Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of Cherry Knoll's complaint against the City of Lakeway, the city manager, and HDR Engineering in a dispute over a plat of land that Cherry Knoll had purchased in Lakeway. Cherry Knoll asserted a claim against the City under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for violating its rights to procedural due process, substantive due process, and equal protection by filing the Subdivision Plats without its consent and over its objection. The court held that these allegations satisfied the standard for official municipal policy under Pembaur v. City of Cincinnati and the district court erred in finding otherwise. The court also held that the district court erred in determining that the city manager was entitled to the protection of qualified immunity at the Rule 12(b)(6) stage. Finally, the court held that Cherry Knoll's well-pleaded factual allegations and supporting documents make plausible its claim that HDR was a "willful participant in joint action" for purposes of section 1983. Accordingly, the court remanded the matter and reinstated Cherry Knoll's state law claims. View "Cherry Knoll, LLC v. Jones" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's complaint against her former employers, alleging that she was fired because of her sexual orientation (heterosexual) and Defendant Huber's reaction to plaintiff's pro-heterosexual speech. Plaintiff, the manager of PNP's human resources department, made a Facebook post criticizing a man wearing a dress and noting his ability to use the women's bathroom and/or dressing room. The court held that plaintiff's Title VII retaliation claim failed because Title VII does not protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and, even if it did, the district court did not err in finding that plaintiff could not have reasonably believed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was a prohibited practice. The court also held that the district court correctly dismissed the state claim because none of defendants were state actors and were therefore not covered by the the restrictions of Article 1, section 7 of the Louisiana constitution. View "O'Daniel v. Industrial Service Solutions" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from the district court's 2017 decision to grant "provisional" unitary status to the school system in the area of facilities. The district court set a two-year year probationary period, during which it would retain jurisdiction over that aspect of the desegregation order and the school district would face semiannual compliance reviews. At the end of the two years, the district court would then consider an "unconditional" grant of unitary status in facilities. The school board appealed. The court held that the Youngblood procedure, requiring a probationary period before final dismissal of a desegregation case, is a longstanding practice in this circuit. The court rejected the school board's legal challenge to the Youngblood procedure and held that a district court has long had discretion to impose a Youngblood period, and the school board cited nothing that would allow the court to depart from this settled law. The court also held that the district court did not clearly err by determining that the school board came up a bit short of demonstrating good faith compliance and that a two year probationary period was necessary in this case. View "Moore v. Tangipahoa Parish School Board" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to prison officials in his 42 U.S.C. 1983 action for excessive force, failure to intervene, deliberate indifference, and retaliation claims arising from use of force during his confinement. Liberally construing plaintiff's appellate contentions and reviewing de novo, the Fifth Circuit held that Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), and its progeny did not bar plaintiff's excessive force claims. In this case, plaintiffs excessive force claims implicated neither the validity of his underlying conviction nor the duration of his sentence. In regard to whether defendants were entitled to qualified immunity, the court held that there was a genuine dispute of material fact concerning what occurred during the use of force. Therefore, the court remanded for further consideration. View "Bourne v. Gunnels" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, alleging unconstitutional censorship on the Hunt County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) Facebook page. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's claims against the individual defendants because the only claims against the individual defendants were plaintiff's individual-capacity claims for monetary damages and her official-capacity claims for equitable relief, which she did not appeal. However, the court vacated the dismissal of plaintiff's claims against Hunt County, because plaintiff sufficiently pleaded an official policy of viewpoint discrimination on the HCSO Facebook page. In this case, the complaint alleged that Hunt County had an explicit policy of viewpoint discrimination on the HCSO Facebook page. The court also held that, to the extent the district court determined that plaintiff's declaratory judgment claims against Hunt County were redundant of her claims for injunctive relief, this conclusion was inconsistent with the purposes of the Declaratory Judgment Act and therefore an abuse of discretion. Furthermore, plaintiff's request for declaratory relief was not duplicative of her claims for compensatory damages. Finally, the court vacated the district court's preliminary injunction order and remanded for further proceedings. View "Robinson v. Hunt County" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's federal application for post-conviction relief where he was sentenced to death for killing his great aunt. The court held that the Director did not waive her statute of limitations defense; the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining whether to equitably toll the limitations period; the state court did not abuse its discretion by holding that petitioner's confession was taken in contravention of Miranda v. Arizona, but that its admission was harmless error under the Supreme Court's decision in Chapman v. California; and the district court did not improperly deny petitioner investigative funding under 18 U.S.C. 3599(f). View "Jones v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims against Investigator Dalton. At issue was whether the government may detain the owner of a business that is being searched not because of suspected criminal activity but instead for possible civil violations. In this case, during the search of a medical clinic that resulted in plaintiff being detained for a few hours, the investigator pushed plaintiff down, drew his gun multiple times, and limited plaintiff's movement and access to facilities such as the restroom. The court held that plaintiff's allegations established a Fourth Amendment violation based on the intrusiveness of the detention, but that the sparse caselaw in this area had not clearly established the unlawfulness of this type of detention. Therefore, the investigator was entitled to qualified immunity. View "Okorie v. Crawford" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal with prejudice of Fair Housing Act claims asserted against the owners and management company of apartment complexes in the greater Dallas area that declined to participate in the federal Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. The court held that the Supreme Court's language in Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 2507 (2015), was stricter than the regulation itself and thus applied the stricter version of the burden-shifting analysis. The court held that the district court did not err in determining that the allegations of ICP's complaint regarding defendants' "no vouchers" policies failed to allege facts sufficient to provide the robust causation necessary for an actionable disparate impact claim. The court also held that the vague and conclusory allegations of disparate treatment that ICP asserted collectively against defendants were legally insufficient to support a reasonable inference of intentional race discrimination; the district court did not err by dismissing the disparate treatment liability claim against Lincoln; and the district court did not err by dismissing the advertising liability claim against Lincoln. View "Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. v. Lincoln Property Co." on Justia Law

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After defendant, a Mississippi school attendance officer, swore an arrest warrant affidavit against plaintiff for failure to ensure a child attended school, plaintiff filed suit alleging that defendant violated her Fourth Amendment rights because the affidavit lacked probable cause under Malley v. Briggs and was untruthful under Franks v. Delaware. The district court denied defendant's motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. The Fifth Circuit affirmed as to the Malley claim and held that the affidavit lacked any facts to establish probable cause. However, the court reversed as to the Franks claim because it was incompatible with a Malley theory. The court held that a plaintiff cannot hold an officer liable under Franks for intentionally omitting important exculpatory information from a warrant affidavit when the officer has also committed a Malley violation by presenting a facially deficient warrant affidavit to the issuing judge. View "Blake v. Lambert" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging that officers had violated her son's, Gavrila Dupuis-Mays, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of the officers' motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity and held that the officers did not violate Dupuis-Mays's constitutional rights and were entitled to qualified immunity on the unlawful detention claim. Furthermore, even assuming the officers did violate Dupuis-Mays's constitutional rights, plaintiff failed to demonstrate that clearly established law put the officers on notice that their conduct was illegal. Rather, established law in this circuit suggested that the officers were acting legally by relying on the representations of credible persons that Dupuis-Mays met the statutory requirements for apprehension. The court also held that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff's claim that the officers violated Dupuis-Mays's Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force to restrain him in the triage room. In this case, plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the officers violated clearly established law by moving Dupuis-Mays—who was increasingly aggravated, repeatedly spitting at the officers, and failing to comply with instructions to stop—to the floor, even though he collided with a cabinet on the way down. Finally, the officers were entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff's claim that they prepared false police reports. View "Rich v. Palko" on Justia Law