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How Respondeat Superior Works


6 Factors

(1) the supervisory official participated directly in the alleged constitutional violation;

(2) the supervisory official - after being informed of the violation - failed to remedy the wrong;

(3) the supervisory official created a policy/custom under which unconstitutional practices occurred;

(4) the supervisory official allowed the continuance of an unconstitutional policy/custom;

(5) the supervisory official was grossly negligent in supervising subordinates who committed the wrongful acts; or;

(6) the supervisory official exhibited deliberate indifference to the rights of others by failing to act on information indicating that constitutional acts were occurring.

I. Definitions

Respondeat Superior
"Lat.: let the superior reply. This doctrine is invoked when there is a master-servant relationship between two parties. The premise is that when an employer (master) is acting through the facility of an employee or agent (servant), and tort liability is incurred during the course of this agency because of some fault of the agent, then the employer or master must accept the responsibility. Implicit is the common law notion that everyone must conduct his or her affairs without injuring another, whether or not he or she employs agents or servants. See scope of employment. Compare vicarious liabilty."

II. Legal Citations

42 USC §1983 | Civil Action for Deprivation of Rights
"Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia." 42 USC §1985 | Conspiracy to Interfere with Civil Rights
(3) Depriving persons of rights or privileges
If two or more persons in any State or Territory conspire or go in disguise on the highway or on the premises of another, for the purpose of depriving, either directly or indirectly, any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws; or for the purpose of preventing or hindering the constituted authorities of any State or Territory from giving or securing to all persons within such State or Territory the equal protection of the laws; or if two or more persons conspire to prevent by force, intimidation, or threat, any citizen who is lawfully entitled to vote, from giving his support or advocacy in a legal manner, toward or in favor of the election of any lawfully qualified person as an elector for President or Vice President, or as a Member of Congress of the United States; or to injure any citizen in person or property on account of such support or advocacy; in any case of conspiracy set forth in this section, if one or more persons engaged therein do, or cause to be done, any act in furtherance of the object of such conspiracy, whereby another is injured in his person or property, or deprived of having and exercising any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States, the party so injured or deprived may have an action for the recovery of damages occasioned by such injury or deprivation, against any one or more of the conspirators.
42 USC §1986 | Action for Neglect to Prevent
Every person who, having knowledge that any of the wrongs conspired to be done, and mentioned in section 1985 of this title, are about to be committed, and having power to prevent or aid in preventing the commission of the same, neglects or refuses so to do, if such wrongful act be committed, shall be liable to the party injured, or his legal representatives, for all damages caused by such wrongful act, which such person by reasonable diligence could have prevented; and such damages may be recovered in an action on the case; and any number of persons guilty of such wrongful neglect or refusal may be joined as defendants in the action; and if the death of any party be caused by any such wrongful act and neglect, the legal representatives of the deceased shall have such action therefor, and may recover not exceeding $5,000 damages therein, for the benefit of the widow of the deceased, if there be one, and if there be no widow, then for the benefit of the next of kin of the deceased. But no action under the provisions of this section shall be sustained which is not commenced within one year after the cause of action has accrued. (R.S. § 1981.)

III. Case Law

# Case
1Back v Hastings, 365 F.3d 107 (2d Cir. 2004)
2Batista v Rodriguez, 702 F. 2d 393 (2nd Cir. 1983)
3Colon v Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865 (2d Cir. 1995)
4Johnson v Newburgh, 239 F.3d 246 (2d Cir. 2001)

IV. Quick Commentary

V. Additional Notes


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Please get the justice you deserve.


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