Figuring Out Who Can Sue
You must have standing
First, you need to figure out whether you have the right to file a lawsuit against the person or business you have a dispute with. To file a lawsuit in court, you have to be someone directly affected by the legal dispute you are suing about. In legal terms, this is called having standing to file the lawsuit.
For example, in a case for personal injury, you have to be the one to have actually suffered the injury in the accident. You cannot just be a person who was standing nearby and sue the person who caused the accident if you did not suffer any damages.
In the cases this website deals with, standing to sue is very clear. A landlord can sue a tenant to evict him or her. One spouse can take the other one to court for divorce. A customer can sue the store that sold her a broken camera for reimbursement. A parent can take another parent to court for custody of the children.
If you do not have a clear connection to the lawsuit you want to file, talk to a lawyer to make sure you have the legal right to sue in that case.
You must be a natural person or a legal entity
Only an actual legal entity may start a lawsuit.
You must have legal capacity
A person must have the legal capacity to be a party to a lawsuit.
Someone with a legal disability can generally only file lawsuits through a legal representative, like a parent, a guardian, a trustee, or an executor.
Some people considered to have a legal disability are:
Most Common Types Of Misconduct Claims
In order to answer the question, “Can I sue the police department for violating my rights?”you need to understand what types of actions the police are allowed to do and are not allowed to do. This will give you the opportunity to come forward with any evidence while it is fresh in your mind and present it to your lawyer when you intend to sue for police misconduct. Certain types of police misconduct cases are more common than others and due to the existing case law and previous interpretations of these kinds of suits, you have a greater chance of being successful in these claims by understanding them.
Harassment is one of the most common types of misconduct claims because this includes a pattern of behavior on the part of the officers or the entire department, such as surveilling or spying on you illegally, making racist, homophobic, or sexist comments, or racial profiling. It is very important to understand the specific circumstances of what happened and what was said or done to you because this information will come up as evidence. A second common type of police violation is a 4th amendment violation.
Before Making A Claim
For your lawsuit against the police to be successful, the police must have done something to you that is against the law. In civil court, a wrongful act is called a tort.
For example, you may be able to make a claim for:
- wrongful arrest and detention
- assault and battery
- negligent use of force
You must be able to tell the judge how the facts of your case show that the police did something to you that is against the law.
You have to prove your case on a balance of probabilities. This means you have to show the judge that your story is more believable than what the police say happened.
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Complaints Filed Prior To October 19 2009
Complaints filed prior to October 19, 2009 were made to the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services. The Commission will continue to deal with these complaints until they are concluded. Although current complaints will be made to the OIPRD, if you wish to file a complaint for events occurring before October 19, 2009, you must file with the Commission or with the chief of police of the police service involved. If you file with the Commission, it will forward your complaint to the chief of police of the police service involved for review and investigation.
Assault Battery Or Trespass Against The Person
In general, these torts are when someone:
Uses force against you
In many systems, there is no minimum threshold of force that has to be used, but this will be relevant to the level of compensation you receive.
- When a police officer arrests you, it is clear that a degree of force will have been used .
The use of force was intentional
The police officer must have intended to use force. Usually, this will not be an issue.
The use of force must be unlawful
This is what liability will turn on. Once you have proven the above elements, the burden is on the police to show they have have acted within the scope of their police powers. If they can show this, there will be no liability .
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No Threats To Arrest Everyone
Officersmay also be prohibited by state law from taking certain actions wheninvestigating domestic violence allegations. Alabama law, for example,forbids an officer from threatening to arrest everyone involved in adomestic violence complaint for the purpose of discouraging the victimfrom asking for police assistance. The statute also prohibits an officerfrom basing the decision to arrest on the victim’s permission orrequest, nor can the arrest decision be based on a victim’s or witness’swillingness to testify in court. Other stateshave similar statutes that prohibit officers from taking actions thatmight hinder or block an appropriate investigation and prosecution ofdomestic violence offenses.
Bomb Threats By Telephone
If you receive a bomb threat over the telephone, Ready.gov provides the following information on what to do:
- Get as much information from the caller as possible. Try to ask the following questions:
- When is the bomb going to explode?
- Where is it right now?
- What does it look like?
- What kind of bomb is it?
- What will cause it to explode?
- Did you place the bomb?
The Department of Homeland Security also provides a helpful telephone bomb threat checklist.
Get more information on what to do if you receive a bomb threat or find a suspicious item.
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What Are My Civil Rights Protections Under The Law
Section 1983 of the Act prohibitsthe police from violating another persons civil rights. Other provisions ofstate law add to those protections. An individual whose rights have been abusedby a policeman or other government official may have a cause of action underSection 1983 against both the policeman or official that caused the abuse andthe local government entity that employs the policeman.
Support For The Lawsuit
Brian Stewart, another attorney representing the family, said the Petito family believes it is important to hold government institutions responsible for failures like this.
A prepared statement from Stewart lists “obvious indicators of abuse” that if the officers were trained properly would have shown them Gabby Petito needed protection including:
- The 911 caller reported seeing Brian Laundrie slapping Gabby and chasing her up and down the sidewalk.
- Gabby told officers Laundrie had grabbed her face and left a gash on her cheek with his nail. The law firm said photos show blood smeared on her cheek and left eye, not visible on body camera footage, showing she was possibly grabbed in a way that would restrict her airway.
- She had marks on her arm and reported he had grabbed her arm.
A notice of the intent to file a lawsuit was sent on Friday to Moab police, the mayor of Moab, the Utah attorney general and others. It said the lawsuit will claim the police and other individuals negligently failed to understand and enforce the law and investigate Laundrie’s claims. Petito’s parents and their current spouses also intend to file wrongful death claims in the lawsuit, alleging that her death occurred because of Moab officers’ actions.
The letter said Petito spoke with her parents during police interviews, and her parents demanded she fly home and get away from Laundrie, but learning the police were involved helped her parents accept Petito’s assurances that she should stay.
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The Officer Acted Under Color Of Law
There are two elements of a Section 1983 excessive force claim. The first is that the police officer acted under âcolor of law.” This means that at the time they used excessive force, the officer was acting with power granted to them by a local government. In other words, they essentially were enforcing a law at the time they used force.
In determining whether an officer was enforcing the law, a court will look at all of the circumstances, including whether the officer:
- Was on duty at the time
- Was in their uniform
- Told you they were a police officer
- Used police-issued equipment
Complaints To Police Departments
If the Providence Police are involved, you can get a formal hearing by making a written complaint. The complaint will be reviewed by the Providence Police Internal Review Board. A complaint form can also be picked up at the Providence Human Relations Commission at City Hall: 11 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI 02903. Call 421-7740 for hours. In addition to providing the complaint forms, the PHRC may also investigate your complaint and provide representation for the hearing before the Internal Review Board.
If another police department is involved, you can submit a formal complaint by calling the department.
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What Is The Petito Family Claiming In Their Lawsuit
Gabby’s parents have retained the Parker and McConkie law firm in Utah to handle the case. The firm in 2020 successfully represented the family of Lauren McCluskey, a 21-year-old University of Utah student who repeatedly asked for help from campus police before a 37-year-old man shot her outside her dorm in 2018. That case resulted in a $13.5 million settlement with the school.
In the lawsuit against Moab police, attorneys shared images of Gabby from the officers’ body camera footage and recapped the statement she made.
For one, Gabby was heard telling the officers, “He, like grabbed me with his nail and I guess that’s why it looksdefinitely I was cut right here because I can feel it. When I touch it, it burns.”
Screenshot from body camera footage showing Gabby Petito describe an altercation between her and Brian Laundrie.
When asked about marks on her skin, she also told the officer Brian grabbed her arm.
In the wrongful death lawsuit, attorneys circled an area where marks were left on Gabby Petito’s arm, they said. The original image was captured on Moab City police body camera footage.
“An additional photo taken at the time, which has not yet been released publicly, showed a close-up view of Gabby’s face where blood is smeared on her cheek and left eye,” according to the lawsuit. “The photo shows that Gabby’s face was grabbed across her nose and mouth, potentially restricting her airway.”
What Steps Can You Take To Prepare A Harassment Lawsuit Against The Police
Before you file a harassmentlawsuit against the police, you should take a few preparatory steps.
- Determineif you can file a grievance directly with the police or a government authoritythat has authority over the police. In New York, for example, almost 4,500separate grievances were filed against the police in 2017. Contact an attorneythat has experience in pursuing police harassment lawsuits for help in filinggrievances properly. Even if you do not have grounds to file a lawsuitimmediately, your grievance may begin to establish a pattern of harassments.
- Preserveall evidence of the circumstances that reflect police harassment. Remember thatmany police officers wear body cameras, and that your evidence may bechallenged by body camera and other surveillance video of the harassment event.
- Retainan attorney as soon as is possible to review your case. You might need tocomply with shorter statutes of limitations and other procedural rules to filea valid lawsuit against the police.
What damages can you recover
As recently as 2014, New York City paid an annual aggregate of $45 million in damages for police misconduct allegations. If you do have a valid lawsuit for police harassment, your damages will be a function of any property losses and injuries that flowed from the harassment. Your attorney will explain if damages are available for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses. Related: How To Sue a City for Harassment
How To Legally Act Against Police Brutality And Misconduct
This content about Police Brutality was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice. For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.
It seems like every other day there is a new high-profile case involving some form of police brutality or misconduct in the United States. While most police officers take their jobs very seriously displaying ethical behavior in accordance with their codes of conduct and the law, it is an unfortunate fact that this is not always the case.
Police officers are not above the law, however, and recent changes in California state laws have made it more difficult for cops to get away with actions such as unreasonable use of deadly force. If you suspect you were a victim of police brutality, or if youve lost a loved at the hands of overzealous law enforcement officers, you should know that there are plenty of legal options you can pursue.
False Arrest And Imprisonment
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that a person has the right to be free from unreasonable seizures. This amendment applies to false arrest cases. A law enforcement officer may not arrest someone there is probable cause to believe that the person committed a crime.
False arrest occurs when your freedom of movement or your ability to leave a place is taken away from you. There must be reasonable suspicion to stop you or take you into police custody. An officer cannot arrest a person and come up with a reason for the arrest at a later time. If this happened, you may have the right to sue for a false arrest.
Examples of false arrests include making up false charges, racial profiling. Also referred to as a wrongful arrest, victims can sue the police department for recoverable damages in a false arrest lawsuit. The amount of damages is based upon a number of factors, including the basis used for the false arrest and the impact of the arrest on a persons life.
False imprisonment is when a person was unlawfully taken into police custody. There must be a legitimate reason to bring someone in for questioning or for temporary jailing. False imprisonment can be for a short time and does not have to be for lengthy incarceration.
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How To Reduce Risk To Yourself
- Stop the car in a safe place as quickly as possible.
- Turn off the car, turn on the internal light, open the window part way, and place your hands on the wheel. If youre in the passenger seat, put your hands on the dashboard.
- Upon request, show police your drivers license, registration, and proof of insurance.
- Avoid making sudden movements, and keep your hands where the officer can see them.
Can You Sue The Salt Lake City Police Department
Police misconduct is becoming a hot topic in Utah and across the nation. Police misconduct can take many forms and can result in an innocent individual becoming a victim of unwarranted violence and rights violations. Victims of misconduct have the right to sue the police department to protect their civil rights. If you or a family member was a victim of police misconduct, you should speak with an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer. Criminal attorney and civil rights lawyer Darwin Overson has over 16 years of experience that he will use to help you fight your claim. Overson Law is here to explain how you can sue the Salt Lake City police department.
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Police Misconduct In Colorado How To Bring A Lawsuit
Police Misconduct in Colorado How to Bring a Lawsuit
Victims of police misconduct, excessive force, or racial profiling in Colorado can file civil rights lawsuits demanding money damages and an injunction to change policing policies. The offending police officers can also be disciplined, fired, decertified, and/or prosecuted for a crime.
About The Civil Rights Division
We protect your rights through:
We sue or prosecute individuals and organizations who violate civil rights laws.
You can help us do this work by reporting a possible civil rights violation through our online form.
We help the entire federal government work together to enforce these laws.
Our teams work with other agencies to promote a consistent approach to civil rights laws.
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Filing A Criminal Complaint
Federal laws that govern police misconduct include both criminal and civil statutes. It is a crime for a person to deprive another of any rights protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States while acting under color of law . These laws cover forms of police brutality such as excessive use of force, sexual assault, willful false arrest, fabrication of evidence, among others.
Since these are criminal statutes, an officer may face fines or imprisonment. Nonetheless, you cannot file these actions on your own and criminal charges against officers are rare. Prosecutors will only tend to take the case if the misconduct or form of police brutality was outrageous and if they believe that there is damning evidence that can lead to a conviction.