Public Entity Cases

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided two cases this summer that were briefed and argued by David Newdorf.

Bull v. City and County of San Francisco (9th Circuit August 22, 2008).

A 2-1 decision denying qualified immunity to San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey for his former strip search policy. Opinion by Judge Sidney R. Thomas, concurrence by Judge Sandra S. Ikuta, and dissent by Judge Richard C. Tallman. That each judge wrote separately shows the complexity and close nature of the issue. The concurrence by Judge Ikuta is noteworthy, as she advocates rejecting Ninth Circuit precedents to recognize the dangersposed to inmates and staff from drugs and weapons smuggled into the jails.

Snyder & Santoro v. City and County of San Francisco (9th Circuit July 23, 2008).

An unpublished opinion affirming summary judgment in favor of the City in the “fajitagate” San Francisco Police Department case. Plaintiffs engaged in an altercation with three off-duty police officers in front of a bar. They claimed that the City was liable for their injuries because of a purported policy of failing to discipline officers for improper use of force while on duty. The district court and Ninth Circuit rejected this novel liability theory.

Learn more about these high-profile cases at the Section 1983 Civil Rights Law Reporter.