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Civil Rights Litigation
Villanova University School of Law
Ravenell, Teressa E.

Civil Rights Litigation

Enforcing the Constitution

Ravenell – Spring 2013

§1983 Elements

– Acting under color of law

o Misuse of power

§ Monroe v. Pape

· Misuse of power that is only possible bc wrongdoer is clothed w/ authority

o St action or St law?

§ UCL is big circle, can contain St action or private person

· State action is always UCL

o St action is 14th Amend, UCL statutory

o Lugar

§ Private indiv. had Ct issue writ and sheriff enforce (ruled UCL)

§ Conduct allegedly causing the deprivation of a fed right must be fairly attributable to the St

§ Elements:

· The deprivation must be caused by

o The exercise of some right or privilege created by the St

o Or by a rule of conduct imposed by the St

o Or by a person for whom the St is responsible

· The party charged w/ the deprivation must be a person who may fairly be said to be a St actor

o Flagg

§ Indiv. relied on St stat. and possessed prop. on his won (non-UCL)

o St Action

§ Burton – entanglement, nexus

§ Rendell Baker – public fcn

§ Brentwood Academy – entwinement

§ Lugar, Flagg

§ 3 Questions

· Alleged nature of deprivation?

· Is D gov’t official or private party?

· What theory does P advance?

o Gov’t official or private indiv.?

§ Gov’t official acting as gov’t official is UCL

· Private person

– Every person

– Acting under color of St law

– Shall subject or cause another to subject

– A citizen or other person w/in the district

– Deprivation of rights, privileges, immunities secured by US Const.

– Which in turn causes

– An actual injury

Rights, Privileges, and Immunities

– Needs to be Constitutional Violation

o Then can sue under §1983

– 4th Amendment

o Needs to be unreasonable

§ Graham v. Connor (1989)

· Balancing test: nature and quality of intrusion v. gov’t interest

o Objective standard

§ Motive/intent irrelevant

o Fact-sensitive

§ Crime at issue, safety concerns, injury caused, etc.

· Bring more applicable Amend claim rather than DP (4th rather than 14th)

· Scott v. Harris (2007)

o Needs to be search and seizure

§ Brower v. Inyo (1989)

· Defining seizure – termination of movement done willfully; occurred thru intentionally applied means

§ No seizure if unintentional seizure (Sacramento)

– Custody Cases

o Under arrest by police = 4th Amend Standard

o Convicted of Crimes = 8th Amend

o Neither = SDP

– 8th Amend

o Malicious and sadistic standard

§ Deliberate indifference

§ 4th neg. standard of objective reasonableness

o Farmer v. Brennan (1994)

§ Defining Deliberate Indifference or Recklessness

· Crim. standard – D needs to know

o Ostrich effect will not avoid liability

o 8th Amend claims turn on crim. standard

§ Harder standard weakened by ostrich rule

· Civil standard – D knows or should have known

o Excessive Force

§ Hudson

· Whether force was applied in good faith to maintain/restore discipline or maliciously and sadistically for very purpose of causing harm

– 14th Amend

o Excessive Force

o Environmental Conditions

o Wrongful Imprisonment

o Sandin v. Conner (1995)

§ Deprivation of Liberty was 30 day segregation after disciplinary hearing w/o Ws

· Liberty interest not met:


· SDP deprivations can never occur, no matter what procedure

§ Parratt v. Taylor (1981)

· Officials losing prop. is not SDP violation

o No right to be free but negligence

· Could have PDP claim

· Negligence does not amt to SDP rights violation

o Daniels v. Williams (1988)

§ Sacramento v. Lewis (1998)

– 14th Amend Substantive Due Process

– “Shocks the Conscious” Scale

o Negligence (no SDP violation, never applies)

o Gross Neg. or Recklessness (Questionable)

o Deliberate Indifference (Questionable, debate is made)

§ Refusal of prisoner med. services

o Intentional or Malicious Conduct (SDP violation)

o Needed for police chase

o DeShaney (1989)

§ Nothing requires the St to protect against private actors

· Just not to deprive

§ St inaction =/= St action

§ After DeShaney

· “Special Relationship” exception

o Recognized by SCOTUS

o Prisoner does not have means to protect self

· “St Created Danger” exception

o Not recognized by SCOTUS

o Tedder (3rd Cir. 1996)

§ Elements:

· Harm ultimately caused was foreseeable and fairly direct

· St actor acted in willful disregard for the safety of the P

· Some relationship btw St and P

· St actors used their authority to create an opportunity that otherwise would not have existed for the 3rd party’s crime to occur