Section 1983 Litigation/Preclusion Defenses

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Section 1983 Litigation
Table of Contents
Introduction to § 1983 Litigation
The Statute
Historical Background
Nature of § 1983 Litigation
Right to Trial by Jury
Jury Instructions
Constitutional Claims Against Federal Officials: The Bivens Doctrine
Section 1983 Does Not Encompass Claims Against Federal Officials
The Bivens Claim for Relief
Law Governing Bivens Claims
Elements of Claim, Functional Role, Pleading, and Jurisdiction
Elements of the § 1983 Claim
Functional Role of § 1983
Pleading § 1983 Claims
Federal Court Jurisdiction
State Court Jurisdiction
Section 1983 Plaintiffs
Persons Entitled to Bring Suit Under § 1983
Constitutional Rights Enforceable Under § 1983
Due Process Rights: In General
Procedural Due Process
Substantive Due Process Claims
Use of Force by Government Officials: Sources of Constitutional Protection
Arrests and Searches
Malicious Prosecution Claims Under Fourth Amendment
Conditions-of-Confinement Claims Under Eighth Amendment
First Amendment Claims
Equal Protection “Class-of-One” Claims
Enforcement of Federal Statutes Under § 1983
Enforcement of Federal “Rights”
Specific Comprehensive Scheme Demonstrating Congressional Intent to Foreclose § 1983 Remedy
Current Supreme Court Approach
Enforcement of Federal Regulations Under § 1983
Color of State Law and State Action
State and Local Officials
State Action Tests
Section 1983 Defendants
State Defendants
Interplay of “Person” and Eleventh Amendment Issues
Municipal Defendants
State Versus Municipal Policy Maker
Departments, Offices, and Commissions
Capacity of Claim: Individual Versus Official Capacity
Municipal Liability
Fundamental Principles of § 1983 Municipal Liability
Officially Promulgated Policy
Municipal Policy Makers
Custom or Practice
Inadequate Training
Inadequate Hiring
Pleading Municipal Liability Claims
Liability of Supervisors
Relationship Between Individual and Municipal Liability
Los Angeles v. Heller
If Plaintiff Prevails on Personal-Capacity Claim
“Cost Allocation Scheme”
State Liability: The Eleventh Amendment
Relationship Between Suable § 1983 “Person” and Eleventh Amendment Immunity
Eleventh Amendment Protects State Even When Sued by Citizen of Defendant State
State Liability in § 1983 Actions
Personal-Capacity Claims
Municipal Liability; the Hybrid Entity Problem
Eleventh Amendment Waivers
Eleventh Amendment Appeals
Personal-Capacity Claims: Absolute Immunities
Absolute Versus Qualified Immunity: The Functional Approach
Judicial Immunity
Prosecutorial Immunity
Witness Immunity
Legislative Immunity
Personal Liability: Qualified Immunity
Who May Assert Qualified Immunity? Private Party State Actors
Clearly Established Federal Law
Procedural Aspects of Qualified Immunity
Exhaustion of State Remedies
State Judicial Remedies: Parratt-Hudson Doctrine
Preiser, Heck, and Beyond
State Administrative Remedies; PLRA
Notice of Claim
Preclusion Defenses
State Court Judgments
Administrative Res Judicata
Arbitration Decisions
Statute of Limitations
Limitations Period
Relation Back
Survivorship and Wrongful Death
Wrongful Death
Abstention Doctrines
Pullman Abstention; State Certification Procedure
Younger Abstention
Colorado River Abstention
Burford Abstention
Domestic Relations Doctrine
Tax Injunction Act
Monetary Relief
Nominal and Compensatory Damages
Punitive Damages
Release-Dismissal Agreements
Prison Litigation Reform Act
Attorneys’ Fees
Section 1988 Fee Litigation
Prevailing Parties
Computation of Fee Award: Lodestar Adjustment Method
Other Fee Issues
Model Instructions
Model Instruction 1: Section 1983—Elements of Claim—Action Under Color of State Law
Model Instruction 2: Fourth Amendment Excessive Force Claim
Model Instruction 3: Eighth Amendment Prisoner Excessive Force Claim
Model Instruction 4: Fourth Amendment False Arrest Claim
Model Instruction 5: Municipal Liability—General Instruction
Model Instruction 6: Municipal Liability—Inadequate Training or Supervision
Model Instruction 7: Compensatory Damages
Model Instruction 8: Punitive Damages

State Court Judgments[edit | edit source]

Under the full-faith and credit statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1738, federal courts in § 1983 actions must give state court judgments the same preclusive effect they would receive in state court under state law.[1] This principle controls so long as the federal litigant against whom preclusion is asserted had a full and fair opportunity to litigate his federal claims in state court. A full and fair opportunity to be heard requires only that state judicial procedures meet minimal procedural due process requirements.[2]

The full-faith and credit statute governs even with respect to federal claims asserted by federal court plaintiffs who were involuntary state court litigants, like criminal defendants,[3] and takings claimants who were required to pursue a state court just-compensation remedy in order to satisfy ripeness requirements.[4] Furthermore, § 1738 governs even if the federal court § 1983 claimant has no alternative federal remedy, as when, under Stone v. Powell,[5] a Fourth Amendment claim is not assertable in a federal habeas corpus proceeding.[6] Section 1738 applies to claims that could have been, but were not, litigated in the state court proceeding, if state preclusion law encompasses the doctrine of claim preclusion.[7] The Supreme Court has directed the federal courts not to carve out exceptions to preclusion required by § 1738 in § 1983 actions, even when there may be good policy reasons for doing so.[8]

Administrative Res Judicata[edit | edit source]

In University of Tennessee v. Elliott,[9] the Supreme Court held that an agency’s fact findings may preclude relitigation of the facts in a § 1983 action. “[W]hen a state agency ‘acting in a judicial capacity . . . resolves disputed issues of fact properly before it which the parties have had an adequate opportunity to litigate,’ . . . federal courts must give the agency’s fact finding the same preclusive effect to which it would be entitled in the State’s courts.”[10] The decision in Elliott was not based on the full-faith and credit statute, but on federal common-law preclusion principles.

Arbitration Decisions[edit | edit source]

In McDonald v. City of West Branch,[11] the Supreme Court held that arbitration decisions are not entitled to preclusive effect in § 1983 actions. The Court found that an arbitration proceeding is not a judicial proceeding within the meaning of the full-faith and credit statute. Furthermore, Congress intended § 1983 to be judicially enforced, and arbitration is not an adequate substitute for judicial enforcement.

The Supreme Court has interpreted McDonald narrowly. In 14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett,[12] it upheld the enforceability of a collective bargaining agreement requiring union members to arbitrate their claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. In so doing, it read McDonald as holding that an arbitration decision that was not appealed was not entitled to preclusive effect in a § 1983 action and, further, that “McDonald hinged on the scope of the collective-bargaining agreement and the arbitrator’s parallel mandate.”[13]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. San Remo Hotel v. San Francisco, 545 U.S. 323, 337–38 (2005); Migra v. Warren City Sch. Dist., 465 U.S. 75, 81 (1984); Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 94–95 (1980). See also Haring v. Prosise, 462 U.S. 306, 313–14 (1983).
  2. Kremer v. Chem. Constr. Corp., 456 U.S. 461, 480–81 (1982); Allen, 449 U.S. at 95.
  3. Allen, 449 U.S. at 103–04.
  4. San Remo Hotel, 545 U.S. at 337–38. See supra Chapter 17, § V (Ripeness).
  5. 428 U.S. 465 (1976).
  6. Allen, 449 U.S. at 103–04.
  7. Migra v. Warren City Sch. Dist., 465 U.S. 75, 83–85 (1984).
  8. San Remo Hotel, 545 U.S. at 335.
  9. 478 U.S. 788 (1986).
  10. Id. at 799 (quoting United States v. Utah Constr. Mining Co., 384 U.S. 394, 422 (1966)).
  11. 466 U.S. 284 (1984).
  12. 556 U.S. 247 (2009).
  13. Id. at 263.