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Pursuing a Bivens Action against Federal Officials

This content about civil rights was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.

Generally, when an individual is divested of any of their civil rights by police misconduct, there are available remedies to be applied. But, when the deprivation of these guarantees comes at the hands of federal officers, it is more difficult to legally accuse the wrongdoers.

When someone vested with federal authority infringes upon your civil rights, you may pursue justice by a Bivens action. As stated in the dictionary of USLegal, a “Bivens action refers to a lawsuit which is brought to redress a federal official’s violation of a constitutional right”.

There are scenarios where federal officers violate people’s constitutional civil rights and a Bivens action may be taken. Some examples of these situations include the following:

  • Someone is fired from a U.S. agency after sharing their political thoughts. This dismissal constitutes a First Amendment rights violation.
  • A search made by drug agents with no reasonable grounds or a valid warrant, which violates the rights protected by the Fourth Amendment.
  • People are divested of their right to remain silent, which is protected by the Fifth Amendment.
  • An inmate is denied medical attention. This conduct goes against the Eighth Amendment.

Suing for Civil Rights Violations

In cases of police misconduct behaviors that go against constitutional civil rights, a Section 1983 claim may be filed. But, when the unlawful conduct is performed by federal agents, these course of action may not be taken, because it applies to people who act illegally under state authority. The only way federal officials may be sued under Section 1983 is if they acted together with state or local officials.

The victim of a civil rights deprivation may introduce a Bivens lawsuit when the unlawful act is carried out by federal government actors, such as members of congress, federal prison officers, and agents of FBI and DEA.

On the other hand, government entities may not be legally accused of constitutional rights infringement, like the Department of Justice (DOJ), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

As a plaintiff, you must prove that an officer under federal authority deprived you of a constitutional right and that there is a lack of any other remedy that could be applied in your case.

Usually, the result obtained from a successful Bivens claim is the awarding of monetary damages, which may be compensatory and punitive.

Compensatory damages aim to indemnify the victim for their losses. This amount of money may include lost wages, medical costs, pain and suffering, reduction of earning capacity due to long-lasting injuries, and loss of reputation; attorney’s fees are not retrievable. On the other side, punitive damages are meant to punish the federal official for their behavior.

When your civil rights are violated by federal agents or you have suffered from the consequences of police misconduct, it is crucial to find an attorney to give you advice about the way your case should be addressed.

Haddad & Sherwin LLP has a long, successful track record winning wrongful death and other serious civil rights claims for police and jail officer misconduct, throughout Northern and Central California.  Call or email us for a free consultation.

This content about civil rights was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.