Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York

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Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued November 2, 1977
Decided June 6, 1978
Full case name Jane Monell et al., Petitioners, v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York et al.
Citations 436 U.S. 658 (more)
98 S. Ct. 2018, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611; 1978 U.S. LEXIS 100
Holding
Municipalities can be held liable for violations of Constitutional rights through 42 U.S.C. §1983 actions.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Warren E. Burger
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan Jr. · Potter Stewart
Byron White · Thurgood Marshall
Harry Blackmun · Lewis F. Powell Jr.
William Rehnquist · John P. Stevens
Case opinions
Majority Brennan, joined by Stewart, White, Marshall, Blackmun, and Powell.
Concurrence Powell
Concurrence Stevens
Dissent Rehnquist, joined by Burger
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. XIV, Civil Rights Act of 1871 § 1
This case overturned a previous ruling or rulings
Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167 (1961) (in part)

Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978),[1] is an opinion given by the United States Supreme Court in which the Court overrules Monroe v. Pape in holding that a local government is a "person" subject to suit under Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code: civil action for deprivation of rights.[2]

Facts

The case began in July 1971 as a challenge to the New York City Board of Education's forced maternity leave policies. In a different lawsuit in 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that cities were liable for damages under the Civil Rights Act. Following the decision, the city settled for $375,500, to be divided among all women employees placed on forced maternity leave from July 1968 to the time of the case being filed. The city increased the money available for compensations to $11 million after an unexpectedly large response from women to notices announcing the settlement. The claims were paid in the fall of 1981.[3]

Judgment

The United States Supreme Court held that a local government is a "person" that can be sued under Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code: civil action for deprivation of rights.[2]

Significance

This resolution created a precedent that for the first time established local government monetary accountability for unconstitutional acts and created the right to obtain damages from municipalities in such cases.

Discussion

Monell is not always absolute. For example, the eleventh circuit recognizes that "police departments are not usually considered legal entities subject to suit."[4]However, the Barber court instructed that "capacity to sue or be sued shall be determined by the law of the state in which the district court is held."[5]. By way of example, Florida courts have consistently found that city police departments are not entities capable of suit.[6][7][8][9].

Therefore, as demonstrated above by way of example, the effects of Monell have been diluted over time, to the extent that Monell in and of itself does not necessarily impart the ability to name a government entity as a 1983 action.

References

  1. ^ Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978).
  2. ^ a b 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
  3. ^ "Monell v. Department of Social Services: Synopsis & Description". Center for Constitutional Rights. 
  4. ^ Dean v. Barber, 951 F.2d 1210, 1214 (11th Cir. 1992).
  5. ^ Dean v. Barber, quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(b).
  6. ^ Blandin v. Cnty. of Charlotte, No. 2:07-cv-691-FtM-29DNF, 2009 WL 2634419, at *4 (M.D. Fla. Aug 24, 2009)
  7. ^ Faulkner v. Monroe Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 523 F. App'x. 696, 700-01 (11th Cir. 2013).
  8. ^ Williams v. Miami-Dade Police Dep't., 297 F. App'x. 941, 945 (11th Cir. 2008).
  9. ^ Mann v. Hillsborough Cnty. Sheriff's Office, 946 F. Supp. 962, 970-71 (M.D. Fla. 1996).

External links

  • Text of Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978) is available from:  Cornell  CourtListener  Findlaw  Justia  Oyez 
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