Legal Memorandum: Actions under the Federal Civil Rights Law

Issue: Is a person injured during a police chase of another person entitled to bring a 1983 action for his or her injuries?

Area of Law: Constitutional Law, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Violation of rights; Injury resulting from an abuse of government authority
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 821 F. Supp. 823; 100 F.3d 1033; 512 F. Supp. 228; 113 F.3d 4; 523 U.S. 833
Cited Statutes: 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2000)
Date: 05/01/2000

           In order to bring an action under the federal civil rights laws, a plaintiff must show a violation of rights secured by the U.S. Constitution.  While personal injury resulting from an abuse of government authority is a valid basis for an action under the federal civil rights law, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2000), see, e.g., Pearman v. Walker, 512 F. Supp. 228 (D. R.I. 1981) (suit for personal injuries arising from false imprisonment), the courts make it clear that police chases do not implicate the Fourth or Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.  See, e.g., County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833 (1998) (discussing Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments in police chase context); see also Boveri v. Saugus, 113 F.3d 4 (1st Cir. 1997); Evans v. Avery, 100 F.3d 1033 (1st Cir. 1996); Medeiros v. Town of South Kingston, 821 F. Supp. 823 (D.R.I. 1993). 


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