Blog

Section 1983 – independent intermediary rule

In Buehler v. City of Austin, Texas, 824 F.3d 548 (5th Cir. 2016), the Fifth Circuit again applied its independent intermediary rule to a false arrest claim. The facts in Buehler are fairly simple. Officers of the Austin Police Department arrested Buehler on three occasions for interfering with police duties while he filmed APD interactions with [..]

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Removal to federal court – the forum defendant rule

Here, we look at the question of whether an out-of-state defendant can remove a state court action to federal court when an in-state party is also named as a defendant. Assume this scenario: Plaintiff Johnson sues Defendant Smith and Defendant Williams in Mississippi state court. The parties are residents of these states: -Johnson (Tennessee) -Smith [..]

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Uninsured motorists and sovereign immunity

On May 31, 2019, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in McGlothin v. State Farm Mutual Insurance Company and addressed the question of whether Mississippi law required State Farm to pay an uninsured motorist claim when the driver of the other vehicle enjoyed immunity under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (“MTCA”). The [..]

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New excessive force decision

On May 21, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued its opinion in Valderas v. City of Lubbock. The issue in that case was whether Valderas could maintain a Section 1983 claim for the use of excessive force by the police. Facts of the case. Lubbock police went to a [..]

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Arrest warrant issued on faulty affidavit

We recently wrote about a Section 1983 claim when a person was arrested based upon a false affidavit signed by a law enforcement officer. Today, we discuss another situation in which a faulty affidavit can give rise to a constitutional rights violation. On September 18, 2018, United States District Judge Carlton W. Reeves issued an [..]

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Section 1983 claim for malicious criminal prosecution

Here, we discuss a Section 1983 claim for malicious criminal prosecution. Recently, the Fifth Circuit issued its opinion in Winfrey v. Rogers, 901 F.3d 483 (5th Cir. 2018). In that case, Richard Winfrey (“Junior”)  was arrested and charged with murder after a botched investigation and various alleged violations of Junior’s Fourth Amendment rights. The State [..]

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Retaliatory arrests for exercising free speech

Last year, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach. In its opinion, the Court addressed the interplay between lawful arrests and the use of government power to suppress free speech. As the Court said, “an arrest deprives a person of essential liberties, but if there is probable [..]

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Absolute Immunity in Section 1983 lawsuits

Today we discuss the defense of absolute immunity to a Section 1983 lawsuit alleging a violation of constitutional rights. We previously wrote here about the defense of qualified immunity. To recap, most government employees are immune from such a lawsuit unless the plaintiff proves that: The government employee violated a constitutional right of the plaintiff; [..]

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Retaliation in the workplace.

We previously wrote here about Title VII, a federal law that prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Today, we discuss the related concept of an employer’s retaliation against an employee who exercises her rights under Title VII. Under federal law, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against [..]

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Section 1983 claims for failure to prevent prison suicide

When an inmate is at risk of committing suicide, prison officials are obligated to take certain actions. Recently, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals addressed a Section 1983 constitutional claim arising from a prison suicide. In Arenas v. Calhoun (decided April 26, 2019), the facts were as follows: While patrolling a unit of a state [..]

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