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Gilde Law Firm, PLLC Houston Personal Injury Law Firm
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Houston Civil Rights Violation/1983 Lawyer

“Civil Rights” cases often refers to those type of cases where a plaintiff complains about the violation of his or her constitutional rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, which violation was caused by a “state actor.” It is commonly referred to as “1983 cases,” which name comes to us from its place in the United States Code – the federal statutory law that creates a cause of action under that code section. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Enacted by the 42nd U.S. Congress in 1871 under the names the “Enforcement Act of 1871,” also known as the “Ku Klux Klan Act,” “Third Enforcement Act,” “Third Ku Klux Klan Act,” “Civil Rights Act of 1871,” and “Force Act of 1871,” 42 U.S.C. § 1983 states in part the following:

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 . . .

Subsequent case law has held that excessive force and unlawful search and seizure are constitutional violations.

Excessive force has become a very common topic in the news lately. Everyone has seen the severe injuries caused when law enforcement officers use excessive force on the general public. Millions of people have also followed the criminal cases that follow situations in which excessive force was used. Many people do not understand though, that victims of excessive force can file a civil lawsuit against a police officer or a law enforcement agency after suffering injury. These claims are much more complex than other civil lawsuits, though. But, cases of excessive force have resulted in noteworthy settlements, as reported in the news, which include the following:

  • Oscar Grant, Deceased (2009) – $2,800,000 Settlement (2011; CA)
  • Michael Brown, Deceased (2014) – $1,500,000 Settlement (2017; MO)
  • Laquan Mcdonald, Deceased (2014) – $5,000,000 Settlement (2015; IL)
  • Tamir Rice, Deceased (2014) – $6,000,000 Settlement (2016; OH)
  • Walter L. Scott, Deceased (2015) – $6,500,000 Settlement (2015; SC)
  • Eric Garner, Deceased (2014) – $5,900,000 Settlement (2015; NY)
  • Philando Castile, Deceased (2016) – $2,995,000 Settlement (2017; MN)
  • Bettie Jones, Deceased (2018) – $16,000,000 Settlement (2018; IL)
  • Justine Ruszczyk, Deceased (2017) – $20,000,000 Settlement (2019; MN)
  • Breonna Taylor, Deceased (2020) – $12,000,000 Settlement (2020; KY)
  • George Floyd, Deceased (2020) – $27,000,000 Settlement (2021; MN)
  • Jamail Amron, Deceased (2010) – $4,750,000 Settlement (2021; TX)

What is Excessive Force?

It is not uncommon for police officers to sometimes have to use a certain degree of force when dealing with the public. They may have to use force to subdue a suspect, or to keep someone from fleeing the scene of a crime. However, law enforcement is not allowed to use excessive force. Typically, excessive force refers to when a law enforcement officer uses greater force than reasonably necessary to effectuate the end goal than another officer would have used in the same situation. Generally speaking, law enforcement officers can only use an appropriate degree of force that is necessary to protect the public from harm and to maintain control over a situation.

Injuries Caused by Excessive Force

Nearly any type of injury can be caused by excessive force, depending on the officer’s actions at the time. Some of the most common injuries are as follows:

  • Death: Whether caused by shooting; strikes to the head, neck, or no-go zones; taser; chemical spray or other chemical injection; positional asphyxiation; suffocation; and the like – death can result from excessive force.
  • Traumatic brain injuries: Traumatic brain injuries such as concussions, contusions, skull fractures, and more are just a few of the traumatic brain injuries victims suffer after an officer uses excessive force. These are often caused by the victim’s head being slammed to the ground or into another object.
  • Broken bones: While using excessive force, an officer may kneel or otherwise apply immense pressure on a person’s body. The bones often cannot withstand this pressure and so, they break, often requiring multiple surgeries to correct.
  • Neck injuries: Police often use choke holds, some of which are even in their training programs, to subdue suspects. This can cause serious injuries such as a neck fracture, neck sprain, pinched nerve, and arthritis in the neck.
  • Soft tissue injuries: Damage to the tendons, ligaments, and muscles are not uncommon after law enforcement uses excessive force.

If excessive force has caused you to suffer any of the above injuries, or any other, it is important to know that you can file a claim to obtain damages for any losses you sustained.

Types of Civil Rights Violations/1983 Cases Gilde Law Firm Retains

Unfortunately, because of immunity, when police officers and their entity commit constitutional violations, they often get away with it. The legal hurdles, cost of litigation, and burdens of proof surrounding these cases often make filing a case nearly impossible. As a consequence, most lawyers shy away from 1983 cases and Monell cases specifically. While Gilde Law Firm is different, we have to be selective in the types of cases we retain. Therefore, Gilde Law Firm only retains the following types of 1983 cases and Monell cases:

  • Unlawful Search & Seizure Resulting in Wrongful Death
  • Excessive Force Resulting in Wrongful Death
  • Unlawful Search & Seizure Resulting in Significant Catastrophic Personal Injury (e.g. burns from a taser, heart attacks, broken bone(s), torn muscles or ligaments, significant blunt force trauma, asphyxiation, and suffocation)
  • Excessive Force Resulting in Significant Catastrophic Personal Injury (e.g. burns from a taser, heart attacks, broken bone(s), torn muscles or ligaments, significant blunt force trauma, asphyxiation, and suffocation)
  • Monell cases where there is a pattern and practice of the complained-of unconstitutional conduct or where the unconstitutional conduct was ratified after the fact

Our Civil Rights Violations/1983 Lawyer in Houston Can Uphold Your Rights

Lawsuits filed for police misconduct, excessive force, or police brutality are based on civil rights violations. At Gilde Law Firm, our Houston civil rights violations/1983 lawyer will hold the appropriate agency accountable for violating your rights, and give you the best chance of a successful outcome. Call us today at 800-973-3106 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help you make things right.

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