Case Law Alerts
Municipal claim can survive under § 1983 even though a plaintiff fails to sufficiently allege an underlying constitutional violation.
The District Court dismissed all of the plaintiff’s 42 U.S.C. §1983 claims against the individual defendants and the City of Newark, finding that he had not adequately pled Fourth Amendment violations or a custom of warrantless searches and false arrests. The Third Circuit reversed, finding that, while the plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege a cause of action against the individual defendants, he had alleged sufficient facts to maintain a Monell cause of action against the City of Newark for a custom or practice and for a failure to train and supervise theory of liability. The majority considered documents attached to and referenced in the amended complaint when determining the sufficiency of the municipal claim. The dissent argued that the majority improperly considered documents not attached to the amended complaint to interject additional facts to support the survival of the claim.
This opinion has two practical effects going forward. A municipal claim can survive under § 1983 even though a plaintiff fails to sufficiently allege an underlying constitutional violation. Additionally, the courts may consider documents attached to a motion to dismiss, but not attached to the complaint, to determine whether sufficient facts exist to survive a motion to dismiss.
Case Law Alerts, 2nd Quarter, April 2019
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