A New Direction for Qualified Immunity in Alleged Factual Disputes in Fourth Amendment Excessive Force Claims? – Supreme Court Foreshadows Potential Future Treatment

On April 24, 2017, the Supreme Court denied a petition filed challenging the Fifth Circuit’s affirmance of a case in which the district court granted summary judgment to a police officer on qualified immunity grounds in an excessive force case. Plaintiff was shot in the back and paralyzed after struggling with the police officer and reaching for his waistband during a traffic stop. District court granted summary judgment. Fifth Circuit affirmed. Supreme Court denied leave. Plaintiff had argued that the factual disputes were sufficient to get past the summary judgment stage.

Not necessarily a remarkable outcome in terms of appellate proceedings, but certainly worth considering the concurring and dissenting statement of the justices because it previews the general direction (with the addition of Gorsuch) that the court may be going and foreshadows a turning point, or a future correction in the summary judgment standard applied in factually based disputes over fourth amendment excessive force claims.

Federal courts have taken the view that just about any factual disputes alleged by the plaintiff avoids the immunity defense and forces the government to trial.

The concurring / dissenting statements in the denial of the petition, as well as the Fifth Circuit’s opinion (both attached) are certainly worth keeping in the pocket.

Read the Fifth Circuit’s opinion here: Salazar-Limon v. City of Houston

And the Supreme Court’s competing statements in denying the writ: 16-515-concurring-and-dissenting-from-cert-denial

About cjtucker06

Owner of law firm since July 2014; Handles all types of appellate matters and assists other lawyers with complex litigation and insurance coverage issues; Admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the State Bar of Michigan; Expertise in prosecuting and defending appeals with several significant successes in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals; Author of briefs amicus curiae in the Michigan Supreme Court for the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel and the Insurance Institute of Michigan; Represents Insurance Companies, Major International Business, Governmental Entities, Law Enforcement Officers and County Sheriffs. Board of Directors, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel Amicus Committee Co-Chair, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel Military - Retired Major in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps of the United States Army, Brigade Judge Advocate and Staff JAG officer for the Maneuver Training Center, Camp Grayling, Michigan; Recipient of the Army's Meritorious Service Medal (the highest medal of honor available to Soldiers serving in non-combat roles); 2012 Graduate of the Judge Advocate Officer Advanced Course, at The Judge Advocate Legal Center and School, Charlottesville, Virginia. United States Navy Reserves, Combat Warfare Qualification, January 1989 to July 2003 Former law clerk to Justice Stephen J. Markman, Michigan Supreme Court, Research Attorney, Michigan Court of Appeals. Insurance Coverage Associate Plunkett Cooney; Environmental Law Attorney at Squire Sanders, now Squire Patton Boggs; Master's Degree in Environmental Law; Environmental Law Scholar, ALI/ABA Washington, D.C., Juris Doctorate, Vermont Law School, Environmental Editor, Vermont Law Review; Treasurer and Finalist, Moot Court Advisory Board.
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