The Federal Civil Rights Act
Most police excessive force cases allege a violation of the Federal Civil
Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The elements are: (1) A “person”
acting under color of State law and (2) causing another person to be deprived
of a federally guaranteed right.
Most cases are based on deprivations of Fourth-Amendment rights. People
have the right to be free from unreasonable and excessive force by the
Police under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The prevailing plaintiff is entitled to compensatory damages, punitive
damages against the individual defendants (but not public entities, which
are immune from punitives), and attorneys’ fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
A § 1983 claim can be filed in state or federal court.
Monell liability provides that a police department is liable for the violation
of Plaintiff’s civil rights caused by a policy, procedure, practice
or custom. See Monell v. New York Department of Social Services, 436 U.S.
658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978).
To establish a Monell violation, California Police Abuse Lawyers review
prior incidents of the department, training records, and policies and
procedures for use of force.
The California Civil Rights Act.
Cal. Civ. Code § 52.1 is the California analogue of § 1983. It
is sometimes referred to as “The Bane Act,” or “The
Unruh Act.” § 52.1 covers violations of federal and state rights
under color of state law, regardless of racial animus. Venegas v. County
of Los Angeles, 32 Cal. 4th 820, 11 Cal. Rptr. 3d 692 (2004).
There are several advantages to § 52.1. Police agencies are subject
to vicarious liability under Cal. Gov’t Code § 815.2(a). Additionally,
qualified immunity does not apply. Statutory damages are available as
well as attorney fees and a multiplier.
California State Tort Causes of Action
California Police Abuse Lawyers typically file state law tort claims against
the officers that used excessive force as well as those that failed to
intervene to prevent the abuses of the Plaintiff. Complaints allege assault,
battery, negligence and false imprisonment. These claims are also not
subject to qualified immunity.
If you or a loved one was injured by the police in California
contact Police abuse attorney Scott D. Hughes for a free consultation.
Scott D. Hughes is a California civil rights attorney practicing in State
and Federal Court.