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The Sanders Firm, P.C.: Qualified Immunity Defense

In New York City, The Sanders Firm, P.C. offers information on defenses, including qualified immunity. On this page, discover how someone who has qualified immunity may affect your attempt to bring a civil rights lawsuit. Although not as far reaching as absolute immunity, qualified immunity does afford protections to government officials.

Qualified Immunity

Qualified immunity pertains to federal law and is a doctrine that finds its origins on the federal level in Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) and in lawsuits against state officials in 42 U.S.C § 1983. Qualified immunity provides government officials with limited immunity and restricts situations in which an official may be liable for violating a person’s constitutional rights.

Qualified immunity is granted to local, state or federal employees who while engaged in discretionary functions for the government-performed actions that did not violate “clearly established law.” Employees are still immune even if later their actions are discovered to be illegal.

Objective Reasonable Action

The test regarding a government agent’s viable use of qualified immunity is objective reasonableness in terms of their action. The question is, if a reasonable person in the government employee’s position would have known that their actions violated a clearly defined and established law. If the answer is “yes,” then immunity does not apply to the situation.

In Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982), the Supreme Court noted that the protection offered by qualified immunity to those working in the government is designed for situations “insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”

What Are Your Rights?

If an employee of the government has clearly violated your civil rights in a manner that their action was not objectively reasonable, then you may well have a case. Qualified immunity does not negate your ability to being a lawsuit against a government official, but it does protect officials in their daily work during which they may have to make difficult and unpopular decisions that are acceptable to a reasonable person in the light of the law.

Call The Sanders Firm, P.C.

If you think you have a civil rights case against someone who has qualified immunity, call New York City’s The Sanders Firm, P.C. We will review your case with you, discuss possible options, and work with you every step of the way. After meeting with you, we may discover that you do have a viable lawsuit. Of course, if we feel you do not have a case, we will advise you regarding this. We will provide you with information regarding any options connected to your situation. The Sanders Firm, P.C. is ready to work with you and be your voice for justice.