Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

City Liable for Police Beating; Prior Settlements Admissible to Prove Policy

The 17-year-old plaintiff was forcibly arrested and thrown against a van, causing bruises to chest and head, was kneed in the back, and was bruised by excessively tight handcuffs, after engaging in a mock fight witnessed by a police officer who during the transaction addressed the youths in the area as "long-haired acid freaks."

The de minimis injury standard is not part of Fourth Amendment due process analysis in the Eleventh Circuit. The defendant officer violated the Fourth Amendment, since the plaintiff did not threaten anyone and did not resist arrest.

The municipality could be held liable for the defendant's conduct based on four prior settlements of use of force cases based on his conduct. At 909:

And while most of these cases were settled and not resolved on the merits, the fact that the merit of such claims was never determined does not rob them of their significance in demonstrating that Springville knew of the existence of a possible problem, particularly when the majority of the complaints involve the same kind of constitutional violation, i.e., use of excessive force. The number of cases, the small size (five officers) of the department, the lack of use of force training after the incidents, and the lack of discipline after them precludes summary judgment on the city's deliberate indifference.

The defendant officer is not entitled to discretionary function immunity because there are facts supporting malicious behavior. His "touching" of the plaintiff was hostile and supports a claim for assault and battery. See: Nolin v. Town of Springville, 45 F.Supp.2d 894 (N.D.Ala. 1999).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Nolin v. Town of Springville