Civil Rights Violations
At Gilde Law Firm, we handle cases involving Civil Rights Violations. In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court in Harlow v. Fitzgerald said that “a suit for civil damages may offer the only realistic avenue for vindication of constitutional guarantees when a state actor violates a person’s right to be free from the use of excessive force.” Gilde Law Firm is passionate about preserving the protections of the United States Constitution and protecting our clients’ civil rights. Gilde Law Firm is also well experienced with vindicating our constitutional guarantees through the proper legal avenues. We represent clients whose constitutional rights have been stripped from them by a government entity or its employees. Most often, Gilde Law Firm is representing those who have been victimized by Excessive Force, False Arrest, and the government’s Failure to Hire, Train, and Supervise competent employees.
Law Regarding Civil Rights Violations
An actionable Civil Rights violation involves a government actor (law enforcement officer, county or city official, or a public high school or university) that deprives a citizen of his or her constitutionally protected rights while acting under their state law authority. Civil Rights cases are difficult and complex for a few important reasons. First, government entities and their employees are generally immune from suit (they cannot be sued), unless a statute eliminates such immunity. 42 U.S.C. §1983 is the federal statute most commonly used to impose liability on government actors for constitutional violations. To prevail against a government employee under Section 1983, the plaintiff must prove that (1) the conduct was committed by a person acting under color of state law and (2) the plaintiff was deprived of rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution or the laws of the United States as a result of the actor’s conduct. To hold the government entity (e.g. City, County, or School) liable for the actions of its employees, the plaintiff must show that the constitutional deprivation was committed pursuant to one of the entity’s policies, customs, or practices. Even if a plaintiff meets its burden under §1983, individual government employees may still have “Qualified Immunity” from suit, if their actions did not violate a “clearly established” constitutional right or they acted “objectively reasonable.”
Second, Civil Rights cases are difficult because they usually involve a detailed and thorough analysis of the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident in question. This usually results in a “he said, she said” scenario, unless critical audio and video recordings are recovered (usually from patrol cars, ambulances, or building surveillance). Recovering the government entity’s audio and video files requires a law firm who knows the recording policies, knows where to look for the recordings, and won’t be deterred by the agency’s “red tape” tactics.
Gilde Law Firm’s experience prosecuting Civil Rights cases has given us the tools necessary to overcome the various immunity defenses that will be raised in virtually every Civil Rights case. Gilde Law Firm also has the knowledge and experience that enables us to locate and recover the critical audio/video recordings usually made during police-citizen interactions.
Other Law on Government Liability
§1983 only provides a remedy for violations of the U.S. Constitution. However, the state government and its employees are also generally immune from liability for regular non-constitutional torts (i.e. Negligence or Premises Liability). The Texas Tort Claims Act, for example, waives the state’s sovereign immunity for the following
- (1) property damage, personal injury, and death proximately caused by the wrongful act or omission or the negligence of an employee acting within his scope of employment if:
- (A) the property damage, personal injury, or death arises from the operation or use of a motor-driven vehicle or motor-driven equipment; and
- (B) the employee would be personally liable to the claimant according to Texas law; and
- (2) personal injury and death so caused by a condition or use of tangible personal or real property if the governmental unit would, were it a private person, be liable to the claimant according to Texas law.
The Texas Tort Claims Act is a complex statutory scheme that sets unique procedures for bringing tort claims against government entities and their employees. Other states have similar laws addressing immunity and waiver of immunity.
If a law firm or a litigant does not have experience bringing claims in this statutory scheme, the consequences can be dire and some or all of the claims can be lost. Gilde Law Firm has the requisite knowledge and experience gained through years of litigating Texas Tort Claims Act cases against numerous different state agencies.
We Believe: As the U.S. Supreme Court said, a suit for civil damages offers the only realistic avenue for vindication of constitutional guarantees when a state actor violates your constitutional rights. We believe in this litigation, and we believe you.
We Fight: Litigation against state agencies, especially law enforcement agencies, is extremely challenging and adversarial. Gilde Law Firm knows how to fight for your interests.
We Win: We are dedicated to protecting your constitutional rights and obtaining full and fair compensation for your injuries and property damages when government employees cross the line.
Contact an experienced Civil Rights Lawyer. Time is of the essence. Don’t delay – contact us today.