Banks v. City of Emeryville case brief summary
109 F.R.D. 535 (N.D. Cal. 1985)
Plaintiffs, decedent's family, filed
suit under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 against defendants, city and
police chief, arising from decedent's death during a fire in
decedent's cell in a temporary detention facility. Defendants sought
indemnification or contribution from third party defendants,
manufacturer, distributor, and seller of the burned mattress in
decedent's jail cell. The third party defendants sought judgment on
CASE FACTS Defendants contended that the fire in
the decedent's cell was a suicide in which she lit herself and her
cell mattress on fire and that the mattress was dangerous and
defective in allowing the fire to spread quickly. The third party
defendants claimed that the defendants were attempting to seek
indemnity based directly on § 1983.
The court held that because
the third party defendants did not act under color of state law, they
could not be found to have violated § 1983 and claims for
indemnification thereunder were impermissible.
However, the court
found that because it was possible that a jury could decide that
tortious acts of the third party defendants were at least in part
responsible for the decedent's death, impleader was appropriate
under Fed. R. Civ. P. 14 on state law causes of action.
CONCLUSION The court denied the third party
defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings, except as to the
defendants' claim for relief under § 1983, which was dismissed.
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