Legal Memorandum: Fourth Amendment Violation Claim

Issue: What is needed to prove a federal claim of violation of Fourth Amendment based on deliberate indifference?

Area of Law: Constitutional Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Fourth amendment violation; Deliberate indifference
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 473 U.S. 159; 229 F.3d 478; 550 U.S. 544; 426 U.S. 658; 520 U.S. 397
Cited Statutes: 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Date: 05/01/2011

The elements of a section 1983 claim are: a “person” acted under “color of law” and deprived the plaintiff of a constitutional right.  42 U.S.C. § 1983; Hebert v. Williams, No. 10-0014 (E.D. La. Nov. 29, 2010) (citing McGuire v. Lafourche Parish Work-Release Facility, No. 09-6755 (E.D. La. Dec. 4, 2009)).  A claim against a “person” in his or her official capacity is simply another way of suing the office.  Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985); Turner v. Houma Mun. Fire & Police Civil Serv. Bd., 229 F.3d 478, 483 (5th Cir. 2000). 

An official-capacity claim does not rest only on a deprivation of a federal right.  Instead, the governmental entity must be a “moving force” behind the deprivation and “the entity’s ‘policy or custom’ must have played a part in the violation federal law.”  Graham, 473 U.S. at 166; Mack v. City of Abilene, 461 F.3d 547, 556 (5th Cir. 2006) (to prevail on § 1983 claim, plaintiff must allege a policy or custom, including an inadequate policy or custom, that gave rise to the claimed injury).  See also Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep’t of Social Servs., 426 U.S. 658 (1978) (§ 1983 claim requires allegation that plaintiff’s constitutional rights were violated because of a written policy, long-standing custom or practice, or the act of a “final policymaker”). 

“Deliberate indifference may be shown by either the failure to train in response to repeated violations of federal law or in the […]

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