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Appeal in Civil Rights Action Claiming Excessive Force By Police

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By FindLaw Staff on June 07, 2010 11:28 AM

Brown v. City of Huntsville, No. 09-12965, involved an action bringing federal and state claims for false arrest and excessive force by the police.  The court of appeals affirmed in part the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants on the basis of qualified immunity and state-law immunity, holding that: 1) plaintiff's actions in playing loud music, stopping her car, and rolling her window down could have indicated to an objectively reasonable officer at the scene that plaintiff was making unreasonable noise with intent to create public annoyance; and 2) the district court did not err in granting qualified immunity to certain defendants because they did not participate in plaintiff's arrest and were not defendant-officer's supervisors.  However, the Eleventh Circuit reversed in part, on the ground that a reasonable jury could conclude that defendant's actions in effecting the arrest constituted excessive force.

As the court wrote:  "In this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, Plaintiffs-Appellants Joi Brown and Shaun Sonia bring federal and state claims for false arrest and excessive force. Plaintiffs appeal the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Defendants-Appellees - the City of Huntsville, Alabama (the "City"), and two police officers - on the basis of qualified immunity and state-law immunity. After review and oral argument, we affirm in part and reverse in part."

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