Legal Memorandum: Government Liability
You are a paralegal working in the legal department for the City of Chicago. Donny is a Chicago police officer who does not get along with his brother-in-law, Steve. Steve is married to Donnyâ€™s sister, and last Thanksgiving, Steve made several rude and mean comments about her. Since then, Donny and Steve have been archenemies. Last month Donny decided to get revenge and pulled Steve over for a DUI. When Steve inquired what he had done wrong, Donny responded, â€œIâ€™ll find something.â€ During the stop Donny told Steve to perform a field sobriety test and before Steve even started, Donny told him that he failed and Steve was arrested.
Steve posted bail the next day and took the city bus home. As he was exiting the bus, the bus driver pulled away before Steve got off the bus and it accidentally ran him over and broke his leg. It was the bus driverâ€™s first day on the job and he was supposed to be in training. The city was short on drivers that day so they sent the bus driver alone and told him that he would figure it out.
Steve filed a civil rights action under Â§ 1983 against Donny, seeking an injunction prohibiting further harassment from Donny and seeking both general and punitive damages. He alleged that his Constitutional rights were violated due to Donnyâ€™s behavior during the stop and arrest. Steve also sued the city and state.
In a separate case, Steve filed a negligence suit against the bus driver and City of Chicago seeking general and punitive damages.
Based on these facts, prepare a two page legal memorandum for your instructor that includes the following:
- Donny files a motion for dismissal of the entire action under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12, claiming immunity. Should he prevail?
- Assuming that Steve can prove his constitutional claims, can general damages be awarded? Punitive damages? Injunctive relief?
- What must be proven to be successful against the city or the state?
- Is the City of Chicago protected by immunity from liability for the negligent act of the bus driver?