Qualified Immunity Shields Employer From Liability For Illegal Dropbox Search

Steven Bowers was a sergeant for the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department in Wisconsin. In 2017, the Department started working with a television show called Cold Justice, a true-crime series that investigated unsolved crimes. The Department gave the crew members access to one case file, but Bowers began sharing other case files with them, even though he did not have permission to do so. After Bowers admitted what he had…

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Fire Chief Not Entitled Qualified Immunity

Qualified immunity shields gov­ernment officials performing discre­tionary tasks from civil liability insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known. For a right to be “clearly established,” the unlawfulness of the defendants’ conduct must be apparent based on then-existing law. When analyzing qualified immunity claims, courts begin by asking whether the facts make out a violation of…

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Seizure Of CO’s Personal Guns Does Not Violate Law

Andre Anderson is a Corrections Officer with the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC). On July 25, 2020, Anderson was driving home when he was rear-ended by another motorist who fled the accident scene when Anderson insisted that they exchange insurance information. Anderson pursued the occupants of the departing vehicle, first by car and then on foot, eventually drawing his registered personal firearm, identifying himself as a police officer, and ordering a passenger to get…

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Officer Loses Cell Phone Claim To Qualified Immunity

In the public discussion about the principle of “qualified immunity” virtually no mention is made of the fact that qualified immunity bars many lawsuits by public employees alleging constitutional violations by their employers. A recent case out of Ohio provides a good illustration of how qualified immunity works in an employment context. The case involved Jeffrey Lazar, a Columbus police officer. His girlfriend was an officer in the same…

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