AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Civil Liability of Law Enforcement Agencies & Personnel
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Domestic Violence & Child Abuse
Monthly Law Journal
Liability and Domestic Violence Calls -- Part One, 2008
(5) AELE Mo. L.J. 101.
Monthly Law Journal Article: Civil Liability and Domestic Violence Calls -- Part Two, 2008 (6) AELE Mo. L.J. 101.
Monthly Law Journal Article: Civil Liability and Domestic Violence Calls -- Part Three, 2008 (7) AELE Mo. L.J. 101.
Monthly Law Journal Article: Domestic Violence and the Reluctant Victim, by Rodney Hill, J.D., 2009 (4) AELE Mo. L. J. 501.
Monthly Law Journal Article: Greene v. Camreta - The Ninth Circuit's Ruling on Questioning Minors in Abuse Investigations, 2010 (6) AELE Mo. L. J. 101.
Officers responded to a 911 call reporting a situation in which an ex-boyfriend was allegedly brandishing a rifle in an argument with his former girlfriend after having been released from jail on a domestic abuse charge. An officer encountering the man running in the area, with no rifle visible, ordered him to the ground and used force to try to get him down when he did not obey, including kicking and punching. The man fled over a wood fence. Four officers eventually caught him, but he continued to resist, gabbing the fence to try to pull himself up. They punched and kneed him, struck him in the back with the butt of a shotgun, lay on top of him, and repeatedly used a Taser in the dart mode on him in an attempt to subdue him. They managed to use three sets of handcuffs to connect his arms behind his back, and rolled him over. He was not breathing and he died. No weapon was seen during the encounter, and none was found. The officer involved in the initial encounter was entitled to qualified immunity, as a reasonable officer would not have known that a decision to kick and hit the resisting man in an attempt to detain him clearly violated the Fourth Amendment. The officers involved in the second encounter were also entitled to qualified immunity as the plaintiff failed to show that any of the force used was unconstitutional. Further, even if it had been unconstitutional, that was not clearly established at the time under these circumstances. There was insufficient evidence that the officers intentionally apprehended the decedent in a manner that they believed was prohibited by law. A state law wrongful death claim and a vicarious liability claim against the defendant city were both also rejected, with official immunity applied to these claims. Smith v. City of Minneapolis, #13-1157, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 10538 (8th Cir.).
A woman had a protective order requiring a man who had been convicted of domestic abuse to stay away from her and her home. She told a police officer that the man had been violating the order by calling and visiting her home. When the officer said that he would contact the man to get his side of the story, the woman told him that if he did so without arresting the man, it was very likely that the man would come to her home and violently retaliate. That was exactly what happened, and the man broke into her home and shot her three times after being questioned by an officer. A federal appeals court rejected her substantive due process/state created danger claim against the officer, as the officer was facing conflicting versions of what had happened and whether the man had violated the protective order, and his decision not to arrest him was therefore not conscience shocking. Nothing that this and other officers did or failed to do showed a state created danger or the existence of a special relationship imposing a duty to protect. There was also nothing to show that officers who responded to the incident were deliberately indifferent to the woman's injuries. The appeals court reversed, however, summary judgment for the State of Iowa, a halfway house where the man resided, and the director of that facility, on claims that they were deliberately indifferent to the man's history of violating a protective order. The plaintiff did not have notice that the trial court was considering summary judgment for the state defendants and no opportunity to make legal arguments on these claims. Montgomery v. City of Ames, #13-2111, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 6572 (8th Cir.).
The daughter of a man shot and killed by police while responding to a domestic disturbance call did not have standing to bring federal civil rights claims when she failed to allege that she was the personal representative of his estate or his successor in interest. The court also upheld the rejection of a substantive due process claim, as there was absolutely no evidence that the officers fired for any reason except self defense when the man was armed with a knife. Further proceedings, though, were ordered on California wrongful death claims because reasonable jurors could find that the use of deadly force was not objectively reasonable and whether he posed a threat to the officers was a disputed issue. Hayes v. County of San Diego, #09-55644, 736 F.3d 1223, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 23939 (9th Cr.).
A woman was shot three times by her husband before he committed suicide. She sued officials , arguing that, while there is no general obligation to protect specific people against crime, once protective services are provided, the state cannot protect men while failing to protect women. She claimed that law enforcement officers should have protected her because some relatives had told them that her husband was potentially violent and suicidal. Additionally, she asserted that she had reported that her husband hit her, obtained an order of protection, that her husband had admitted violating, and that guns he had acquired were not confiscated despite being illegally obtained. Further, when her husband was finally arrested for domestic violence, he was quickly released. A federal appeals court overturned a denial of qualified immunity for the defendants. It reasoned that the fact that the defendants had a different assessment of the risk that her husband posed to her than the plaintiff had did not prove that they engaged in sex discrimination. Bond v. Atkinson, #11-3275, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 17815 (7th Cir.).
Officers who entered a residence in response to a report of domestic violence attempted to arrest a man suffering from bipolar disorder who was fighting with his brother. During the arrest, the man initially resisted and was armed with a baseball bat. An officer used a Taser three times in the dart mode after he was ordered to drop the bat. The second use of the Taser caused him to drop the bat, and the third caused him to fall to the ground. Two officers then sat on his back. The officer with the Taser then activated it in the dart mode a fourth time, and then used the Taser in the stun mode against the arrestee six more times. After the tenth use of the Taser, the arrestee appeared to be unconscious, went into cardiac arrest and died. Some officers claimed that the arrestee was continuing to resist efforts to put him in handcuffs during the last seven deployments of the Taser, that he was able to regain possession of the bat, and that he tried to bite officers when he again lost possession of the bat. One officer, however, testified in her deposition that the arrestee had stopped resisting, that officers were then sitting on his upper, lower, and middle body, and that he was rigid and kept his hand underneath his body. Rejecting the claim of the officer who deployed the Taser for summary judgment, the court stated that, "[i]t is an excessive and unreasonable use of force for a police officer repeatedly to administer electrical shocks with a Taser on an individual who no longer is armed, has been brought to the ground, has been restrained physically by several other officers, and no longer is resisting arrest." Since officers using "unnecessary, gratuitous, and disproportionate force" do not act in an objectively reasonable manner, qualified immunity was not available as a defense for the last seven uses of the Taser. Qualified immunity was granted, however, for the first three uses of the Taser and for the warrantless entry into the residence, which was supported by probable cause. Meyers v. Baltimore County, #11-2191, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 2282, 2013 WL 388125 (4th Circuit).
A man turned himself in after a warrant was issued for his arrest for misdemeanor domestic assault. The affidavit for the warrant said that the arrest would be without bail. The arrestee's request to post bail or to speak to a judge was denied. The sheriff incorrectly told him that he had to be held for at least 12 hours because of the charge of domestic assault. That requirement actually only applied when there was a specific finding that the arrestee was a threat to the alleged victim, and no such finding was made. The next morning, a judge set bail and the defendant was released. Charges were dropped ten months later. The county admitted to having a policy of holding all domestic violence arrestees for at least 12 hours regardless of circumstances. A federal appeals court upheld summary judgment on a lawsuit claiming that the arrestee had been denied procedural due process and the Eighth Amendment right not to be held on excessive bail. Regardless of any provisions in state law, the Eighth Amendment relates to the amount of bail, not its timing and there is no constitutional right to "speedy bail." The Eighth Amendment does not require a particularized examination before bail is set, and the use of a bond schedule to set the amount did not mean that it was excessive. Since no constitutional liberty interest was involved, the due process claim also failed. Fields v. Henry County., #11-6352, 701 F.3d 180 (6th Circuit, 2012).
A deaf man arrested in a domestic violence situation involving him and one of his deaf children stated a viable disability discrimination claim. He asserted that handcuffing him in the back prevented him from writing notes in order to communicate with the deputies. "The injury is the failure to make communication as effective as it would have been among deputies and persons without disabilities." The deputies were entitled to qualified immunity from liability, however, based on the exigent circumstances involved in a domestic violence situation. With the deputies concerned about their own safety and the safety of the man's family, it was reasonable to try to accommodate his disability by calling an American Sign Language trainee to assist in communication, and by attempting to use his father as an interpreter, even though those accommodations were not the best practices. Seremeth v. Board of County Commissioners Frederick County, #10-1711, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 5105 (4th Cir.).
A woman brought five children sleeping at her house (her minor daughter and four minor grandchildren) to the hospital. She had found blood on the underwear of her daughter and learned that the boys and girls had slept together rather than in gender-separate rooms. After she refused to consent to the sedation of the girl for purposes of a sexual assault examination, she attempted to leave with the children. Medical staff members and police imposed a 72-hour hold on the girl and the boy suspected of assaulting her, and ultimately examinations of both children were carried out. Police and medical personnel were entitled to summary judgment on civil rights claims brought against them. They did not violate the Fourth Amendment or Fourteenth Amendment rights of the woman or the children under the circumstances. Doe v. Tsai, #10-2655, 648 F.3d 584 (8th Cir. 2011).
A federal appeals court overturned a grant of qualified immunity to a child services caseworker who entered a couple's home and removed their children to state custody. There were factual issues as to whether the caseworker recklessly or knowingly made false statements in his affidavit submitted to a court to obtain an order to enter the home. There were also issues concerning whether the caseworker was confused as to which children actually lived with the plaintiffs. Further proceedings were ordered on unlawful search and seizure claims, as well as procedural and substantive due process claims. Southerland v. City of New York, #07-4449, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 11942 (2nd Cir.).
The operator of a day care facility was prosecuted for felony child abuse after a baby there died of a brain hemorrhage and a hospital doctor stated that the child died from being shaken in day care. The doctor failed to reveal before taking the stand in court that there was a pathology report showing that the shaking occurred before the baby arrived at the day care facility. The exonerated day care operator filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state director of child services for failure to enforce policies to ensure that doctors disclose exculpatory evidence to prosecutors. A federal appeals court, however, ruled that it was not clearly established that a child services agency had a constitutional duty in these circumstances to discover or train others to disclose exculpatory evidence in child abuse cases. Tiscareno v. Anderson, #09-4238, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 4977 (10th Cir.).
A man arrested for violating an injunction against "dating violence, which prohibited him from contacting a woman in person or on the phone, or using another person to contact her, claimed that he was arrested and prosecuted without probable cause. Evidence showed, however, that the woman, who was a realtor, received four calls from someone named "Lisa," purporting to be interested in real estate, but that when she returned the calls, she heard the plaintiff's voice saying "Got Her!," along with cheering and laughter, and other evidence of possible violations. Arguable probable cause existed for the obtaining of a capias warrant for the arrest. Because the plaintiff's case was found to be frivolous, the defendants were properly awarded attorneys' fees. Angiolillo v. Collier County, #10-10895, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 17762 (Unpub. 11th Cir.).
An African-American Muslim woman and her three minor daughters sued the county, its child welfare agency, and several agency employees for actions taken in the course of a child abuse and neglect investigation. They claimed that abuse and neglect accusations were fabricated, that false information about them was released to the media, and that the defendants acted with racial and religious animus and retaliatory intent intended to "intimidate and silence" them from complaining, in violation of their First Amendment rights. After the woman's teenage son intimated that he suffered physical abuse at home, an investigation resulted in the removal of the three daughters from the home on accusations that the mother neglected their educational needs. A year later, the mother was exonerated, and the complaint was dismissed. A federal appeals court found that claims against two supervisory officials in the defendant agency were properly rejected as there was no evidence that they either encouraged or condoned the allegedly illegal actions of their subordinate, a defendant caseworker. The court also found no evidence that there had been any intent to "intimidate and silence" the plaintiffs from exercising their First Amendment rights. Abdulsalaam v. Franklin County Board of Commissioners, #09-4018, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 21334 (Unpub. 6th Cir.).
After a father was acquitted by a jury of charges that he had sexually abused his minor daughter, he filed a federal civil rights lawsuit for false arrest, malicious prosecution, and various other claims. Upholding summary judgment for the defendants, a federal appeals court rejected the argument that the investigation conducted "shocked the conscience." While the investigation "certainly may have benefited from additional interviews and evidence collection," including information about a past accusation against the father by his other daughter that was found to be "unfounded," etc., there was still sufficient evidence of possible abuse to justify the arrest and prosecution. Both were supported by probable cause based on the daughter's accusations, and the opinions of a doctor's forensic interview of her. Livingston v. Allegheny County, #10-1596, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 23339 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
Plaintiffs who were accused of child abuse in California, but were later exonerated, had their names added to a Child Abuse Central Index, where they would remain available to various state agencies for at least 10 years. There was no state mechanism for contesting the inclusion of their names, nor had Los Angeles County created any procedure to do so. They sued the county and public officials, claiming that this violated their constitutional rights. They sought damages, injunctive relief and declaratory relief. A federal appeals court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment required the state to provide those on the list with notice and a hearing, and that the plaintiffs were entitled to declaratory relief and were prevailing parties entitled to attorney's fees, including $60,000 from the county. The county objected, claiming that as a municipal entity, it was liable only if its "policy or custom" caused the deprivation of a plaintiff's federal right, but a state policy caused any deprivation here. The appeals court ruled that the plaintiffs did prevail against the county on their claim for declaratory relief because the policy or custom requirement did not apply to prospective relief claims. The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, holding that there can be no municipal liability in the absence of a finding of an official policy or custom regardless of the type of relief sought or awarded. Los Angeles Cty. v. Humphries, #09–350, 2010 U.S. Lexis 9444
Police were entitled to qualified immunity in a lawsuit filed by a man who claimed that they violated his rights by entering his home without a warrant while responding to a 911 call placed by his wife. They questioned him and other family members prior to placing him under arrest for domestic battery, The 911 call, the court found, provided probable cause for their entry, particularly when police were unable to return the initial call, and the wife, who admitted making the call, subsequently gave evasive and false answers as to why she called. The officers acted reasonably in continuing their investigation and questioning the children who were present. Hanson v. Dane County, Wis., #09-1759, 608 F.3d 335 (7th Cir. 2010).
A woman claimed that her rights, and those of her children, were violated when social workers, aided by police officers, used force to enter her home and remove her children. While all of the woman's claims were time barred, claims on behalf of her children were not barred by doctrines preventing federal courts from interfering with state court judgments. The children's claims did not seek reversal of the decision of a state juvenile court to award temporary custody of them to the state, but rather concerned the legality of the actions of the defendants that led up to the juvenile court's decision. Kovacic v. Cuyahoga County Dep't of Children & Family Serv., #08-4656, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 10692 (6th Cir.).
The City of Denver reached a $175,000 settlement in a wrongful arrest lawsuit brought in federal court by a woman mistakenly arrested for purported violation of a protective order that was supposed to protect her against her estranged boyfriend. The order barred him from coming within 100 yards of her, but was not reciprocal. She was arrested for violating the order when she complained to police that her boyfriend used his truck to stop her from exiting the parking lot at a police station, resulting in her spending the night in custody. The settlement agreement also provides for additional training for officers on how to enforce protective orders. Shroff v. Spellman, #1:-7-cv-01466, U.S. Dist. Ct. (D. Colo. June 29, 2010). Prior to the settlement agreement, a federal appeals court rejected an argument from the arresting officer that he was entitled to qualified immunity and had arguable probable cause to arrest the plaintiff. The plaintiff also claimed that her right to privacy was violated. She had to pump breast milk while in custody because she was breast feeding and the arresting officer allegedly required her to do so in a manner that exposed her breasts to a female police cadet. The appeals court found that the trial court did not err in finding that this constituted an illegal strip search under the circumstances. Shroff v. Spellman, #09-1084, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 12066 (10th Cir).
A father claimed that his substantive and procedural due process rights were violated because he was not notified of an investigation into allegations that his daughter had been molested and that someone had coerced her to change her testimony in the ensuing trial. The appeals court ruled that the father had no clearly established constitutional right to such information and that the defendants were therefore entitled to qualified immunity. James v. Rowlands, #08-16642, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 10723 (9th Cir.).
A woman whose home daycare business was subjected to an investigation sued two state childcare agency employees and a county deputy for alleged violations of her constitutional rights. The court found that there was probable cause for the suspension of the business's license based on a complaint that her son had sexually assaulted his daughter and the daughter's friend in the home. This probable cause existed regardless of the deputy's alleged retaliation against the business for failing to cooperate with his investigation. Because the alleged retaliation did not cause the license suspension, the deputy was entitled to qualified immunity. Because the plaintiff voluntarily relinquished her daycare license, her due process claims against the childcare agency employees were barred. McBeth v. Himes, #07-1165, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 4893 (10th Cir.).
Police officers took a man's intoxicated girlfriend from his home after she refused demands that she leave, gave her a ticket for trespassing, and released her to her mother. Shortly after that, she returned to her boyfriend's home and fatally shot him, as well as injuring two others present at the time. The injured persons, and the decedent's estate claimed that police officers acted improperly in arresting the girlfriend for trespassing instead of for domestic violence. A domestic violence arrest would have required that she be kept in custody for 29 hours, the plaintiffs argued, preventing the shootings. Upholding summary judgment for the officers, a federal appeals court ruled that the officers had not created or increased the danger to the decedent and other plaintiffs. The court also rejected equal protection and due process claims. Estate of Smithers v. City of Flint, #09-1164, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 8201 (6th Cir.).
A woman, on her own behalf, and on behalf of her children, sued the city of New York for damages for injuries she suffered when she was shot by her former boyfriend. The attack took place hours after a police officer, who knew that the woman had a domestic violence order of protection against the ex-boyfriend, allegedly told her that officers would immediately arrest him. The plaintiff claimed that this created a "special relationship" with her, amounting to an exception to the general rule that police have no particular duty to protect an individual against violence by another private person. Rejecting this claim of a special relationship giving rise to a special duty to provide adequate protection, an intermediate state appeals court found that the plaintiff failed to prove that she justifiably relied on the alleged assurance of protection. Her reliance, the court found, was based on little more than mere belief, as there was no visible police conduct of any sort after the officer told her there would be an arrest. Indeed, the plaintiff herself knew that if officers were to attempt to arrest the boyfriend, they would first need some time to find him. Valdez v. City of New York, #16507/97, 2010 N.Y. App. Div. Lexis 3408 (1st Dept.).
A New York mother claimed that city employees had violated her rights and the rights of her infant child in taking actions accusing her of child abuse. Rejecting these claims, despite the fact that the child abuse allegations were subsequently withdrawn, a federal appeals court found that a diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome by two doctors provided investigating personnel with adequate probable cause to initiate both custody removal and child abuse proceedings. Even if the personnel involved had been aware of one doctor's alleged reputation, which included accusations that he overdiagnosed child abuse, it still would not have made it unreasonable for them to rely on her diagnosis in taking these steps. V.S. v. Muhammad, #08-5157, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 3017 (2nd Cir.).
Parents and students claimed that a Nevada state child protection official improperly removed the students from a school during an abuse investigation. The action was taken after the official had compiled a "significant amount" of evidence of sexual activity allegedly taking place at the school involving staff members and students, as well as poor living conditions, inadequate medical care, the lack of supervision, and the possibility that two employees had criminal records. The official, therefore, could have reasonably concluded that the removal of the students was justified by a concern for their safety and did not violate the Fourth Amendment. The actions also did not violate the parents' rights to family integrity under the Fourteenth Amendment, as the failure to contact them before removing the students did not violate clearly established law. Barragan v. Landry, #08-16790, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 483 (Unpub. 9th Cir.).
Parents and students claimed that a Nevada state child protection official improperly removed the students from a school during an abuse investigation. The action was taken after the official had compiled a "significant amount" of evidence of sexual activity allegedly taking place at the school involving staff members and students, as well as poor living conditions, inadequate medical care, the lack of supervision, and the possibility that two employees had criminal records. The official, therefore, could have reasonably concluded that the removal of the students was justified by a concern for their safety and did not violate the Fourth Amendment. The actions also did not violate the parents' rights to family integrity under the Fourteenth Amendment, as the failure to contact them before removing the students did not violate clearly established law. Barragan v. Landry, #08-16790, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 483 (Unpub. 9th Cir.).
A caseworker and a deputy sheriff seized and interrogated one of a woman's daughters for two hours in a private office at her school, allegedly without a warrant, probable cause or parental consent, because they suspected that the woman's husband had been sexually molesting her. The caseworker later obtained a court order removing both of the woman's daughters from her home and subjected them to "intrusive" sexual abuse examinations. A federal appeals court found that the "special needs" search doctrine could not apply to justify the seizure, given the deep involvement of law enforcement personnel and purposes. The decision to seize and interrogate the first daughter without a warrant, court order, exigent circumstances or parental consent was unconstitutional, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. But the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity because the application of the Fourth Amendment to an in school seizure of a suspected sexual abuse victim was not clearly established. The caseworker was not, however, entitled to qualified immunity on a claim of having made a false representation. Further proceedings were required on due process claims regarding the obtaining of the child removal order and the exclusion of the mother from her daughter's medical examinations. Greene v. Camreta, #06-35333, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 26891 (9th Cir.).
The use of a Taser against a husband in a domestic violence case did not violate his rights, given the close quarters in which the officers and the plaintiffs encountered each other and the intoxicated state the husband was in, which indicated that the officers faced a very real threat of immediate harm. Mattos v. Agarano, #08-15567, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 694 (9th Cir.).
State social workers were properly granted qualified immunity for taking custody of the plaintiff's children. The right of parents and children to live together without interference is limited by a governmental need to investigate serious abuse claims. In this case, there was good cause for the defendants to believe that parental sexual abuse had taken place, and under such circumstances, they did not need a court order to remove the children to protect them against what they believed was an imminent danger of serious bodily injury. As for claims concerning the defendants' subsequent filing of a custody petition and alleged falsification of evidence in connection with it, they were entitled to absolute immunity. Haldeman v. Golden, #08-15648, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 25610 (Unpub. 9th Cir).
Attorney employees of a city's child welfare agency were entitled to absolute prosecutorial immunity for actions taken in connection with an investigation into the death of the plaintiff's infant son, since their function was similar to that of a prosecutor. Caseworkers involved in the case, however, acted more like investigators than prosecutors, so they could assert, at most, qualified immunity defenses, and were not entitled to absolute immunity from liability. Cornejo v. Bell, No. 08-3069 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 38 (2nd Cir.).
A police officer who went to a woman's home to respond to a domestic violence complaint concerning her boyfriend, who had fled, was justified in arresting her for violating a state child endangerment statute, based on her observations of the condition of the apartment, including her concerns that the woman's son could hurt himself by picking up the razor blades that were on the floor, ingesting the cigarette butts on the floor, being attacked by the pit bull in the kitchen, or drowning in the sewage that was in the bathtub. Herrera v. City of Albuquerque, #09-2010, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 27104 (10th Cir.).
A fourteen-year old daughter ran away from the home of her mother and stepfather. Her mother and father were divorced. When interviewed, she told an officer that her stepfather had struck her and also that he repeatedly grabbed her breasts. The officer, without contacting the father, and lacking a warrant, took the girl into protective custody. The father, mother, and stepfather sued, claiming that the officer violated their Fourteenth Amendment right to familial association. A federal appeals court upheld summary judgment for the officer because he had a reasonable basis to belief that the girl faced imminent danger of physical harm, and the officer was entitled to qualified immunity on claims arising from his failure to contact the father. The county, however, was not entitled to summary judgment on the father's claim that the failure to contact him violated his rights. Burke v County of Alameda, #08-15658, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 24715 (9th Cir.).
Three officers went to the home of a man's brother, after the man's girlfriend told them that he had assaulted her and may have gone there. Two officers handcuffed the brother after he answered the door, while the third officer made a warrantless entry into the house to look for the suspect. A federal appeals court rejected the argument that the warrantless entry was justified by the possible presence inside of the house of a domestic violence suspect with a child. No facts were asserted which would indicate that the suspect was a threat to his child or anyone else, and a belief that an unarmed domestic violence suspect may be present does not justify a protective sweep of the premises under these conditions. A jury could also find that the use of force against the brother was not objectively reasonable, since he did not resist and was given no time to comply with a request to step outside before he was forcibly removed and subsequently allegedly injured. The officers were not entitled to qualified immunity. Smith v. Kansas City, #09-1484, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 24591 (8th Cir.).
Parents' minor children were removed from their custody by county workers after a drug raid at the home found both drugs and filthy living conditions. The parents claimed that their due process rights were violated because there was no custody hearing within 72 hours, as required by a Pennsylvania state statute, but instead a hearing four days later, which decided that the children should not be returned to them. A federal appeals court held that the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity since it was objectively reasonable for them to believe they were acting lawfully under the circumstances presented. A violation of a state statute does not necessarily show a violation of federal constitutional procedural due process. Jarovits v. Monroe County Children and Youth Services, #07-4336, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 20875 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A police detective was entitled to qualified immunity on a father's claim that his procedural due process rights were violated when the detective, acting on doctors' advice, without prior notice to the father, temporarily took the father's infant daughter into custody in order to provide the child with diagnostic tests and treatment. The mother had brought the infant to the hospital. A federal appeals court found that there had been a genuine issue of fact as to whether or not the infant had been in imminent danger when she was removed from her mother's custody. It was not clearly established, at the time of the incident, that the detective was legally required to provide pre-deprivation notice to an absent parent as well as to the parent at the hospital. Any right to post-deprivation notice that the father had was satisfied by one he received from a child protective services agency. Mueller v. Auker, #07-35554, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 17826 (9th Cir.).
The live-in girlfriend of a local tavern part-owner claimed that her boyfriend was well known to local police, who socialized with him at his tavern, where he allegedly bragged to them that he could "get away" with what he wanted in the village. She allegedly repeatedly called police for assistance when her boyfriend abused her, but police failed to arrest him or interview him at any length about these incidents, filing only one domestic incident report. Police allegedly refused to arrest the boyfriend even after he violated an order of protection. While a federal appeals court upheld the rejection of the woman's equal protection claims, it overturned summary judgment for officers on her due process claims, finding a genuine issue of fact as to whether the officers "implicitly but affirmatively sanctioned" the alleged abuse. The court also ordered further proceedings on whether the village's failure to adequately train its officers, or the policies and customs that it has sanctioned, caused the individual officers to violate her rights. Okin v. Cornwall-on-Hudson, #06-5142, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 18422 (2nd Cir.).
After school officials saw red marks on a boy's nose, they called child protective services and a social worker took the child into custody. The child stated that he had been hit and pinched by his father and was afraid to go home, so he was placed into a child receiving home rather than allowed to go home on the school bus. The boy's parents filed a federal civil rights lawsuit for violation of their son's Fourth Amendment rights and violation of their own Fourteenth Amendment rights to familial association. Under these circumstances, and given the very short time period within which to decide, a federal appeals court found, the social worker could have reasonably believed that her actions were lawful and needed to protect the boy against the danger of serious bodily harm. Even if these actions did violate the parents' rights, the social worker was entitled to qualified immunity. Springer v. Placer County, #08-15392, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 13112 (Unpub. 9th Cir.).
A mother and the adoptive father sued a county and prosecutors for alleged violations of their child's Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights by declining to prosecute the child's biological father for child sexual assault. The right to assert an equal protection claim is available to those subject to or threatened to discriminatory prosecution, the appeals court stated, but has never been recognized as extending to crime victims who claim to have been injured by the failure to prosecute an offender. As the plaintiffs' claimed injury was from the failure to prosecute the biological father, rather than based on failure to provide police protection, the court upheld dismissal of the lawsuit. Parkhurst v. Tabor, #08-2610, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 13774 (8th Cir.).
A lawsuit claimed that officers failed to provide protection required under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act when a woman, subsequently killed, repeatedly contacted police to complain that her husband was threatening to use guns in their home to kill her. An intermediate Illinois appeals court ruled that the trial court had improperly dismissed the lawsuit, erroneously ruling that the protection of the statute did not apply in the absence of the decedent having obtained or attempted to obtain a domestic violence order of protection. Beyer v. The City of Joliet, No. 3-08-0023, 2009 Ill. App. Lexis 356 (3rd Dist.).
After a woman's intoxicated boyfriend was arrested for assaulting her at a bar, he allegedly was released that evening, despite having told police that he was on probation for an aggravated assault, and having stated that it "was not over" between himself and his girlfriend. After his release, he again attacked her, causing her severe permanent injuries. Rejecting a due process failure to warn claim, the court found that the officers' failure to warn the plaintiff of her boyfriend's release did not "shock the conscience" or constitute deliberate indifference. The federal court, after dismissing the civil rights claim, declined to exercise jurisdiction over state law claims in the lawsuit. Caissie v. City of Cape May, #1:08-cv-0303, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 44666 (D.N.J.).
Officers did not act unreasonably for arresting a man for violating a domestic violence order of protection after his wife told them he had violated the order. A reasonable officer would not have believed her later statement that the protection order had been vacated when she complained about her husband violating it after the date of the alleged vacating. Further, the record contained no evidence of a written order vacating the protective order. Even if it actually had been vacated, under these circumstances no reasonable officer would have believed that the arrest was illegal, given no proof that the order was not still in effect. Martin v. Russell, #08-2577, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 9642 (8th Cir.).
Mother failed to establish claims that a caseworker and police investigator violated the due process rights of her and her children by allegedly suppressing evidence of physical and sexual abuse of the children by their father and providing false or misleading testimony about the mother's actions during custody hearings. The federal civil rights claims were barred since they involved issues that had been decided in the custody proceedings by state courts. The mother could not, acting as her own lawyer, pursue disability discrimination claims on behalf of one of her children, who has a speech disability, based on the alleged failure of the defendants to provide assistance from a qualified speech therapist for the child during their interviews concerning possible sexual abuse. Shaw v. Lynchburg Dept. of Social Services, #6:08CV00022, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 6659 (W.D. Va.).
Police department was entitled to immunity from liability under Illinois law on the claim that its personnel acted willfully and wantonly in failing to prevent a woman from being killed by her ex-boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend's chiropractor told the police department that the ex-boyfriend was talking about having the ex-girlfriend killed and seeking to set up a pattern of appointments as a possible alibi. Rejecting the argument that a limitation to tort immunity contained in a state domestic violence law applied, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that it was inapplicable because police were not involved in enforcement of the domestic violence statute at the time of the murder. Lacey v. The Village of Palatine, #106353, 2009 Ill. Lexis 186.
Defendants not directly participating in alleged due process violations in connection with the maintenance of California's Child Abuse Central Index, or who merely reasonably complied with the duly enacted statutes could not be held liable for purportedly denying identified individuals with a fair chance to challenge the accusations against them. The plaintiffs were placed on the index of child abusers despite the findings of two courts that the accusations against them by a "rebellious" child were "not true." The court held that California, in maintaining the index, violated the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to provide the plaintiffs with a fair opportunity to challenge their inclusion. The county was not entitled to summary judgment on the claims against it, although individual defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. Humphries v. County of Los Angeles, No. 05-56467, 547 F.3d 1117 (9th Cir. 2008).
California state programs that provided benefits for women and their children who were the victims of domestic violence, while denying such programs to men and their children who are the victims of domestic violence violated the equal protection guarantees of the state Constitution. Even if fewer men than women were affected by domestic violence, this did not mean that they were not similarly situated to women or provide a compelling governmental interest justifying a gender-based classification. Woods v. Shewry, #C056072, 2008 Cal. App. Lexis 1588 167 Cal. App. 4th 658; 84 Cal. Rptr. 3d 332 (3rd Dist. Cal. App.).
A woman told police that her roommate was trying to hit her boyfriend with a screwdriver, and the boyfriend stated that the roommate came towards him with the screwdriver and threw it at him. During an arrest of the roommate for domestic violence, the roommate's arm was broken. Rejecting both false arrest and excessive force claims, a federal appeals court found that there was probable cause for the arrest, and sufficient evidence from which a jury could believe the officer's statements indicating that the arm was broken during the use of a restraint hold used after the arrestee elbowed the officer. Rosa v City of Fort Myers, FL., No. 07-15763, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 22243 (Unpub. 11th Cir.),
A woman called police and claimed that her husband had been drinking and was trying to leave with their infant daughter. The officers found that the husband was sober and he went to visit relatives. He slept in the same bed as the daughter and another child, and when he woke up, the daughter was dead. The wife claimed that officers who responded to her call improperly threatened to arrest her if she removed her daughter from her husband's car. While the officers claimed that they had a reasonable belief that the mother was about to violate a Tennessee state domestic assault law, the court ruled that the mother, at the time, had a legal right to her daughter, so that removing the child from the car would not have violated the statute. The mother was denied summary judgment, as were the officers on a Fourth Amendment claim, but they were granted summary judgment on a 14th Amendment due process claim. The mother failed to show that the city was liable on the basis of inadequate training of the officers. Adams v. Hendersonville, No. 3:06-cv-00788, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 72003 (M.D. Tenn.).
After a woman called 911 to complain about a domestic dispute, her boyfriend was found dead from a gunshot wound in the back of his head. She was interrogated by police for between six and eight hours before she confessed, but a jury later acquitted her of murder charges. Interrogation techniques used by deputies, such as telling her that she would never see her children again, not letting her sleep, and not allowing her to take anti-anxiety medicine, did not shock the conscience in violation of her due process rights. The court further found that medical examiners did not have a duty under Florida law to continue investigating the decedent's cause of death, even though the evidence did not rule out the possibility that the wound might have been self-inflicted. The court also found that there was probable cause for the arrest under these circumstances. Smith v. Campbell, No. 08-11161, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 19085 (Unpub. 11th Cir.).
A federal court dismissed civil rights claims by the estate of a woman allegedly murdered by a sheriff's deputy, her ex-husband, after other deputies allegedly failed to arrest him following her domestic violence call. The civil rights claim was based on a "class-of-one" equal protection argument, but the plaintiff failed to show that the deputies, in failing to arrest their fellow deputy, had adopted a policy directed at discriminating against the decedent. Florida state law negligence claims against the county sheriff remain at issue. The Estate of Hawkins v. Eslinger, No. 6:07-cv-1261, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 39492 (M.D. Fla.).
A woman married to a police officer failed to show that she was denied equal protection regarding alleged incidents of domestic violence. The wife claimed that officers unjustifiably stopped her on a number of occasions, that her husband stalked her in his police vehicle, and that she was intentionally treated differently than other victims of domestic violence not married to police officers. To the contrary, the court found that officers took steps to try to protect the wife, even over the objections of both her husband and herself, including going to their home in response to a 911 call which was made and then "rescinded," and filing various reports. Any actual difference in treatment was the result of the wife's own requests, as she asked that only "informal" measures be taken to stop her husband's alleged violent actions. Mata v. City of Kingsville, Tex., No. 06-41518, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 9211 (5th Cir.).
An undersheriff was entitled to qualified immunity on an equal protection claim asserted by a lesbian who obtained an emergency protective order based on alleged domestic violence by her estranged girlfriend, but not on claims that he refused to enforce a permanent protective order that she subsequently obtained. The emergency order allowed the girlfriend to access the home for a period of time to retrieve some of her property, while the permanent order barred her from the premises altogether. The plaintiff claimed that she was provided with a lesser degree of protection than that provided to heterosexual victims of domestic violence. The court also allowed a Fourth Amendment claim to proceed on the basis that the undersheriff told the plaintiff not to return to her home while her girlfriend was present, and that he would arrest her if she did, which allegedly facilitated the girlfriend's seizure of some of the plaintiff's property from the premises. Price-Cornelison v. Brooks, No. 05-6140, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 9628 (10th Cir.).
Minor failed to show that there was a mandatory duty under California state law to protect her from violence by her father, who stabbed her in the heart and lung. The father had previously been arrested for screaming in an uncontrollable manner in the street and around his apartment, and violently banging on a refrigerator. Following the arrest, a urine test showed that he was under the influence of phencyclidine. Even though the ensuing investigation by a social worker was "lousy" and failed to make a proper determination about the risk of returning the minor to her father, there was immunity from liability for the exercise of discretion under these circumstances. Ortega v. Sacramento County Dept. of Health & Human Services, No C054262, 2008 Cal. App. Lexis 470 (3rd Dist.).
A deputy who arrested a husband for violating a protective order obtained by his wife barring him from entering the driveway of his wife's residence had probable cause for the arrest, even if he made a mistake in interpreting the order as to the meaning of the word driveway as specified in the particular order at issue. This mistaken interpretation of the order did not forfeit the deputy's immunity for enforcing a court order, particularly when he contacted a dispatcher to attempt to get a clarification of the meaning of the order. James v. Adams County, Idaho, No. 06-35296, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 6562 (9th Cir.).
A township's general order told police to regard domestic violence scenes as criminal investigations, to make contact with all involved parties, and to impound and secure as evidence any weapons. In a lawsuit filed by a domestic violence arrestee, the court found that this order was not facially unconstitutional, and that no proof had been presented that officers had implemented that policy in a way that permitted unreasonable searches and seizures. The police, when they arrived at the scene, observed both a "bloody victim" and a third individual who was not either the victim or assailant, but who did not cooperate with their inquiries, but instead acted belligerently in response to their questions. The arrestee's criminal conviction was upheld on appeal, and the appeals court in the federal civil rights lawsuit upheld summary judgment for the defendants. Lawrence v. Bloomfield Township, No. 05-2511, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 5372 (6th Cir.).
Claims were properly asserted against municipality and its personnel for alleged failure to protect two victims of domestic violence from being murdered after receiving information of a man's alleged plan to engage in a murder for hire scheme. The man had engaged in a pattern of abuse, according to the plaintiffs, while living with a woman, who then obtained protective orders against him. Subsequently, the man's chiropractor allegedly contacted police and reported that the man had been asking if there was anyone who could be hired to kill the woman or "break her legs." The Complaint alleges that the failure to protect the woman and another family member who was also murdered at the same time violated the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, 750 ILCS 60/101 et seq. An intermediate Illinois appeals court found that the alleged willful and wanton failure to provide protection under the circumstances was adequate to survive a motion to dismiss, and that the provisions of a state Tort Immunity Act did not override the protections provided by the Domestic Violence Act. The court also ruled, however, that the second murder victim, who was not named in the protective order, was not a protected person under the statute, so that claims involving her death were properly dismissed. Lacey v. Village of Palatine, No. 1062842, 2008 Ill. App. Lexis 61 (Ill. App. 1st Dist.).
A woman who was shot and injured by her husband after obtaining a protective order against him under Texas law, established a factual issue as to whether police violated state law in failing to follow the provisions of a state domestic violence statute. The plaintiff, however, failed to provide evidence that the alleged failure to enforce the state law was motivated by discriminatory intent against women. Her allegation that officers threatened to take away her children if she kept calling to complain about her husband did not establish such discriminatory intent. The city, a police chief, and a police officer were therefore entitled to summary judgment. Kelley v. City of Wake Village, Texas, No. 07-40227, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 2441 (5th Cir.).
Officers were not entitled to qualified immunity on claims that they unlawfully entered a woman's home without consent or exigent circumstances while responding to a domestic disturbance call. At the time of their entry, the domestic dispute had allegedly been "neutralized" and there were no facts that would have caused the officers to believe that any one was in danger inside the home. The court also found that there was evidence from which a jury could find that an officer used excessive force in arresting the woman, causing her injuries at a time when she had not committed a crime and did not pose a threat to anyone. Campbell v. Clay, No. 07-13040, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 2928 (11th Cir.).
Spouse of a police officer who shot and injured her before shooting and killing himself did not show a violation of her substantive or procedural due process rights on the basis of the police department's failure to arrest him when she previously reported incidents of abuse after obtaining protective orders. The mere failure to act did not violate her rights or bring his assault on her within the bounds of a "state-created danger" theory of liability. The appeals court also rejected the spouse's equal protection claim, since there was no evidence from which a reasonable jury could find an unlawful custom or believe that a discriminatory motive was behind the failure to arrest the plaintiff's husband. There was no constitutional duty to protect the plaintiff from abuse by her spouse. Burella v. City of Philadelphia, No. 04-1157/2495, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 21924 (3rd Cir.).
Man arrested during a domestic disturbance did not assert a valid false arrest claim when a Connecticut statute required the officers to place persons suspected of family violence under arrest. The dismissal of charges against him in exchange for his agreement to attend counseling was not a favorable disposition in the arrestee's favor for purposes of a malicious prosecution claim. The arrestee could proceed, however, on his claims for excessive use of force and failure to provide needed medical attention. Clark v. Dowty, No. 3:05-cv-1345, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 49184 (D. Conn.).
Federal appeals court reinstates lawsuit by woman who claimed that when she tried to report her boyfriend's assault to deputies after she broke up with him, they would not allow her to file a complaint, and that they subsequently took her to a psychiatric center for commitment, which occurred because they lied about her actions. Her boyfriend was a town employee, and allegedly a personal friend of a number of the deputies. The appeals court found that the trial court improperly disregarded evidence which was sufficient to have allowed a jury to find that one or more of the deputies lied to get her committed, and that the plaintiff presented enough evidence that the deputies acted to have her committed in retaliation for her trying to file a complaint. Meyer v. Board of County Commissioners of Harper County, Oklahoma, No. 04-6106, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 8629 (10th Cir.).
Surviving family members of woman who was killed by her husband failed to show that officers should be held liable for failure to protect her. Mere promises of additional police patrols in the area did not constitute an enhancement of the danger to the decedent for purposes of the "state-created danger" doctrine. Brooks v. Knapp, No. 06-1352, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 5966 (6th Cir.).
Police officer had probable cause to arrest husband for allegedly striking his daughter above her eye, based on a report by his wife. Crosset v. Marquette, No. C-060148, 2007 Ohio App. Lexis 508 (1st Dist.).[N/R]
Police officers were entitled to qualified immunity for allegedly failing to prevent the murder of a son by his father, despite repeated calls to the police and the existence of a protective order, since the officers had discretion as to what actions to take in enforcing the protective order issued under Tennessee state law. Hudson v. Hudson, No. 05-6575, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 1705 (6th Cir.). [N/R]
Police officer was not liable to domestic violence victim for failing, while filling out paperwork to charge her ex-boyfriend with violation of a protective order, to check off box to keep her address confidential. The boyfriend, after his release from prison, allegedly subsequently obtained a copy of the paperwork containing her current address, and the victim accordingly feared that he would harm her, so she allegedly felt compelled to move to a new address. The plaintiff failed to show, as required for liability for violation of her right to privacy, that the officer acted with deliberate indifference to her rights. Hanigan v. City of Kent, Case No. C06-176, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 89489 (W.D. Wash.). [N/R]
Man arrested for domestic violence failed to show that law enforcement officers caused his bail to be set at an allegedly excessive amount of $1 million in violation of the Eighth Amendment. While the officers had engaged in a discussion of the need for a higher than average bail because of their belief that the arrestee could post the usual default amount, and because the alleged victim was in fear for her safety, the bail amount was ultimately set by a Bail Commissioner. While a federal appeals court disagreed with the trial court's conclusion that the $1 million was not excessive, it found that the plaintiff failed to produce evidence on the reason for the amount, failing to create a viable issue as to whether it was unconstitutionally enhanced. Galen v. County of Los Angeles, No. 04-55274, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 27465 (9th Cir.). [N/R]
New York high court rules that officers who allegedly failed to remove weapons from home when called to the scene of a domestic dispute were not liable for estranged husband's action, after they left, of shooting and injuring wife before killing himself with the same gun. Without a "special relationship" imposing a duty to provide protection, officers "cannot be expected to predict and prevent irrational behavior." Halpin v. Town of Lancaster, No. 167 SSM 26, 2006 N.Y. Lexis 2551. [2006 LR Nov]
Deputy sheriff was not liable for failing to arrest woman's boyfriend at her residence the night before he beat her to death. Even if he had suspected domestic abuse when summoned to the house, arrest in those circumstances was discretionary rather than mandatory under Kentucky state law, and, additionally, he observed no signs of violence or abuse. Howard v. Bayes, No. 05-5076, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 20378 (6th Cir.). [2006 LR Oct]
Several arrests of a police officer's wife, under valid arrest warrants, in connection with domestic disputes, did not violate her rights when the plaintiff failed to show that there were any false statements in the affidavits seeking the warrants. The failure of investigating officers to immediately arrest her husband when she stated that he had attacked her did not violate her due process rights. Investigating officer looked into both husband's and wife's versions of the incident, and two days later obtained arrest warrants for both of them. Zappone v. Town of Watertown, No. CIV. 3:99CV00944, 427 F. Supp. 2d 83 (D. Conn. 2006). [N/R]
Officers and county were not liable for responding to 911 call concerning woman's drunken estranged husband's visit to her sister's house, and failing to prevent him from shooting and killing his wife, shooting his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, and then killing himself. Nothing the officers did created or enhanced the danger. Tanner v. County of Lenawee, No. 05-1107, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 15566 (6th Cir.). ) [2006 LR Aug]
Enforcement by a city and county of a court "no-contact" order, entered against a man in a criminal proceeding for domestic assault, even though it prevented him from returning to his home, where he lived with the woman he was accused of assaulting, was not a "taking" of private property entitling him to compensation. The actions taken were carried out in enforcing a facially valid court order, and the defendants' employees could not make their own determination of the merits or enforceability of that order. Borlaug v. City of Cedar Falls, No. 05-6847, 710 N.W.2d 541 (Iowa App. 2006). [N/R]
Man's actions in taking photographs in front of the home of a person who had obtained a protective order against him provided officer with arguable probable cause to initiate a criminal prosecution against him for harassment in the second degree, entitling the officer to qualified immunity in a resulting malicious prosecution lawsuit. The arrestee's actions could have been viewed by a reasonable officer as constituting a threat of further violence. Jaegly v. Couch, No. 05-2191, 168 Fed. Appx. 480 (2nd Cir. 2006). [N/R]
Man arrested in domestic violence matter failed to show that any possible violation of his right to equal protection was based on a county policy of discrimination against males in such circumstances, so that he could not pursue his claims against the county. Arresting officers were entitled to qualified immunity on arrestee's claim that they violated his Second Amendment rights by seizing his guns during a search of his residence, since there was no clearly established individual Second Amendment constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Bloomquist v. Albee, No. Civ. 03-276, 421 F. Supp. 2d 162 (D. Me. 2006). [N/R]
Husband, involved in divorce proceedings with his wife, did not show that police officer violated his right to equal protection, as a member of a class of persons involved in domestic disputes, by refusing to treat his complaint that his wife had stolen his personal property the same as a similar complaint by other persons. The officer was entitled to qualified immunity, since the alleged right violated was not clearly established in 1999. The officer could also reasonably believe in the lawfulness of his refusal to further investigate the husband's complaint, to arrest the wife, or to search her home for pieces of a silverware set, when the silverware was not on a list of items that the husband could remove from the home which had been approved in the divorce proceeding. Fedor v. Kudrak, No. 3:02 CV 1489, 421 F. Supp. 2d 473 (D. Conn. 2006). [N/R]
Illinois Supreme Court rules that police officers who allegedly failed to assist domestic violence victim in response to 911 call were not entitled to absolute immunity under state law on a claim that their inaction was willful and wanton conduct which caused her death when her husband subsequently shot her. More specific limited immunity provision of domestic violence statute applied instead, with an exception for willful and wanton conduct. Moore v. Green, No. 100029, 2006 Ill. Lexis 613. [2006 LR Jun]
County sheriff and other law enforcement officials were not liable for failing to protect woman from being murdered by her estranged husband based on their alleged failure to take adequate measures in response to her report that he had assaulted and raped her two weeks before. There was no indication that the decedent had justifiably relied on any affirmative promises by the defendants to provide protection or take particular action, and therefore no "special relationship" between the defendants and the decedent sufficient to support the imposition of liability. Kromer v. County of Onondaga, 809 N.Y.S.2d 723 (A.D. 4th Dept. 2006). [N/R]
County and officer were not liable for woman's murder by her boyfriend, based on officer's dispatch to her residence following 911 calls, and decision to leave when he failed to hear any indications of a dispute inside. These actions neither created nor increased the danger that the woman would be killed, so there could be no liability under a "state-created danger" theory. May v. Franklin County Comm'rs, No. 05-3188, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 3528 (6th Cir.). [2006 LR Apr]
Police officers reporting to the scene of a domestic dispute did not have an affirmative duty to remove weapons from the home, and therefore could not be liable for the husband's subsequent action of shooting his wife before killing himself. Halpin v. Town of Lancaster, 806 N.Y.S.2d 810 (A.D. 4th Dept. 2005). [N/R]
Police officers who encountered an intoxicated man who threatened his wife, disabled her car, and refused to cooperate with being arrested and handcuffed did not act unreasonably in using physical force and mace to subdue him. They could reasonably believe, under the circumstances, that he posed a threat to his wife, children, others present, and themselves. Wilson v. Flynn, No. 04-2491, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 24555 (4th Cir.). [2006 LR Jan]
Police officer who stood outside residence while an estranged husband removed property when his wife was absent did not violate the Fourth Amendment. He had no reason to know that the husband would either remove property that was not his or vandalize the wife's property. Pepper v. Village of Oak Park, No. 04-3948, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 26050 (7th Cir.). [2006 LR Jan]
Law enforcement agencies were not liable for the deaths of a mother and son shot and killed by their estranged husband and father, whose gun, previously taken away when officers responded to a domestic violence call, was subsequently returned to him and then used to shoot them. First, the estranged husband/father had access to another gun in any event, and secondly, the murder victims had no constitutionally protected property interest, protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, to enforcement of a domestic violence protective order entered under Pennsylvania law. Starr v. Price, No. 3:03 CV 636, 385 F. Supp. 2d 502 (M.D. Pa. 2005). [N/R]
A Mississippi state statute providing immunity for officers who take reasonable measures to prevent domestic violence did not apply to an officer who allegedly first handcuffed an arrestee during a domestic violence call and then ground the arrestee's face into the concrete floor in reckless disregard of the arrestee's safety. City of Jackson v. Calcote, No. 2003-CA-01318-COA, 910 So. 2d 1103 (Miss. App. 2005). [N/R]
Police officer acted reasonably in shooting a man who had barricaded himself in his bedroom armed with a number of guns after officers came to his house in response to a domestic disturbance call, and who threatened to shoot officers if they attempted to remove him from the home. Just prior to the officer shooting him, the suspect had raised a window and announced that he now had a "clean shot." Phillips v. James, No. 03-4272, 422 F.3d 1075 (10th Cir. 2005). [2005 LR Dec]
Father of children was not deprived of equal protection of law, nor were his due process rights as a parent violated when police officers and prosecutors failed to find probable cause to arrest his child's biological mother for kidnapping, but prosecuted him for alleged domestic violence. There was no evidence that the defendants were motivated by gender bias. Burrell v. Anderson, No. CIV.04-43, 353 F. Supp. 2d 55 (D. Me. 2005). [N/R]
County was not liable to domestic violence arrestee on his claim that his rights were violated by conditioning his release on bail on his attending a domestic violence program which was also utilized as part of the sentence for others convicted for the same offense. The plaintiff failed to show that this was imposed as a condition of his release on bail pursuant to an official county policy or custom. The arrestee, who was a black man who had been dating a white woman, also failed to show that there was a county policy of treating black men who date white women differently than others accused of domestic violence when it came to setting the conditions of their bail. In fact, the court ruled, the county did not make or control the making of bail decisions, which was solely within the powers of the county court. McLaurin v. New Rochelle Police Officers, No. 03-CIV-10037, 368 F. Supp. 289 (S.D.N.Y. 2005). [N/R]
D.C.'s failure to discipline a police officer for allegedly improperly assaulting and arresting her brother-in-law was not an adequate basis for a federal civil rights claim against the municipality for inadequate supervision. The officer's conduct was investigated, her police powers were suspended during the investigation, and the officer was then provided with counseling about being involved in domestic disputes, which showed that the District was not deliberately indifferent to any existing problem. McRae v. Olive, No. CIV.A 03-00696, 368 F. Supp. 2d 91 (D.D.C. 2005). [N/R]
Deputy sheriff was not liable for failing to arrest man allegedly suspected of fighting with his girlfriend, who subsequently murdered her, since the duties imposed on him under a Kentucky domestic violence statute were discretionary. Plaintiffs also failed to show that the deputy had "created" or enhanced the danger to the girlfriend for purposes of the "state-created-danger" doctrine. Howard v. Bayes, No. CIV.A. 7:02-204, 378 F. Supp. 2d 753 (E.D. Ky. 2005). [N/R]
Man arrested during officers' response to domestic violence call failed to show that excessive force was used against him. While officers allegedly hit him about the neck, shoulders, and wrist with their nightsticks and wrestled him to the ground, the arrestee refused to cooperate with the officers, fought with them, disarmed one of them, and grabbed a second officer by the groin. Under these circumstances, the amount of force used by the officers was not objectively unreasonable. Plaintiff arrestee also failed to establish, as he claimed, that the city had a "widespread practice" of abusing "men of color" who dated white women. McLaurin v. New Rochelle Police Officers, #03 CIV. 10037, 373 F. Supp. 2d 385 (S.D.N.Y. 2005). [N/R]
Man arrested in domestic violence investigation failed to show that his right to equal protection of law was violated by the failure of the county and its prosecutor to investigate his complaint against his ex-wife in the same manner as they investigated her complaint against him. Staley v. Grady, No. 03CIV.7949, 371 F. Supp. 2d 411 (S.D.N.Y. 2005). [N/R]
U.S. Supreme Court rejects claim that woman granted a restraining order against her estranged husband had a constitutionally protected due process property interest in having police enforce it. Plaintiff alleged that the failure of police to do so resulted in the murder of her three minor daughters by her husband while violating the order. Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales, No. 04-278, 2005 U.S. Lexis 5214. [2005 LR Aug]
The Illinois Domestic Violence Act, 750 ILCS 60/305, which waived liability against municipalities for officers' willful and wanton misconduct, rather than the absolute immunity allegedly provided to officers under the Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/4-102, applied to a lawsuit brought by the estate of a domestic abuse victim seeking damages for wrongful death against officers who allegedly failed to adequately investigate a 911 call reporting domestic violence and left the scene of the disturbance only minutes before the husband shot the wife to death. Moore v. Green, #1-03-2651, 822 N.E.2d 69 (Ill. App. 1st Dist. 2004). [N/R]
County and deputy sheriff to whom a deputy surrendered his weapon under the terms of an order of protection obtained by his wife were not liable for his subsequent killing of his wife with another weapon he allegedly stole from a weapons locker. The Defendants did not have any special relationship with the wife imposing a duty to protect her under New York state law. Farley v. County of Erie, 791 N.Y.S.2d 251 (A.D. 4th Dept. 2005). [N/R]
Federal appeals court rejects claim that police officers violated a man's rights to equal protection by failing to arrest his former boyfriend, a member of the City Council, following an alleged domestic disturbance at their home. Lunini v. Grayeb, No. 04-1822, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 885 (7th Cir.). [2005 LR Mar]
Arrestee's release of city and officers from civil liability in exchange for dismissal of criminal charges of domestic violence against her was fully enforceable. Alabama statute prohibiting the crime of "compounding," punishing agreements offering something of value in exchange for not seeking prosecution of a crime, did not apply to city attorney's offer of release agreement. Penn v. City of Montgomery, No. 03-14207, 381 F.3d 1059 (11th Cir. 2004). [2004 LR Dec]
Officer was entitled to qualified immunity for shooting and killing a husband struggling on the floor with another officer summoned to the home because of a domestic dispute. Parks v. Pomeroy, No. 03-2043 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 23262 (8th Cir.2004). [2004 LR Dec]
Employer whose drug intoxicated employee shot a police officer responding to a domestic dispute he was having with his wife was properly held liable for $800,000 in compensatory and $500,000 in punitive damages. Evidence showed that supervisors were aware of, and even encouraged, work crew to use drugs to stay "alert" and awake while repairing railroad tracks. Loram Maintenance of Way, Inc. v. Ianni, No. 08-02-00049-CV, 141 S.W.3d 722 (Tex. App. 2004). [2004 LR Dec]
Woman's estate could pursue a negligence claim under Connecticut law against town and police officers for allegedly failing to protect her and her unborn fetus from being fatally shot by her estranged boyfriend, who was the father. Court rules that the defendants did not have tort immunity because the decedents were identifiable persons facing imminent harm. It was alleged that the officers knew of two prior assaults and a kidnapping that the boyfriend had perpetrated against the woman, and that the woman had expressed fear for her life. Florence v. Town of Plainfield, No. CV-03 00695808, 849 A.2d 7 (Conn. Super. 2004). [N/R]
Woman arrested for alleged violation of a domestic violence protective order that she claimed she had not yet been served with could not pursue federal civil rights claim against town when there was no assertion that any official municipal policy had caused the arrest. The mere fact that the magistrate who issued the warrant for her arrest, and the sheriff who supervised the office which allegedly failed to serve her with the protective order were both municipal employees did not alter the result. Cole v. Summey, 329 F. Supp. 2d 391 (M.D.N.C. 2004). [N/R]
City could not be held liable for death of wife shot and killed by her estranged husband while she attempted to retrieve her belongings from their residence while accompanied by police officers. Officers had no constitutional duty to protect the wife against violence by the husband and their presence in the home did not increase or create the danger to her from him. Simmons v. City of Inkster, #03-72318, 323 F. Supp. 2d 812 (E.D. Mich. 2004). [2004 LR Oct]
Even if employees of the county sheriff's officers were negligent in failing to arrest a husband before he shot and wounded his wife, the department was immune from a lawsuit under Mississippi state law under a statute, A.M.C. Sec. 11-46-9(1)(c) providing that a government entity is not liable for any claim in the absence of conduct by an employee acting in "reckless disregard" of the safety of others. The wife had previously signed a criminal affidavit against her husband for domestic violence, and a judge signed a warrant for his arrest, but this was allegedly never delivered to the county sheriff's department prior to the shooting incident. Collins v. Tallahatchie County, No. 2003-CA-01377-SCT, 876 So. 2d 284 (Miss. 2004). [N/R]
Domestic violence arrestee whose bail was increased from $50,000 (listed in the county's felony bail schedule) to $1 million based on a request from a deputy sheriff was not entitled to damages on his claim that this constituted unconstitutionally excessive bail. First, the bail was not unconstitutionally excessive in violation of the Eighth Amendment, in light of the injuries the arrestee's alleged victim had suffered. Second, the deputy, and his supervisor, who approved the request, were entitled to qualified immunity as there was no clearly established violation of constitutional rights, and they could reasonably have believed both that there was a risk of flight by the arrestee and that he posed a danger to his alleged victim. None of the information they provided to the judicial officer who made the decision to increase the bail was false. Galen v. County of Los Angeles, 322 F. Supp. 2d 1045 (C.D. Cal. 2004). [N/R]
Wife who was attacked and injured by her husband when he escaped from the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service after allegedly violating a domestic violence order of protection could not pursue her lawsuit against the Marshals Service and U.S. government when she failed to exhaust available administrative remedies under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1346, 2671 et seq. She also could not pursue federal civil rights claims against federal officials under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 in the absence of any allegation that they acted under color of state law. Cureton v. U.S. Marshal Service, 322 F. Supp. 2d 23 (D.D.C. 2004). [N/R]
Despite a man's acquittal on a charge of murdering his spouse, his conviction on charges of domestic violence arising out of the same facts showed that there was probable cause for his arrest and prosecution, barring his claim for malicious prosecution. Garrett v. Fisher Titus Hospital, 318 F. Supp. 2d 562 (N.D. Ohio 2004). [N/R]
Federal appeals court, in case where estranged husband took and murdered his three minor daughters, in violation of domestic protection order, rules that such an order, when enforcement is required by a state statute, creates a property interest protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Claims against city for failing to enforce order are reinstated, but individual officers were entitled to qualified immunity. Gonzales v. Castle Rock, #01-1053, 366 F.3d 1093 (10th Cir. en banc, 2004). [2004 LR Sep]
Officers had probable cause to arrest a man's fiancee for violating a California state statute against the willful infliction of "corporal injury" on a cohabitant, even if she lacked any intention to injure him. Both the man and his fiancee admitted to the officers that she had punctured his ear when trying to restrain him by grabbing his arm and the officers also observed both the blood on the fiancee's shirt and the puncture wound on the man's ear. Estrada v. County of Los Angeles, No. 02-56742, 91 Fed. Appx. 28 (9th Cir. 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]
Officers responding to domestic disturbance report had probable cause to arrest man for violation of New Jersey state firearms laws when they found that he possessed a handgun, that the gun was licensed in another state, and that he was a resident of another state. Bowser v. Borough of Freehold, #03-3386, 99 Fed. Appx. 401 (3rd Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Montana Supreme Court reinstates $358,000 award against county sheriff for allegedly failing to protect woman against fatal shooting by her husband. Sheriff had a duty to protect the wife on the basis of a special relationship created by a Montana state statute requiring him to provide a notice of rights and information on community resources to domestic violence victims, and he allegedly failed to provide such notices or information during a three year period of responding to domestic violence calls at the couple's residence. Massee v. Thompson, #03-567, 90 P.3d 394 (Mont. 2004). [2004 LR Aug]
Police officer's conduct in allegedly refusing to provide a man protection against his ex-girlfriend, a fellow police officer, following purported threats of physical violence, was "reprehensible" enough to support an award of punitive damages, but court finds $200,000 jury award of punitive damages excessive, ordering it reduced to $25,000, while upholding $2,000 award of compensatory damages. Plaintiff would be granted a new trial limited solely to the issue of punitive damages if he rejected the reduction. Stack v. Jaffee, 306 F. Supp. 2d 137 (D. Conn. 2003). [N/R]
Police officers who took away a woman's gun while investigating a domestic dispute, but later returned it to her when they thought things were "under control" were not liable to boyfriend she allegedly shot with the weapon a month later. Court rejects the argument that the return of the weapon "created" the danger that he would be shot. The shooting was too remote in time to have been caused by the officers' actions, and their conduct placed him in "no worse" a position than he would have been in had they not gotten involved to begin with. Green v. City of Philadelphia, No. 03-2368, 92 Fed. Appx. 873 (3rd Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Police officers did not violate the rights of a male homosexual co-habitant of a city councilman by requiring him to leave the residence under threat of arrest, following the councilman's 911 domestic violence call, despite the fact that he claimed to own the house and claimed that the officers also had probable cause to arrest the councilman. The councilman had a bloody lip at the time, and the co-habitant appeared to be in the process of packing up his possessions to move out. Since the officers needed to separate the two men, it was logical for them to ask the co-habitant to leave. Court also finds that the mere fact that the officers "laughed and made silly faces" when told that the two men were ending a relationship did not show that they engaged in discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Lunini v. Grayer, 305 F. Supp. 2d 893 (C.D. Ill. 2004). [N/R]
Deputy sheriffs were entitled to qualified immunity for examining ex-husband's personal property as he was packing to leave the home after they served him with a temporary order of protection obtained by his ex-wife. They acted objectively reasonably in seeking to make sure that he was not concealing a weapon or some other "instrumentality" that could have presented a danger to persons present. Rosen v. County of Suffolk, N.Y., 305 F. Supp. 2d 239 (E.D.N.Y. 2004). [N/R]
Officers had probable cause to arrest husband for violating court order of protection based on wife's statements, which they had no reason to doubt the veracity of. Coyle v. Coyle, 302 F. Supp. 2d 3 (E.D.N.Y. 2004). [N/R]
City was not liable, under Florida law, for man's shooting of his wife, despite alleged negligent failure of officer to follow-up on promise to "talk" to the shooter about his alleged threat to her. Officer's failure to act was not the cause of the injuries, and no special relationship existed which would waive governmental immunity for the officer's conduct. City of Ocala v. Graham, No.5D02-3208, 864 So. 2d 473 (Fla. App. Dist. 5 2004). [2004 LR May]
911 operator was not liable for man's murder of his wife and daughter based on classification of call by daughter as a family violence situation rather than a child injury in progress call. No violation of equal protection or due process was shown, and operator was entitled to qualified immunity. Beltran v. Amador, No. 03-50427, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 7234 (5th Cir. 2004). [2004 LR May]
There was no probable cause to arrest a husband for violation of a domestic protection order for attending church services at the same church his wife attended, since that was not prohibited by the order. Officer who did not read the order or otherwise attempt to ascertain its contents was not entitled to qualified immunity. Beier v. Lewiston, #02-35516, 354 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2004). [2004 LR Apr]
Factual issues concerning whether officer's search of man's residence, yard, and barn in an effort to locate a woman purportedly involved in a domestic dispute with him was justified by exigent circumstances or the plaintiff's consent barred summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity in the man's civil rights lawsuit. Colao v. Mills, 770 N.Y.S.2d 474 (A.D. 3d Dept. 2004). [N/R]
Nebraska Supreme Court overturns $300,000 award to woman assaulted in her home by a former boyfriend while he was on probation. No special relationship existed between crime victim and the state which gave rise to any specific duty to protect her from her former boyfriend. Bartunek v. State, No. S-02-710, 666 N.W.2d 435 (Neb. 2003). [N/R]
Officers had probable cause to arrest husband for harassing his wife, even though both husband and wife told the officers that a scratch on the wife was caused "unintentionally." Evidence that he had taken something from his wife's hands in a manner that caused injury was enough for the officers to make an inference that he had an intent to harass or scare her, and officers, knowing that the husband had been making threats, did not believe the wife's statements. Shortz v. City of Montgomery, 267 F. Supp. 2d 1124 (M.D. Ala. 2003). [N/R]
Deputy's observation of woman's injuries and receipt of her sworn statement accusing her boyfriend of assault were sufficient to provide probable cause for an arrest of her boyfriend, despite any factual dispute about the woman's credibility. Probable cause for the arrest precluded claims for both false arrest and malicious prosecution. Thomas v. County of Putnam, 262 F. Supp. 2d 241 (S.D.N.Y. 2003). [N/R]
Police officers had exigent circumstances justifying a warrantless entry into the home of a 911 caller and her fiance when the dispatcher labeled the call as involving a "cutting or stabbing," and the fiance answered the door with blood on his legs and boxer shorts, and the caller was not then visible. Alleged handcuffing of caller for one minute while officers inspected her bruises was not proven, and plaintiff could not identify which officer purportedly did so. Probable cause existed for arrest of fiance for domestic violence based on bruises on woman caller. Thacker v. City of Columbus, No. 01-4097, 328 F.3d 244 (6th Cir. 2003). [2003 LR Oct]
Police officer's alleged romantic involvement with victim did not alter a valid restraining order supported by probable cause into "one that was not," and he was entitled to qualified immunity for enforcing the order against the plaintiff after the woman who obtained the order called police about the plaintiff's alleged violation of it. Deen v. Corning City, No. 01-16705, 66 Fed. Appx. 675 (9th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
Georgia Supreme Court holds that, under state law, a parent of an adult child murdered by his surviving spouse can pursue a wrongful death claim against the alleged murderer or against "other parties" that proximately caused the death, answering a question certified to it by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in a case where the murdered son's mother asserted state wrongful death claims against the wife, a police chief, and the city. The claims against the city and police chief were based on the fact that the alleged murderer was a police captain who had previously attempted suicide. The police chief had ordered her to remove all weapons from her home, but did not relieve her of her duties, and she used her service revolver to shoot and kill her husband. Carringer v. Rodgers, No. SO2Q1483, 578 S.E.2d 841 (Ga. 2003). [N/R]
A female former police officer failed to establish a claim for violation of her equal protection rights when there was no evidence of this other than her "conclusory allegation" that her arrest for disorderly conduct following a fight with her husband, combined with the failure to arrest her husband showed differing treatment due to gender. Additionally, arguable probable cause existed to arrest her and her arrest was carried out under an arrest warrant. Zandhri v. Dortenzio, 228 F. Supp. 2d 167 (D. Conn. 2002). [N/R]
Wife awarded $30,000 against Tennessee county for failing to protect her against her estranged husband who allegedly burned her home when deputies failed to arrest him for violating a protection order while divorce proceedings were pending. Tennessee statute waiving governmental immunity for county, however, barred the additional award, by the trial court, of $130,000 in damages against two deputy sheriff's. Matthews v. Pickett County, Tennessee, No. 00-6644, 46 Fed. Appx. 261 (6th Cir. 2002). [2003 LR Feb.]
City and police officials were not liable for officer's action of taking his former wife and others hostage. Officer's actions were not foreseeable and ex-wife's domestic violence complaints against officer were "unspecific" and spread over time. One instance of ignoring a domestic violence complaint, negligently overlooked because of a heavy workload, did not show a policy or practice of ignoring such complaints against police officers. Hansell v. City of Atlantic City, No. 01-2908, 46 Fed. Appx. 665 (3rd Cir. 2002). [2003 LR Jan]
City and officers did not "create" the danger to three children who were murdered by their father by failing to enforce a restraining order against him after he abducted them, and therefore did not violate their substantive due process constitutional rights. Plaintiff mother did, however, assert a valid possible claim for violation of procedural due process based on Colorado state statute requiring reasonable efforts to enforce restraining orders. Gonzales v. City of Castle Rock, No. 01-1053, 307 F.3d 12258 (10th Cir. 2002). [2003 LR Jan]
Untimely processing of paperwork at prosecutor's office which should have led to the arrest of the complainant's former boyfriend was not a denial of the complainant's due process right of access to the courts and did not violate her right to equal protection. Court rejects argument that liability could be based on prosecutor's alleged failure to train her staff to give the same priority to domestic violence complaints from unmarried complainants as complaints involving married complainants. No liability for subsequent shooting of woman by former boyfriend. Thomas v. City of Mount Vernon, 215 F. Supp. 2d 329 (S.D.N.Y. 2002). [N/R]
County and police department were not liable for alleged failure to protect a woman against continued domestic violence by a man who had previously been arrested on three separate occasions for abusing her. Plaintiff did not show that the defendants placed her in any greater danger or that there was any policy of inadequate training on domestic violence. O'Brien v. Maui County, #00-16571, 37 Fed. Appx. 269 (9th Cir. 2002). [2002 LR Nov]
County and sheriff's department was not liable for ex-husband's shooting of his ex-wife on the basis of the alleged failure to serve him with a domestic violence order of protection. State statute creating a duty to serve such orders in a timely manner did not create a federal claim for violation of civil rights for alleged failure to do so. Jones v. Union County, Tennessee, #01-5149, 296 F.3d 417 (6th Cir. 2002). [2002 LR Nov]
A father's murder of his infant daughter was "too remote" from a sergeant's actions in responding to the mother's call reporting domestic violence four days earlier to support a claim by the mother for deprivation of her constitutional rights. Sheets v. Mullins, #00-4162, 287 F.3d 581 (6th Cir. 2002). [2002 LR Oct]
California Supreme Court rules that county and sheriff's department were not liable for negligence for failing to protect a woman from being fatally shot by her ex-husband at a courthouse. The defendants did not increase the risk of harm to the decedent, and the posting of signs "warning" persons of the alleged lack of security at the courthouse would have discouraged litigants from resorting to the courts. Those entering courthouse were, in any event, aware that persons entering were not screened for weapons. Zelig v. County of Los Angeles, #S081791, 119 Cal. Rptr. 2d 709, 45 P.3d 1171 (Cal. 2002). [2002 LR Aug]
Officers had probable cause for arresting husband for criminal contempt and harassment based on wife's written complaint accusing him of violations of a protective order preventing him from being within 1000 feet of her. Officers had no reason to doubt the wife's claim that he had in person threatened to kill her and burn her house down, and one of the officers indicated that he conducted a personal investigation. Fulton v. Robinson, #00-9547, 289 F.3d 188 (2nd Cir. 2002). [2002 LR Aug]
Sufficient exigent circumstances existed for officer to make a warrantless entry into a home to make an arrest when he was called to the home to investigate a possible domestic dispute, noticed clothing strewn about the street in front of the residence, and was approached by a woman with an arm that appeared disfigured who told him that the man inside the house had broken her arm. Walker v. West Caln Township, 170 F. Supp. 2d 522 (E.D. Pa. 2001). [N/R]
Officers had probable cause, under Michigan law, to arrest a husband for domestic assault when they encountered his visibly upset wife, whose finger was bleeding and stated to them that she had told a 911 operator that he had been pushing and grabbing her and the children and had cut her finger in the course of physically taking the phone from her hand. Klein v. Long, #00-2235, 275 F.3d 544 (6th Cir. 2001). [N/R]
Officers had probable cause to arrest woman in responding to domestic violence call, despite her contention that her boyfriend had hit her and then called the police before she could. Eckert v. Town of Silverthorne, #00-1030, 258 F.3d 1147 (10th Cir. 2001). [2002 LR Feb]
Police department was not liable for officer's actions in going to his ex-wife's residence, while on vacation and intoxicated, shooting into the house, and then taking ex-wife's new husband and his own children hostage. Plaintiffs did not show that there was a city policy of ignoring complaints concerning domestic violence by officers. Hansell v. City of Atlantic City, Civ. A. No. 96-CV-5957, 152 F. Supp. 2d 589 (D.N.J. 2001). [2002 LR Jan]
South Carolina domestic violence statute did not impose a duty on the sheriff's department to provide protection to specific domestic violence victims. Court rejects claim that wife shot and killed by her husband was used a "bait" to capture her husband. Arthurs v. Aiken County, No. 25331, 551 S.E.2d 579 (S.C. 2001). [2002 LR Jan]
341:76 UPDATE: $26 million award against city for failure to protect woman against alleged murder plot by killers hired by her boyfriend overturned; no city policy alleged increased the danger to her, at most it left her in the same danger she was already in. Piotrowski v. City of Houston, No. 98-21032, 237 F.3d 567 (5th Cir. 2001), rehearing & rehearing en banc denied, 251 F.3d 729 (5th Cir. 2001).
337:5 Family of woman killed by her estranged husband could assert a claim for violation of equal protection based on alleged failure to provide police protection because of gender, regardless of whether they could show that this failure helped cause the murder or indeed caused any actual harm at all; nominal damages could still be awarded if a constitutional violation without actual harm was proven. Macias, Estate of, v. Ihde, #99-15662, 219 F.3d 1018 (9th Cir. 2000).
339:40 Federal appeals court sets forth legal test for an equal protection claim based on unequal protection given to victims of domestic violence, while holding that sheriffs and deputies were entitled to qualified immunity from liability for failure to prevent husband's abduction, rape, and shooting of his estranged wife, since the law was not previously "clearly established" on the subject; possible alternate ground for liability, however, might be based on ill-will towards victim as a "class of one." Shipp v. McMahon, #98-31317, 234 F.3d 907 (5th Cir. 2000).
335:168 Police officers who forcibly broke down the door to a man's apartment without a warrant and entered to arrest him for domestic battery were entitled to qualified immunity; even though the facts did not adequately indicate the existence of exigent circumstances justifying a warrantless entry, they could reasonably have thought it did, based on a 911 call by a woman in the apartment which was twice disconnected. Sanders v. Marovich, 102 F.Supp. 2d 926 (N.D. Ill. 2000).
326:24 Officer did not violate clearly established rights of husband by insisting, correctly, on estranged wife's right, under Florida law, to assistance in entering jointly owned home, from which she had been excluded by husband, in order to recover medications and other personal items. Montague v. Cooley, 735 So. 2d 511 (Fla. App. 1999).
326:26 Detective exercised his discretion by deciding not to pursue investigation of alleged domestic violence until the following morning; city was not liable for facially neutral domestic violence policy when it could not be shown that woman, shot and killed by her ex-husband, had been treated differently than male victims of domestic violence. Williams v. City of Montgomery, Alabama, 48 F.Supp. 2d 1317 (M.D. Ala. 1999).
327:37 Officer who left the scene after helping man retrieve his radio from ex-girlfriend's auto was not liable for subsequent alleged assault man committed on ex- girlfriend; no liability for inadequate training in absence of a showing of deliberate indifference. Soltis v. Kotenski, 63 F.Supp. 2d 187 (D. Conn. 1999).
323:173 California appeals court rules that governmental immunity did not apply to failure to provide metal detectors in courthouse; surviving family of woman killed by her ex-husband in courthouse lobby could possibly sue county for failure to protect her against foreseeable risk of violence. Zelig v. County of Los Angeles, 86 Cal.Rptr.2d 693 (Cal. App. 1999).
323:166 County could be liable for burning down of woman's house after officers failed to arrest her ex- husband who had allegedly just threatened to kill her in violation of a court order of protection; Tennessee Supreme Court finds that such orders impose a special duty to provide protection if relied upon, and that duty extends to protecting property. Matthews v. Pickett County, 996 S.W.2d 162 (Tenn. 1999).
323:165 Police officers and city could be liable for violation of equal protection for failing to take immediate action at residence to which officers were summoned because of domestic disturbance; officers allegedly waited forty minutes before making forced entry into home, during which time husband allegedly fatally stabbed wife. Didzerekis v. Stewart, 41 F.Supp. 2d 840 (N.D. Ill. 1999).
320:119 Officers were not entitled to qualified immunity for failure to make forced entry into woman's apartment after she made 9-1-1 call reporting her husband's attempt to murder her. Didzerekis v. Stewart, 41 F.Supp. 2d 840 (N.D. Ill. 1999).
320:118 Federal appeals court rules that giving domestic violence 9-1-1 calls lower priority than other 9-1-1 calls may constitute an equal protection claim; finds that trial court did not adequately explore whether such a policy existed or whether it was rationally based. Fajardo v. County of Los Angeles, #96-55699, 179 F.3d 698 (9th Cir. 1999).
309:133 Officer did not violate "clearly established" rights of ex-husband when ordering him to leave ex-wife's apartment under threat of arrest when ex-wife was only name on lease and she accused him of serious physical abuse; officer was entitled to qualified immunity despite fact that ex-husband lived there and ex-wife had not informed him that his name would not be on new lease she entered into. Miller v. Compton, 122 F.3d 1094 (8th Cir. 1997).
308:125 Police chief's alleged failure to investigate minor females' charges that their father sexually abused them did not lead to federal civil rights liability, in absence
of proof that he took this action with intent to discriminate against them as females, minors, or victims of domestic abuse. Hayden v. Grayson, 134 F.3d 449 (1st Cir. 1998).
290:28 Michigan Supreme Court rules that police officer who arrived on scene of domestic disturbance in response to neighbors' 911 phone calls, but allegedly did not attempt to contact woman who neighbors stated had been attacked by her husband, was not liable for woman's death three hours later; no special relationship, imposing a duty of protection, existed between decedent and officer, as there was no direct contact between them White v. Beasley, 552 NW2d 1 (Mich 1996).
296:116 Officers not liable for failure to arrest woman's husband for domestic abuse and his subsequent murder of her two children; even if officer's statement to husband revealing that wife had complained about him put the children in increased danger, there was no "clearly established" constitutional right violated, entitling officer to qualified immunity; appeals court also finds insufficient evidence of intentional gender discrimination to support equal protection claim Soto v. Flores, 103 F.3d 1056 (1st Cir. 1997).
298:152 Officers were entitled to qualified immunity from liability on woman's claim that they were responsible for her ex- boyfriend's assault because they informed him two months earlier that her parking lot was under surveillance, thereby allegedly allowing him to avoid possible earlier arrest for vandalizing her auto and enhancing risk he would assault her Cook v. City of Groton, 952 F.Supp. 101 (D.Conn 1997).
277:6 Police officer and Police Superintendent were not liable for husband's murder of his two children after his wife went to police station to report that he had assaulted her; failure to arrest husband did not cause children's murder and evidence was insufficient to show a policy of denying protection to female victims of domestic violence Soto v. Carrasquillo, 878 F.Supp. 324 (D.Puerto Rico 1995).
279:37 City had a "special relationship" with female police officer ultimately shot and killed by her police officer husband after he repeatedly threatened to kill her, violated orders of protection, and she complained of these incidents to supervisory officials in the police department Sadrud-Din v. City of Chicago, 883 F.Supp. 270 (N.D.Ill. 1995). [Cross-reference: Governmental Liability: Policy/Custom]
281:72 County denied summary judgment on claim that its policy for handling complaints of domestic violence by its deputies was different from policy stated in sheriff's department manual; suit against county based on deputy's shooting and killing of his ex-wife to proceed; "conspiracy" claim dismissed, however Rideau v. Jefferson County, 899 F.Supp. 298 (E.D. Tex. 1995).
282:89 County could be sued for violation of equal protection for allegedly failing to provide adequate response to complaints by woman and her 12-year-old daughter of domestic violence; 12-year-old daughter had "domestic" relationship with 16-year-old boyfriend who sometimes slept in her bed at home and subsequently killed her; individual officers, however, were entitled to qualified immunity because of lack of "clearly established" case law concerning equal protection claims of domestic violence victims Hakken v. Washtenaw County, 901 F.Supp. 1245 (E.D. Mich 1995). [Cross-reference: Defenses: Qualified (Good-Faith). Immunity]
284:117 Federal appeals court rules that evidence that 911 dispatchers treated domestic violence calls differently from other calls could be sufficient to show a county policy or custom regarding domestic violence which violated the right to equal protection of law; court reinstates lawsuit over estranged husband killing wife and four others after she made a 911 call which did not result in dispatch of police vehicle Navarro v. Block, 72 F.3d 712 (9th Cir. 1995). [Cross-reference: Governmental Liability: Policy/ Custom]
285:135 Update: Federal appeals court, rehearing case en banc, rules that officer was entitled to qualified immunity in case where he allegedly assured woman that her ex-boyfriend would remain in custody overnight, but then charged ex-boyfriend with minor charges resulting in his immediate release and return to home to set fire that killed her three children; right to protection in these circumstances was not "clearly established" Pinder v. Johnson, 54 F.3d 1169 (4th Cir. 1995). [Cross- reference: Defenses: Qualified (Good-Faith). Immunity]
286:151 Officer was entitled to qualified immunity for failing to gather evidence or aggressively investigate case in which woman stated she was held captive by estranged boyfriend for two days and repeatedly raped and physically abused; no "clearly established" law gave woman constitutional right to "quality investigation" of incident or to have officer "investigate a domestic assault as aggressively" as they might any other type of assault Lawson v. Garcia, 912 P.2d 1136 (Wyo 1996). [Cross-reference: Defenses: Qualified (Good-Faith). Immunity]
266:22 Estate of woman killed by her husband after she had reported husband's abusive acts to police five times can sue city on allegation that it had a policy of treating domestic violence assaults differently than other assaults Cellini v. City of Sterling Heights, 856 F.Supp. 1215 (E.D. Mich 1994).
267:39 Officers' failure to previously arrest husband for reported acts of harassment did not cause his later kidnapping and rape of estranged wife and murder of her mother; federal appeals court also rules that statistics showing that fewer arrests were made in domestic abuse cases than non-domestic cases did not establish an equal protection violation based on gender discrimination Ricketts v. City of Columbia, Missouri, 36 F.3d 775 (8th Cir. 1994).
268:59 Allegation that officer declined to break into apartment to rescue minor girl from intruder who was raping her, despite her mother's pleas to do so, because he did not want to be liable for property damage stated claim against officer for willful and wanton negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and gender discrimination Doe v. Calumet City, 161 Ill 2d 374, 641 N.E.2d 498 (1994).
271:101 Officer could be sued on allegation that he assured woman that her ex-boyfriend, who had threatened the life of her and her children, would be held in custody overnight, but that he then charged boyfriend with only minor offenses which led to his immediate release and his return to woman's home where he set fire which led to all three children's deaths Pinder v. Johnson, 33 F.3d 368 (4th Cir. 1994).
274:149 City was not liable for stabbing of woman by estranged boyfriend who escaped from officer attempting to arrest him pursuant to warrant for violating "no contact" judicial order Hameed v. Brown, 530 NW2d 703 (Iowa 1995).
275:169 Illinois domestic violence statute creates a "special duty" to provide protection for persons possessing a court issued order of protection; law enforcement officers may be held liable for willful and wanton failure to provide such protection Calloway v. Kinkelaar, 633 N.E.2d 1380 (Ill App. 1994).
275:171 Police department liable for $594,480 to surviving family of man shot and killed by off-duty officer angry that he was having an affair with officer's wife; suit claimed that department knew that officer had previously, while off-duty, beaten his own wife, but failed to take preventative measures to stem officer's "violent propensities" Thomas v. Los Angeles Police Department, No BC086856, LA Superior Court Glendale, May 18, 1995, reported in Los Ang. Daily Jour. (Verd. & Stl.), page 4, June 16, 1995
Nebraska Supreme Court upholds dismissal of suit against city and officer by woman beaten again by her ex-husband after officer called to the scene allegedly assured her that he would be in the area to protect her; officer did not allegedly tell her it was safe to remain at home and complaint did not allege where else she might have gone Hamilton v. City of Omaha, 243 Neb 253, 498 N.W.2d 555 (1993).
City liable for $12 million for abduction and rape of wife by estranged husband and his murder of wife's mother; suit alleged that city had an official policy of providing less protection to domestic violence victims than to other crime victims Ricketts v. City of Columbia, Mo, No 90-4099-CV-C-66BA, U.S. Dist. Ct., WD Mo, 7 Missouri Lawyers Weekly, No 14, p. 1-16 (April 5, 1993).
Estate of woman beaten to death by her husband could not recover damages against city because of the failure of its officer to file written reports of earlier incidents of suspected domestic violence by the husband; failure to file reports could not reasonably be found to be the proximate cause of the death, Alabama Supreme Court rules Thetford v. City of Clanton, 605 So.2d 835 (Ala 1992).
Plaintiff claims that police violated her rights by failure to arrest her husband in response to numerous complaints that he violated court protective orders and that his resulted in her husband stabbing her thirty-three times; court assesses possible liability of individual officers, granting some officers dismissal or qualified immunity, while denying it to others Eagleston v. County of Suffolk, 790 F.Supp. 416 (E.D.N.Y. 1992).
Washington state statute created a mandatory duty for police to arrest an abusive boyfriend or spouse if he was present, but officers were not liable for boyfriend's later deadly stabbing attack on woman when he was not present to be arrested when they arrived on the scene, and woman declined their offer to take her to a shelter Donaldson v. City of Seattle, 829 P.2d 1125 (Wash App. 1992).
Officers' failure to arrest woman's ex-boyfriend on battery warrant did not make them liable for his later shooting of her and her relatives when they voluntarily came into personal contact with the ex-boyfriend Mack v. City of Monroe, 595 So.2d 353 (La App. 1992). City and police officers were not immune from suit by domestic violence victim based on alleged year-long failure to enforce Washington state domestic violence act; statute provided immunity for good-faith actions, but not for failure to act Roy v. City of Everett, 823 P.2d 1084 (Wash 1992).
Sheriff could not be held vicariously liable for his deputies' acts or omissions in failing to prevent estranged husband's stabbing to death of his wife; domestic protection order under New York state law did not, by itself, establish a special duty to protect the wife, but might when combined with officers' knowledge of order and a possible violation Berliner v. Thompson, 578 N.Y.S.2d 687 (A.D. 1992).
Police officers had a duty to protect woman from her abusive husband because of court's protective order, but acted reasonably under the circumstances, when woman herself failed to report several incidents in which she was abducted Siddle v. City of Cambridge, Ohio, 761 F.Supp. 503 (S.D.Ohio 1991).
City might be liable for failing to arrest husband before he killed his wife, if wife justifiably relied on police to obtain and execute an arrest warrant Berliner v. Thompson, 569 N.Y.S.2d 777 (A.D. 1991).
Properly served domestic violence protective order created a constitutionally protected property interest in police protection; abused spouse could sue police department for due process violation Coffman v. Wilson Police Dept, 739 F.Supp. 257 (E.D. Pa 1990).
Town liable for $275,000 for failure to protect woman against assault by her estranged husband, who shot her and her boyfriend and killed her six-year-old son; wrongful death award of $250,000 for the child's death, however, was excessive Raucci v. Town of Rotterdam, 902 F.2d 1050 (2nd Cir. 1990).
Surviving family of woman killed by ex-boyfriend when she returned to crime scene while accompanied by police awarded $106 million for negligence Velez v. City of New York, 556 N.Y.S.2d 537 (A.D. 1990).
Estate of wife shot by her estranged husband -- a deputy sheriff -- granted new trial on question of whether she had relied to her detriment on Sheriff's promise to protect her against spousal violence Braswell v. Braswell, 390 S.E.2d 752 (N.C. App. 1990).
City could be sued for civil rights violation on basis of statistical evidence showing lower level of police response to female victims of domestic violence Hynson v. City of Chester, 731 F.Supp. 1236 (E.D. Pa 1990).
Police department not liable for failing to send police escort home with husband who reported that his wife threatened to kill him there Nichols v. Nichols, 556 So.2d 876 (La App. 1990).
Husband's request to officer to accompany him to house where his wife was in bed with another man did not create a duty for officer to protect wife from harm Zeagler v. Town of Jena, 556 So.2d 978 (La App. 1990).
Police officer's failure to arrest ex-husband who allegedly raped woman was a discretionary act; neither officer or city was liable for failure to protect Howell v. City of Catoosa, 729 F.Supp. 1308 (N.D.Okl 1990). Woman stabbed by boyfriend after police answered domestic violence call but did not arrest him did not show equal protection violation McKee v. City of Rockwall, Tex, 877 F.2d 409 (5th Cir. 1989).
Police officers have qualified immunity from equal protection claims when carrying out departmental domestic violence policy without overt gender discrimination Hynson v. City of Chester, 864 F.2d 1024 (3d Cir. 1988).
City not liable for failure to protect children who were potential witnesses in sexual abuse case from murder by their father Coleman v. Cooper, 366 S.E.2d 2 (N.C. App. 1988).
Sheriff's deputy not liable for removing children from parents' home without court order after investigation of sex abuse report Whitcomb v. Jefferson County Dept of Social Serv, 685 F.Supp. 745 (D.Colo 1987), reported in 1988
Tenth circuit federal appeals court allows plaintiff to bring equal protection civil rights action over alleged failure to protect against domestic violence Watson v. City of Kansas City, 857 F.2d 690 (10th Cir. 1988).
Ninth circuit court of appeals reinstates lawsuit claiming failure to protect woman against beating by husband Balisteri v. Pacifica Police Dept, 855 F.2d 1421 (9th Cir. 1988).
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