In 2015, RJA secured the dismissal of a civil rights claim brought against the Chief of Police for the City of Fall River. The plaintiff in the action accused a Fall River police officer of raping her while the officer was on duty, and the claim against the Chief of Police was that the Chief had failed to supervise or discipline the officer appropriately in the past, leading to the officer’s commission of the sexual assault.
After losing with respect to her claim against the Chief before the District Court, the plaintiff appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. At the First Circuit, the plaintiff alleged that the Chief violated her federal civil rights because he had failed to take appropriate action with respect to eleven prior disciplinary incidents of the police officer and that those incidents should have placed the Chief on notice of the officer’s propensity for misconduct.
After briefing and oral argument, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment in favor of the Chief of Police, concluding that the officer’s prior disciplinary history did not include any items that reasonably could have placed the Chief on notice of the potential for violent or sexual misconduct. As a result, the First Circuit held, the federal civil rights claim against the Chief properly was dismissed.
RESULT: Judgment in favor of the Chief affirmed.
RJA Counsel: Andrew J. Gambaccini