Legal Memorandum: Cause of Action for a § 1983 Violation

Issue: When does a plaintiff have a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. 1983?

Area of Law: Constitutional Law
Keywords: Civil rights violation; Cause of action
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 810 F.2d 426; 521 U.S. 399; 873 F.2d 814; 126 F.3d 617; 449 U.S. 24; 582 F.2d 1071; 6 F.3d 211; 3 F.3d 89; 297 U.S. 233; 307 U.S. 496
Cited Statutes: 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Date: 04/01/2001

          A complaint states a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by alleging facts that, read in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, state a claim for violation of civil rights by the defendants who were acting under state law. Beckham v. Grand Affair of N.C., Inc., 671 F. Supp. at 420 (W.D.N.C. 1987).  In a § 1983 conspiracy case, the defendant is entitled to dismissal only by a showing that there is no set of facts to support the plaintiff’s allegation that the defendant engaged in a conspiracy, under color of state law, to deprive the plaintiff of a constitutional right.  Id.

When the plaintiff alleges that the defendant was involved in a conspiracy that culminated in an unconstitutional deprivation of due process by a wrongful arrest and unlawful search and seizure of property, the plaintiff’s allegations are sufficient to state a § 1983 cause of action.  Id.  Likewise, a plaintiff’s allegation that each of the defendants agreed to a conspiracy, along with allegations of the defendants’ actions and the defendants’ positions in a conspiracy, is sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss.  Liner v. DiCresce, 905 F. Supp. 280, 286 (M.D.N.C. 1994).  The elements of a conspiracy may be established by circumstantial evidence, as long as the evidence leads to the inference that the defendants “positively or tacitly came to a mutual understanding to try to accomplish a common and unlawful plan.”  Hinkle v. City of Clarksburg, 81 F.3d 416, 421 (4th Cir. 1996).  Allegation of […]

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