Sunday, November 24, 2013

Gomez v. Toledo case brief

Gomez v. Toledo case brief summary
446 U.S. 635 (1980)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Petitioner police officer sought review of the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit which affirmed the dismissal of his 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 claim against respondent, the Superintendent of Police of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, ruling that because respondent was entitled to qualified immunity, petitioner was required to plead that respondent was motivated by bad faith in committing the alleged actions.

CASE FACTS
Petitioner police officer was charged with the illegal wiretapping of police agents' telephones. Respondent, the Superintendent of Police of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, suspended petitioner and discharged him without a hearing. Petitioner brought a 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 action against respondent. The district court granted respondent's Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6)motion, observing that respondent was entitled to qualified immunity for acts in the scope of his official duties performed in good faith, and that petitioner did not plead that respondent was motivated by bad faith. The court of appeals affirmed.

DISCUSSION

  • On appeal, the court reversed the judgment dismissing petitioner's 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 action. 
  • The court held that by the plain language of the statute, petitioner, as a § 1983 plaintiff, needed only to allege that he was deprived of a federal right and that respondent, the person who deprived him of it, did so under color of state law. 
  • Because qualified immunity was a defense, the burden of pleading it rested with respondent, and that there was no basis for imposing an obligation on petitioner to anticipate the defense by alleging that respondent acted in bad faith.
CONCLUSION
The court reversed the judgment in favor of respondent, Superintendent of Police of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and against petitioner, police officer, holding that by alleging that his discharge violated his right to procedural due process and that respondent acted under color of Puerto Rican law, petitioner satisfied his burden of pleading.

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