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Berger v. Hanlon
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
188 F.3d 1155 (1999)
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) began investigating Paul Berger (plaintiff) for harming eagles. Cable News Network, Inc., and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (the television networks) (defendants) entered into a written agreement with USFWS and the assistant United States attorney (the government officials) (defendants) handling the Berger investigation that allowed the television networks to film the execution of warrants on Berger for television shows on the environment. The television networks wanted footage showing Berger was harming the eagles, and the government wanted positive publicity for fighting environmental crime. The television networks were extensively involved in planning the warrant execution so it would be entertaining. The television networks instructed the federal agents executing the warrants to deviate from their usual behavior by adopting certain attitudes and saying certain things to make more interesting television. The lead agent wore a hidden microphone that transmitted live to television-network vans during the search. Berger filed a Bivens claim in federal court against the television networks and government officials, alleging violations of his constitutional rights, arguing that the television networks were liable as government actors because they acted in concert with the government officials. The district court held that the television networks did not become government actors for the purposes of liability. Berger appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Schroeder, J.)
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