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Civil Rights Action Based on False Accusations of Child Molestation

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By FindLaw Staff on May 17, 2010 12:44 PM

Nikolas v. Omaha, No. 09-1679, concerned an action against the City of Omaha and its Planning Department Code Inspector, asserting federal constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 and an inverse condemnation claim under state law.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant, on the grounds that 1) the practical effect of plaintiff's argument -- that neither the County nor the City had jurisdiction to take action against a serious health and safety hazard on his property -- was contrary to manifest legislative intent; 2) the alleged littering was prohibited by the city ordinance at issue long prior to its occurrence; 3) if action taken pursuant to the ordinance violated Fourth Amendment warrant requirements, the resulting criminal prosecution may be tainted, but that does not render the authorizing statute unconstitutional; and 4) an inspector who was lawfully on the premises and who saw an apparent public health and safety violation from the exterior of a detached structure did not need a warrant before looking in the window to confirm or refute the apparent violation.

White v. McKinley, No. 09-1945, involved a civil rights action challenging plaintiff's prosecution, conviction, re-prosecution, and eventual acquittal for the alleged molestation of his adopted daughter.  The court of appeals affirmed judgment for plaintiff, on the grounds that 1) defendant was not permitted to relitigate the issue of qualified immunity; 2) defendant failed to offer any actual evidence -- expert or otherwise -- that plaintiff, a convicted child molester, would have been released on bond pending his re-trial; 3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in prohibiting defendant from eliciting testimony from the prosecutor in plaintiff's case as to whether defendant had testified correctly during his deposition, as the jury heard defendant's own testimony that he believed that he had testified correctly; and 4) the punitive damages award amounted to approximately seven percent of the actual damages, and thus there was no plain error in the punitive damages award.

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