Recent Federal Fifth Circuit Cases of Interest to Cities

Note: Included cases are from February 11, 2023 through March 10, 2023.

Qualified Immunity: Grice v. Younger, No. 22-20144, 2023 WL 2401584 (5th Cir. Mar. 8, 2023). This case stems from an excessive force claim under Section 1983 in which the court of appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision. 

Grice sued Officer Younger, the City of Bellaire, and a variety of other city-related defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”), and other claims. The district court first dismissed all Grice’s claims except her excessive force and IIED claims against Officer Younger, and later granted summary judgment to Officer Younger on those claims. Grice appealed only as to her excessive force and IIED claims against Officer Younger and her claims against the city.

The court of appeals determined that because every reasonable official in Officer Younger’s shoes wouldn’t think it obvious that taking a noncompliant, physically resistant suspect to the ground after trying multiple lesser measures violated the Constitution, Officer Younger is entitled to qualified immunity. The court also held that by bringing the Texas Tort Claims Act (TTCA) against both the city and Officer Younger, Officer Younger is statutorily immune from Grice’s IIED claim against him under the TTCA.  Finally, the court found that Grice’s various municipal liability claims against the city under Section 1983 fail because she pled no specific facts to support them.