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Failure to Train and Supervise

November 9, 2016

A federal court dismissed a lawsuit against an Alabama city in which the plaintiff claimed that the city had violated his constitutional rights by failing to properly train and supervise its police officers in making arrests, conducting searches and seizures, using force while making arrests, and providing medical care to arrestees. Two of the city’s police officers made a traffic stop of the plaintiff for his failure to obey a traffic signal and because the plaintiff’s vehicle matched that of a vehicle involved in a recent attempted armed robbery. During the traffic stop, the plaintiff, after repeated commands by the officers to show his hands, hid one hand from the officers and used his other hand to toss away bags of heroin and marijuana. To gain control of the plaintiff and stop his destruction of the evidence, one of the officers tased the plaintiff, following which the plaintiff physically resisted his arrest. After the officers effectuated the arrest, the plaintiff was transported to the city’s jail, where he claimed his requests for medical attention were ignored. The plaintiff sought compensatory and punitive damages against the city, in addition to other monetary and non-monetary relief. The court, however, concluded that the plaintiff’s allegations failed to plausibly establish a constitutional violation by the city. Terry Sides litigated the case for the Firm. He argued the plaintiff had failed to show the existence of the required established custom or practice of similar conduct by the city’s police officers which would or should have put the city on notice of a need to provide more training to its officers. The court agreed and dismissed the lawsuit against the city, but nevertheless allowed the plaintiff to amend his complaint to state viable claims against the city. The Firm argued the plaintiff’s new complaint was no better than his first one, and the court once again agreed, this time dismissing all claims against the city with prejudice.

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