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Legal Memorandum: Government Liability

You are a paralegal working in the legal department for the City of
Chicago. Donny is a Chicago police officer who does not get along with
his brother-in-law, Steve. Steve is married to Donny’s sister, and last
Thanksgiving, Steve made several rude and mean comments about her. Since
then, Donny and Steve have been archenemies. Last month Donny decided
to get revenge and pulled Steve over for a DUI. When Steve inquired what
he had done wrong, Donny responded, “I’ll find something.” During the
stop Donny told Steve to perform a field sobriety test and before Steve
even started, Donny told him that he failed and Steve was arrested.

Steve posted bail the next day and took the city bus home. As he was
exiting the bus, the bus driver pulled away before Steve got off the bus
and it accidentally ran him over and broke his leg. It was the bus
driver’s first day on the job and he was supposed to be in training. The
city was short on drivers that day so they sent the bus driver alone
and told him that he would figure it out.

Steve filed a civil rights action under § 1983 against Donny, seeking
an injunction prohibiting further harassment from Donny and seeking
both general and punitive damages. He alleged that his Constitutional
rights were violated due to Donny’s behavior during the stop and arrest.
Steve also sued the city and state.

In a separate case, Steve filed a negligence suit against the bus
driver and City of Chicago seeking general and punitive damages.

Based on these facts, prepare a two page legal memorandum for your instructor that includes the following:

  1. Donny files a motion for dismissal of the entire action under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12, claiming immunity. Should he prevail?
  2. Assuming that Steve can prove his constitutional claims, can general damages be awarded? Punitive damages? Injunctive relief?
  3. What must be proven to be successful against the city or the state?
  4. Is the City of Chicago protected by immunity from liability for the negligent act of the bus driver?

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