Pembaur v. City of Cincinnati

475 U.S. 469 (1986)

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Pembaur v. City of Cincinnati

United States Supreme Court
475 U.S. 469 (1986)

  • Written by Whitney Kamerzel , JD
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Facts

Bertold Pembaur (plaintiff) was a doctor who was criminally indicted for fraud. Because two of Pembaur’s employees were subpoenaed and failed to appear, the prosecutor for the city of Cincinnati (the City) (defendant) prosecutor issued a warrant for the employees’ arrest. The City’s deputy sheriffs tried to serve the arrest warrant at Pembaur’s office, but Pembaur refused to let the officers inside. The police department’s standard operating procedure was to use force to execute an arrest warrant. However, pursuant to police policy, the deputies called the prosecutor to decide how to handle the situation, and the prosecutor instructed the sheriffs to go in and get the witnesses. The deputies broke down the door and searched the office, but they did not find the witnesses. Pembaur sued the City for violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments because the deputies did not obtain a search warrant. The district court dismissed Pembaur’s claims. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that a municipality’s liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 must rest on a municipal policy and not a single action. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brennan, J.)

Concurrence (Stevens, J.)

Concurrence (White, J.)

Dissent (Powell, J.)

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