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NM Prisoner Wins $490,000 for Warrantless Blood Draw

Jimmie Marshall was arrested by Hobbs, New Mexico police for driving under the influence. He submitted to a breathalyzer test but was also taken to a hospital where his blood was drawn for drug testing against his will. In 1999 Marshall filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in federal district court, claiming that his right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure under the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution had been violated. A jury agreed and awarded him $90,000 in damages against two cops, as well as $300,000 in punitive damages against one cop and $100,000 against the other. The defendants appealed, claiming qualified immunity.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit noted that the defendants would be entitled to qualified immunity only if they could not have known under the law when the blood was drawn that taking the blood as they did would be unlawful. The appellate court found that the law in effect at the time made it clear that they couldn't have taken Marshall's blood against his will unless they either had a warrant or had to draw the blood immediately in order to avoid losing evidence. Since neither exception existed, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court. See: Marshall v. Columbia Lea Regional Hospital, 474 F.3d 733 (10th Cir. 2007).

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Related legal case

Marshall v. Columbia Lea Regional Hospital