Los Angeles Cty. v. Humphries, No. 09-350 - U.S. Supreme Court
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Los Angeles Cty. v. Humphries, No. 09-350

"Policy or Custom" Requirement Always Applies in Section 1983 Cases

In Los Angeles Cty. v. Humphries, No. 09-350, an action under 42 U.S.C. section 1983, seeking damages, an injunction, and a declaration that public officials and defendant Los Angeles County had deprived plaintiffs of their constitutional rights by failing to create a mechanism through which they could contest inclusion in a "child abuse index," the court reversed the Ninth Circuit's reversal of summary judgment for defendants where Monell's "policy or custom" requirement applies in section 1983 cases irrespective of whether the relief sought is monetary or prospective.

As the court wrote:  "The Humphries (hereinafter respondents) were accused of child abuse in California, but were later exonerated. However, under California law, their names were added to a Child Abuse Central Index (Index), where they would remain available to various state agencies for at least 10 years. The statute has no procedures for allowing individuals to challenge their inclusion in the Index, and neither California nor Los Angeles County has created such procedures. Respondents filed suit under §1983, seeking damages, an injunction, and a declaration that public officials and petitioner Los Angeles County had deprived them of their constitutional rights by failing to create a mechanism through which they could contest inclusion in the Index."

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