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Weekly Caselaw Updates

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Mears v. Connolly

When the plaintiff visited her mentally ill son, a state psychiatrist and nurse left her alone. The staff was supposed to supervise all patient meetings. And the plaintiff's son had a history of violence. When the staff left them alone, the sun beat the plaintiff severely. The plaintiff sued under…

Mears v. Connolly
3rd Circuit

When the plaintiff visited her mentally ill son, a state psychiatrist and nurse left her alone. The staff was supposed to supervise all patient meetings. And the plaintiff’s son had a history of violence. When the staff left them alone, the sun beat the plaintiff severely. The plaintiff sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, but… Continue reading Mears v. Connolly

Jefferson v. Lias
3rd Circuit

After a high-speed chase, a police officer shot the fleeing motorist. That motorist filed a Section 1983 action against the police officer for violating his Fourth Amendment rights and a Monell claim against the municipality that employed the officer for failure to adequately train. The District Court determined that the officer was entitled to qualified… Continue reading Jefferson v. Lias

Dennis v. City of Philadelphia
3rd Circuit

The Third Circuit affirmed the District Court’s denial of a motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s Section 1983 claims. Defendant-appellants are police detectives who investigated Plaintiff for charges relating to the murder of a high-school student, a crime for which a jury convicted Plaintiff. In 2013, the District Court granted Plaintiff’s habeas petition and vacated his murder… Continue reading Dennis v. City of Philadelphia

Lozano v. New Jersey
3rd Circuit

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… Continue reading Lozano v. New Jersey

Peroza-Benitez v. Smith
3rd Circuit

In Peroza-Benitez v. Smith, Plaintiff sued members of the City of Reading Police Department pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the  U.S. Constitution. Plaintiff also asserted battery claims under Pennsylvania common law. Defendants moved for summary judgment on the grounds of qualified immunity,… Continue reading Peroza-Benitez v. Smith

El v. City of Pittsburgh
3rd Circuit

In El v. City of Pittsburgh, the 3rd Circuit confronted two brothers’ Section 1983 actions against three Pittsburgh police officers. What started as an investigatory detention over the possibility that one brother might have purchased tobacco underage (he didn’t) ended with one brother tasered, and the other brother slammed against a wall. The Court reiterated… Continue reading El v. City of Pittsburgh

Allen v. NJ State Police
3rd Circuit

In Allen v. N.J. State Police, the 3rd Circuit considered whether a criminal case ended in the plaintiff’s favor when the state abandoned prosecution after he pleaded guilty, though the N.J. Supreme Court later reversed the judgment, finding that a pre-trial motion to suppress was erroneously denied. The 3rd Circuit determined that the sworn testimony… Continue reading Allen v. NJ State Police

Bletz v. Corrie
3rd Circuit

In Bletz v. Corrie, the 3rd Circuit opined about when law enforcement may shoot the family dog. Seriously. The Court held that the use of deadly force against a household pet is reasonable if the pet poses an imminent threat to the law enforcement officer’s safety, viewed from the perspective of an objectively reasonable officer.

Harvard v. Cesnalis
3rd Circuit

Read the 3rd Circuit’s opinion in Harvard v. Cesnalis. It is equal parts sad and unbelievable. In this Section 1983 suit, the police believed a (White) violent attacker’s implausible story, discredited the (Black) plaintiff’s corroborated and perfectly plausible story, and charged the plaintiff with DUI despite his heroic acts to protect a stranger from her… Continue reading Harvard v. Cesnalis

Porter v. Pa. Dep’t of Corr.
3rd Circuit

In Porter v. Pa. Dep’t of Corr., the 3rd Circuit ruled that its 2017 decision in Williams v. Sec’y Pa. Dep’t of Corr. applied to a plaintiff in a Section 1983 action where that plaintiff’s death sentence had been vacated, but the vacatur order was currently stayed pursuant to local district court rules. The Court… Continue reading Porter v. Pa. Dep’t of Corr.