A recent article from Law360 Access to Justice explores the First Circuit decision to recognize a carve-out exception to qualified immunity protections for government officials. The doctrine allows a woman to pursue claims that two detectives’ mishandling of her rape case led to a subsequent attack on her and the killing of her boyfriend.
The following is an excerpt:
In a Nov. 5 decision, a First Circuit panel ruled that a lower court erred by granting Maine State Police detectives qualified immunity from claims their actions violated Brittany Irish’s due process rights after she reported being raped. Irish alleged that the detectives left a voicemail on her assailant’s phone without first trying to locate him. She claimed they then failed to protect her and others close to her in the face of “escalating threats” of violence from the assailant after the police call.
The First Circuit adopted a legal doctrine on “state-created danger” saying “officers may be held liable for failing to protect plaintiffs from danger created or enhanced by their affirmative act.” The doctrine holds state actors could be liable if they “acted affirmatively” to create or enhance danger and that the conduct “shocks the conscience.”
The appeals court had not previously recognized the doctrine but concluded in Irish’s case that “a consensus of persuasive authority” from other circuits was enough to establish the state-created danger doctrine as law. Nine circuit courts have now recognized the doctrine.
Read the full article here.