 368 (D. Conn. 2004). [N/R]
The issues as to whether a husband was falsely arrested for assault and whether his former wife should have been arrested instead were already litigated and determined in their dissolution of marriage proceeding, and the husband therefore was barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel from raising and relitigating them again in his lawsuit for false arrest and malicious prosecution. Law enforcement defendants were entitled to summary judgment. Riemers v. Anderson, No. 20030317, 680 N.W.2d 280 (N.D. 2004). [N/R]
A driver who was convicted of criminal charges of attempted assault for attempting to back his vehicle into an officer was barred from re-litigating the question of his mental state in a personal injury lawsuit brought by the officer. Appeals court finds that the doctrine of collateral estoppel applied, and that the issue of whether the driver's conduct was intentional had been definitively decided in the criminal case. Carr v. Holt, No. ED 82626, 134 S.W.3d 647 (Mo. App. E.D. 2004). [N/R]
Business owner who obtained suppression of evidence in federal criminal proceeding on the basis of alleged omissions of material facts from affidavit for search warrant was not entitled, in subsequent civil rights lawsuit in state court, to judicial notice of factual findings made in federal judge's order, or to collateral estoppel as to their truth, since the defendants in the subsequent lawsuit were not parties to the federal proceeding, and therefore had no opportunity to dispute those facts. Kilroy v. State of California, No. C044877, 2004 Cal. App. Lexis 839 (Cal. 3d App. Dist 2004). [2004 LR Jul]
Motorist's stipulation, in criminal proceeding, that there had been probable cause to arrest her for felony assault with a deadly weapon, a car, in a "road rage" incident, barred her pursuit of lawsuit for unlawful arrest. The stipulation either had a collateral estoppel effect, totaling barring the claim, or else, at the very least, was admissible in the case as an admission by the plaintiff, which could serve as a basis for summary judgment. Additionally, her continued pursuit of her civil lawsuit after signing the stipulation was sufficient to enter a finding that the lawsuit was maintained in bad faith, resulting in an award of attorneys' fees and costs to defendants. Salazar v. Upland Police Department, Nos. E032557, E033447, 11 Cal. Rptr. 2d 22 (Cal. App. 4th Dist. 2004). [N/R]
Decision of state court in criminal proceeding declining to find that arrestee's Fourth Amendment rights were violated by officers arresting and searching him in undercover drug operation barred him for relitigating the issue again in a federal civil rights lawsuit against undercover and arresting officers, so that lawsuit was barred by the defense of collateral estoppel. The arrestee had an adequate opportunity to call witnesses on the issue and to cross-examine prosecution witnesses at his criminal trial, where it was determined that his arrest was lawful. Mitchell v. Hartnett, 262 F. Supp. 2d 153 (S.D.N.Y. 2003). [N/R]
Decision of federal court dismissing an arrestee's civil rights claim did not have a collateral estoppel effect barring her claim for false arrest in state court, when the federal court did not decide the issue of whether the arrest, made pursuant to a warrant, was supported by probable cause. A remaining genuine issue of whether the warrant was obtained by officers acting in "reckless disregard for the truth" by refusing to consider exculpatory evidence made available by the arrestee's spouse made summary judgment on the lawsuit improper. Martinetti v. Town of New Hartford Police, 763 N.Y.S.2d 189 (A.D. 4th Dept. 2003). [N/R]
A finding at an arrestee's parole revocation hearing that he had struck a police officer did not have a "collateral estoppel" effect barring his lawsuit against the officer for excessive use of force, since the officer still could possibly be found to have used excessive force whether or not the arrestee struck him. Curry v. City of Syracuse, No. 01-9211, 316 F.3d 324 (2nd Cir. 2003). [N/R]
When the trial court found, in a criminal proceeding, that probable cause existed for the defendant's arrest, she was barred by "issue preclusion," (the defense of collateral estoppel) from asserting in a subsequent federal civil rights lawsuit following her acquittal on the underlying charges that she was illegally arrested without probable cause. Crumley v. City of St. Paul, Minn. No. 02-1257, 324 F.3d 1003 (8th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
Arrestee's federal civil rights lawsuit claiming that he was improperly taken into custody for pointing a gun at police officers approaching his door was barred by prior determination, during city police department firearms license revocation hearing, that the officers, rather than the arrestee, was telling the truth about the incident. Rodriguez v. City of New York, #00-9415, 41 Fed. Appx. 486 (2nd Cir. 2002). [2002 LR Dec]
Arrestee's conviction for resisting arrest did not bar him from asserting a federal civil rights claim for excessive use of force. Since arrestee had pled no contest to the charge, he did not have an actual opportunity to litigate the issue of the officer's use of force, and it was possible that the officers used excessive force at some point during the encounter. Jones v. Marcum, 197 F. Supp. 2d 991 (S.D. Ohio 2002). [2002 LR Aug]
Arrestee convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol was barred from bringing a federal civil rights lawsuit against arresting officer for false arrest arising out of the same incident, since an award on this claim would imply the invalidity of the conviction, which had not been overturned. Arrestee also could not pursue his due process claim for alleged deprivation of property (money) by the arresting officer when adequate state law remedies existed for this alleged intentional and unauthorized action. Davis v. Schifone, 185 F. Supp. 2d 95 (D. Mass. 2002). [2002 LR Jun]
326:23 A finding of probable cause at a preliminary hearing did not bar arrestee's later lawsuit for false arrest when trial judge heard evidence not available to the police officer at the time of arrest; plaintiff arrestee, therefore, was not barred from pursuing his federal civil rights claim. McCutchen v. City of Montclair, #E022025, 87 Cal. Rptr. 2d 95 (Cal. App. 1999).
329:67 Finding, in juvenile delinquency proceeding, that 15-year-old recklessly endangered the life of an officer precluded him from relitigating this fact in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officer for shooting him. Green v. Montgomery, 43 F.Supp. 2d 239 (E.D.N.Y. 1999).
318:84 Determination, in state criminal appeal, that affidavit for search warrant was inadequate did not bar officer who signed affidavit from asserting, in subsequent federal civil rights lawsuit, that she was entitled to qualified immunity for reasonably believing that affidavit was adequate. Gentile v. Bauder, 718 So. 2d 781 (Fla. 1998).
318:83 Police board's finding, in disciplinary hearing, that crossing guard violated various departmental rules and Illinois law when stopped by housing authority police officers did not bar her from pursuing her excessive force claim against those officers; excessive force may occur during a lawful arrest. Banks v. Chicago Housing Authority, 13 F.Supp. 2d 793 (N.D. Ill. 1998).
The plaintiff cannot be collaterally estopped from suing under Section 1983 because he is raising a different issue than that raised in the preliminary hearing Whitley v. Siebel, 676 F.2d 245 (7th Cir. 1982).
Even though man pled guilty to criminal charge, he can subsequently sue claiming illegal search Haring v. Prosise, 103 S.Ct. 2368 (1983).
Plaintiff's Section 1983 action against police officers for illegal search and seizure collaterally estopped since that issue was raised in motion to suppress during his criminal trial Lucien v. Roegner, 574 F.Supp. 118 (N.D.Ill. 1983).
Plaintiff's conviction estopped him from suing; claim regarding excessive force during arrest was not estopped Camarano v. City of New York, 577 F.Supp. 18 (S.D.N.Y. 1984).
" See also: Negligence; Vehicle Related
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