Findlaw Case Summaries: Constitutional Law 41

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November 8-12 2010.

United States First Circuit, 11/12/2010
Freedom from Religion Found. v. Hanover Sch. Dist., No. 09-2473
In plaintiffs’ suit seeking a declaration that the federal Pledge statute and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in New Hampshire’s public schools violates various provisions of the U.S. Constitution, the New Hampshire Constitution, and federal and state law, district court’s dismissal of all of plaintiffs’ federal claims on their merits is affirmed as the New Hampshire School Patriot Act and the voluntary, teacher-led recitation of the Pledge by the state’s public school students do not violate the Constitution. .

United States Sixth Circuit, 11/09/2010
McCarthy v. City of Cleveland, No. 09-4149
In plaintiffs’ 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against the City of Cleveland, claiming that the city’s decision to enforce its traffic camera ordinance against drivers who lease their cars constituted an unconstitutional taking of private property without just compensation because the ordinance originally did not provide for lessee liability, district court’s dismissal of the suit for failure to state a cause of action under the Takings Clause of either the United States or Ohio Constitution is affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded where: 1) plaintiffs have failed to plead a cause of action under the Takings Clause as the challenged ordinance does not seize or otherwise impair an identifiable fund of money; but 2) the district court’s judgment on plaintiffs’ state law claims is reversed and remanded as the district court did not analyze plaintiffs’ claim which asserted that the city’s enforcement of the traffic camera ordinance unjustly enriched the city. .

United States Sixth Circuit, 11/09/2010
Sykes v. Anderson, No. 08-2088
In plaintiffs’ 42 U.S.C. section 1983 actions against several police officers, asserting claims of false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and denial of due process, and against the City of Detroit claiming that the city failed to respond to citizen complaints and that it failed to train and supervise its employees, following their overturned convictions for state crimes of “Larceny by Conversion” and “False Report of a Felony,” jury verdict in favor of the plaintiffs on their claims against two police officers and award of over $2.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages is affirmed in part and remanded in part where: 1) defendants’ qualified immunity claim is waived as their failure to make a pre-verdict motion for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50(a) on the grounds of qualified immunity precluded them from making a post-verdict motion under Rule 50(b) on that ground; 2) district court’s judgment as to plaintiffs’ claim of false arrest is affirmed because probable cause was lacking at the time the officer submitted a warrant application; 3) judgment against the defendants as to the plaintiffs’ claims for malicious prosecution is affirmed as the record contains ample evidence that the officer influenced or participated in the ultimate decision to prosecute plaintiffs by way of his knowing misstatements to the prosecutor; 4) judgment against the defendants as to the plaintiffs’ due-process claims is affirmed; 5) district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendants’ motion for a new trial; and 6) because the district court failed to articulate a basis for its denial of the defendants’ motion for remittitur, the matter is remanded for the sole purpose of having the district court explain its reasons for denying remittitur
United States Seventh Circuit, 11/10/2010
Cyrus v. Town of Mukwonago, No. 09-2331
In plaintiffs’ 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against a town, a lieutenant, and other defendants, claiming that their son’s death was caused by the use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, district court’s grant of defendants’ motion for summary judgment is reversed as there are material facts in dispute about the extent to which the deceased attempted to evade the officers and the how many times the officer tasered the deceased to bring about his arrest.

United States Eighth Circuit, 11/12/2010
Doe v. Todd Cty. Sch. Dist., No. 09-3221
In an action claiming that defendant school officials violated plaintiff’s federal procedural due process rights when his Individualized Education Program (IEP) team placed him in an alternative high school setting for thirty-eight days, summary judgment for plaintiff is reversed where plaintiff’s right to procedural due process was limited to the procedures governing the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act decision-maker under 20 U.S.C. section 1415. ..

United States Eighth Circuit, 11/12/2010
Schoelch v. Mitchell, No. 08-2776
In an action by an inmate claiming that defendant officers failed to protect him from another inmate, summary judgment for defendants is affirmed where plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence to establish that he suffered an objectively serious deprivation.

United States Tenth Circuit, 11/09/2010
Porro v. Barnes, No. 10-6002
In an excessive force civil rights action, partial judgment for plaintiff is affirmed where: 1) the due process guarantee was the proper doctrinal prism through which to analyze the claims of federal immigration detainees who did not challenge the lawfulness of their detention but only the force used during that detention; and 2) to create a triable question of fact on the use of excessive force, a plaintiff must do more than show that the defendant county failed to adopt the most protective possible policy against the application of force.

United States Tenth Circuit, 11/09/2010
Sampson v. Buescher, No. 08-1389
In a First Amendment challenge to a Colorado law requiring that any group of two or more persons that had accepted or made contributions or expenditures exceeding $200 to support or oppose a ballot issue must register as an issue committee and report the names and addresses of anyone who contributes $20 or more, summary judgment for defendants is reversed where there was virtually no proper governmental interest in imposing disclosure requirements on ballot-initiative committees that raised and expended so little money, and that limited interest cannot justify the burden that those requirements imposed on such a committee.

California Court of Appeal, 11/09/2010
Wong v. Jing, No. H034059
In a pediatric dentist’s suit against defendants, husband and wife, and the Web site, based on allegedly false assertions contained in a review posted on Yelp that criticized the dental services the plaintiff had provided to the couple’s son, trial court’s denial of defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion to strike plaintiff’s claims is reversed where: 1) the review was not just a highly critical opinion of plaintiff’s performance on particular occasions, but it was also part of a public discussion and dissemination of information on issues of public interest; 2) there is no evidence, admissible or otherwise, suggesting that the wife had anything to do with the review and its posting; and 3) although the trial court properly denied the anti-SLAPP motion as it applied to the libel claim, plaintiff failed to make a prima facie showing of probable success on her action for intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress because the evidence of her response to the posting does not constitute “severe” or “serious” emotional distress.

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