Johnson and Bell
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IN THIS ISSUE

 

NEWSLETTER

Fall 2011

ARTICLES

A MUNICIPAL ENTITY MAY BE DEEMED SOLELY LIABLE FOR A SINGLE AND INTENTIONAL UNCONSTITUTIONAL ACT OF ITS LEGISLATURE

Eydie R. Glassman

Legislators, while engaging in acts that are legislative in character, are entitled to absolute immunity for their actions, pursuant to the federal doctrine of legislative immunity.  The doctrine, originally afforded only to state legislators, was eventually extended to municipal legislatures in the matter of Tenny v. Brandhove, 341 U.S. 367 (1951).

The voting on and passing of budgets or budget ordinances for example, is considered legislative in nature, and legislators therefore, are entitled to absolute legislative immunity based on the nature of the activity itself, without question to any underlying motive or intent. The immunity arose and has flourished, out of concerns that withholding absolute immunity would deter local legislators from public service. The irony however, is that a municipal entity may ultimately be deemed solely liable for an intentional and unconstitutional act of its legislature, while the legislators themselves are deemed absolutely immune from suit.

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FOURTH AMENDMENT'S REASONABLENESS STANDARD- DUTY TO RESPOND TO AN ARRESTEE'S MEDICAL NEEDS PRE-PROBABLE CAUSE HEARING AND TRIAL

Gabriel R. Judd

The courts have long held that “when the State takes a person into its custody and holds [him or her] there against [his or her] will, the Constitution imposes upon it a corresponding duty to assume some responsibility for [his or her] safety and general well-being.”  DeShaney v. Winnebago Cnty. Dep’t of Soc. Serv., 489 U.S. 189, 199-200 (1989).  State actors who encounter a detainee are constitutionally obligated to reasonably respond to his or her medical complaints. Failure to do so may result in both the municipality and individual employee being held civilly liable regardless of how long the arrestee was detained.

In Ortiz v. City of Chicago, the Seventh Circuit reversed, in part, the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the defendants with respect to defendants’ denial of plaintiff’s medical care claim. Applying the Fourth Amendment’s reasonableness standard, the appeals court held that the plaintiff, decedent’s daughter April Ortiz, sufficiently showed: (1) each individual defendant officer was on notice of the decedent’s medical condition; (2) her medical needs were serious in nature; and (3) their failure to act caused her harm, in order to survive summary judgment. 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 17759 (7th Cir. August 25, 2011).

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