US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Opinions
Opinion Date: March 29, 2021
Hon. Judge Pooler
Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law
MARCH 28, 2021 — The Second Circuit vacated the district court’s grant of summary judgment to defendants in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging excessive force under 42 U.S.C. 1983, as well as state law assault and battery claims. The court found that the district court improperly resolved factual disputes in favor of defendants at the summary judgment stage. In this case, the district court’s recitation of the facts elided crucial distinctions between the testimony of the three parties to the encounter. The court explained that, while the officers testified to using a reasonable amount of force to restrain an uncooperative individual matching the description of a suspect, plaintiff testified to an aggressive assault, pleas for help, and a spiteful effort to punish a confused citizen by deliberately slamming his head into the patrol car’s exterior as punishment for his confusion. Therefore, the court concluded that it is for a jury and not a judge to decide which of these versions of events is accurate, and qualified immunity would not protect the deliberate infliction of injury suggested by plaintiff’s testimony. However, the court did not find that reassignment to another judge was necessary absent any reason to find that the district court would not accept the court’s remand and any grounds to reassign the case. The court remanded for further proceedings.
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