Title 42 USC Section 1983 Information

Laws: Cases and Codes : U.S. Code : Title 42 : Section 1983

Sec. 1983. - Civil action for deprivation of rights

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia 

Child Protective Services- YOU ARE FIRED!  This is your Pink Slip

AFRA's Title 42 USC Section 1983 Caselaw Bin

The 42 USC Section 1983 page at

The Civil Rights Act of 1871
Law bans discrimination enacted under color of state law.

The Civil Rights Act of 1871 is found in Title 42, section 1983 of the United States Code and so is commonly referred to as section 1983. It provides that anyone who, under color of state or local law, causes a person to be deprived of rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, or federal law, is liable to that person.


MONROE v. PAPE 365 U.S. 167 (1961)


Six black children and their parents brought a Section 1983 action in federal district court against the city of Chicago and thirteen of its police officers for damages for violation of their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.  They alleged that, without warrant, the police officers broke into their home in the early morning, routed them from bed, made them stand naked in the living room, and ransacked every room, emptying drawers and ripping mattress covers; that the father was taken to the police station and detained on "open" charges for ten hours while he was interrogated about a two-day-old murder; that he was not taken before a magistrate, though one was accessible; that he was subsequently released without criminal charges being filed against him.


Were the police officers and the city of Chicago liable under Section 1983 for what was done to the plaintiffs?  (Yes)


Police officers acting illegally and outside their scope of authority may be liable under Section 1983 despite the requirement that the officers must have been acting under color of state law.  The statutory words "under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory" contained in 42 U.S.C. 1983 do not exclude acts of an official or police officer who can show no authority under state law, custom, or usage to do what he or she did or who even violated the state constitution and laws.  The city of Chicago, however, was not held liable, because the Court ruled that Congress did not intend to bring municipal corporations within the ambit of Section 1983 (this ruling was later overturned by the Court).


This case virtually opened the floodgates of the courts to civil rights (or Section 1983) litigation.  Prior to this, it was difficult to hold public officials liable under Section 1983 because of the requirement that they must have acted under color of state law.  Most civil liabilities, however, stem from the abuse of power or authority by the police, and such actions were considered outside the color of state law.  Monell changed all that.  Now police officers can be sued under Section 1983 if what they did arose out of a "misuse of power possessed by virtue of state law and made possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the authority of state law."  An officer who abuses his or her authority can now be sued under Section 1983 as having acted under color of state law.  Under Monell, the term "under color of state law" is not synonymous with "acting within the scope of authority."  An officer can act outside the scope of authority, or even illegally, and still be sued under Section 1983 as having acting under color of state law.


Section 1983 Litigation in a Nutshell
by Michael G. Collins

A reliable source on Section 1983 litigation, this Law in a Nutshell: Section 1983 Litigation provides an authoritative commentary which includes coverage of Monroe and the modern Section 1983 Action; Parratt and the scope of due process; excessive force, private violence, and Section 1983; and enforcing the laws under Section 1983. Also discusses municipal liability, state sovereign immunity, and personal immunities.

Features and Benefits include:
-Timesaving reference tool;
-Broad coverage of Section 1983;
-Details Section 1983 in the state courts;
-Discusses Section 1983 and habeas corpus;
-Identifies jurisdiction and procedure;
-Answer exam questions quickly and accurately.
366 pages; ISBN 0314247098

Section 1983 Litigation (PDF size-375k)
Karen M. Blum
Suffolk University Law School 

Kathyn  R. Urbonya
The College of William and Mary School of Law

Rosenstock's Section 1983 Civil Rights Digest
by Richard Rosenstock

Michigan Appellate Digest
Supreme Court Case

Mudge v Macomb County 
SCt# 103985
Decided: July 1, 1998
Panel: (entire bench): TAYLOR, Weaver (concurring in part), Boyle (concurring in part; dissenting in part)

458 Mich 87; 580 NW2d 845

Civil Rights - Section 1983 Action - Liability - Violation of Rights - Federal/State

Recovery in a section 1983 action must be based upon the deprivation of a federal statutory or constitutional right. The violation of a state law cannot be the basis of a section 1983 claim. A claim based upon an action which violated both federal and state law may be pursued.

Shielded from Justice: Police Brutality and Accountability in the United States

U.S. Law:

Civil Remedies

In deflecting criticisms regarding the government's failure to fulfill its obligation to ensure the rights of individuals within the United States are protected, officials often point to civil remedies as the most effective avenue for redress. Although no substitute for prosecutions of officers who commit crimes, civil cases are easier to pursue as an evidentiary matter because they use a lower standard of proof than is required in criminal cases: a preponderance of the evidence, rather than beyond a reasonable doubt. Some reforms in police practices have stemmed from costly lawsuits or the threat of lawsuits; more typically, however, civil remedies have been limited to providing monetary relief to individual victims. And, unlike criminal cases and disciplinary actions against officers, which are pursued by the government, most civil cases must be shouldered by the plaintiff.

To Preclude or not to Preclude?: 
Section 1983 Claims Surviving Title IX's Onslaught
(PDF size- 175k)

In 1977, the Illinois Supreme Court held that no cause of action existed against a local school district for its refusal to place a learning disabled student in special education classes.  Pierce v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, 69 Ill. 2d 89 (1977).  The court based its decision on two factors; (1) the plaintiff's failure to exhaust all administrative remedies; and (2) the local school district was the improper party; rather, the court found that placement of learning disabled students was the duty of the Illinois State Board of Education.

International Assn. of Chiefs of Police
Legal Officers Section & Police Psychological Services Section
2001 Conference materials

U.S.C. Section 1983 Civil Rights Update October 2001

The Beazley Family Litigation (1993 to 2002)

Justice O"Connor- uphold the Beazley's Civil Rights and those of 19 million Title IV-D families arising under The US Constitution & Laws at conference on Federal Damage Claims thru Trial by Jury

California ban on emotional distress damages does not apply to section 1983 survivor claim

The Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles has ruled that a decedent's representative may recover emotional distress damages in a section 1983 civil rights action. It determined that California's statutory bar to such damages offended the policies underlying section 1983.

Courts entertaining section 1983 claims must follow state survival rules, unless the rules violate federal law. Robertson v. Wegmann, 436 U.S. 584 (1978); 42 U.S.C. sec. 1988. California law provides for survival of a decedent's causes of action. In a survival action, the estate may recover punitive damages, but not the decedent's emotional distress damages. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code secs. 377.20, 377.34. The Court of Appeal decided that the availability of economic and punitive damages against individual defendants did not sufficiently serve section 1983's deterrent policy. Local government entities are immune from section 1983 punitive damage liability. Therefore, plaintiffs should be able to recover their decedents' emotional distress damages to deter unlawful conduct. The court disagreed with a contrary statement in Garcia v. Superior Court, 42 Cal. App. 4th 177 (1996), which was discussed in the March 1996 issue of Appellate Decisions Noted. It also distinguished Garcia as involving a civil rights claim that caused the decedent's death. That gave the survivors the additional remedy of a wrongful death action. The court chose to follow a similar federal district court decision. See Williams v. City of Oakland, 915 F. Supp. 1074 (N.D. Cal. 1996), discussed in the April 1996 issue.

County of Los Angeles v. Superior Court, 1996 WL 668584 (Cal. Ct. App. Nov. 20, 1996

Challenging the Conditions of Prisons and Jails:
A Report on Section 1983 Litigation

The frivilous 1983 litigation champion- Brock

National Housing Law Project
Housing Law Bulletin

Wright v. Roanoke Survives Again

Ten years ago, the Supreme Court ended an era in which public and assisted housing tenants had had a difficult time enforcing federal housing legislation in federal court. The case was Wright v. Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority, 478 U.S. 418 (1987). The plaintiffs had claimed that their housing authority had not been granting them a reasonable utility allowance to which they were entitled under the Brooke Amendment and its implementing regulations. The issue was whether that entitlement was a "right" that could be enforced pursuant to 42 U.S.C.A. ' 1983 (West Supp. 1997). In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court said it was. Relying upon Wright, the lower courts soon thereafter began opening up their doors to public and assisted housing tenants.

Zinermon v. Burch,
494 U.S. 113 (1990)

Key Issue"[T]he very nature of mental illness makes it forseeable that a person needing mental health care will be unable to understand any proferred 'explanation and disclosure of the subject matter' of the forms that person is asked to sign, and will be unable to make 'knowing and wilful decision' whether to consent to admission."



Defendant has continually sought to avoid a presentation in this matter based upon the facts and seeks now to dismiss plaintiff’s Amended Complaint which has been submitted in accordance with the prior direction of this Court. The question is whether in this matter, commenced under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983, there is any type of heightened standard of pleading.

See the filing

Institute for Criminal Justice Education, Inc. (ICJE)

The Eighth Amendment and Medical Related Section 1983 Claims
Monica E. Jayroe, J.D., Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Faulkner University

  A Bivens action is a civil lawsuit filed by an inmate against the officials or entities having custody of him. These suits are filed under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983, and are steadily increasing in number each year. These suits are filed in the civil division of the federal court having jurisdiction over the prisoner, and all allege a violation of the inmate's civil rights in one form or another. Many Section 1983 suits pertain to a violation of the inmate's Eighth Amendment Rights through the delay or denial of medical treatment. Specifically, the inmate filing the lawsuit alleges that during incarceration, he or she was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment via the delay or denial of medical treatment.

By Jacquelyn Kuhens Senior Legal Instructor

Intentional Violations of Miranda: A Strategy for Liability
By Kimberly A. Crawford, J.D.
Special Agent Crawford is a legal instructor at the FBI Academy
Intentional Miranda violations may jeopardize cases and expose investigators and agencies to civil suits.

The CPS violates these in EVERY CASE


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