Lozano v. New Jersey

The Third Circuit addressed the degree to which an officer must be involved in an arrest or charging a suspect to be liable for violating that suspect’s rights. The plaintiff, a former marine, was discharged for medical reasons. He had a handicapped parking permit and a permit for the tinted windows on his car. Due to the tint, a police sergeant could not see the handicapped placard while the plaintiff sat in his car in a Wawa parking lot, in a handicapped spot, while he ate his hoagie. The sergeant and the plaintiff disagreed about whether the plaintiff was intoxicated. But Officer David Hernandez was also “present” throughout the events. Officer Hernandez drove the plaintiff to the station and helped process him. Eventually, charges of DUI were dismissed. The plaintiff filed a Section 1983 suit naming Officer Hernandez as a defendant. The officer moved for summary judgment, claiming he had qualified immunity because he was not involved in the arrest. The District Court denied the motion, and Officer Hernandez appealed. Preliminarily, the Third Circuit ruled that it had collateral order jurisdiction over summary judgment orders denying qualified immunity under the New Jersey Civil Rights Act, N.J.S.A. § 10:6–1 et seq., insofar as they raised questions of law. The Court then ruled that the officer was entitled to immunity because the evidence showed that he was merely present. Thus, the Court reversed and remanded.

Lozano