California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)
3007. Municipal Liability (42 U.S.C. § 1983)
[Name of plaintiff] claims that [he/she] was deprived of [his/her] civil rights as a result of the official [policy/custom] of the [name of municipality]. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:
1. That [name of officer, employee, etc.] [intentionally/[insert other applicable state of mind]] [insert conduct allegedly violating plaintiff's civil rights];
2. That [insert conduct allegedly violating plaintiff's civil rights] occurred as a result of the official [policy/custom] of the [name of municipality];
3. That [name of plaintiff] was harmed; and
4. That [name of officer, employee, etc.]'s conduct was a substantial factor in causing [name of plaintiff]'s harm.
Directions for Use
In element 1, the standard is not always based on intentional conduct. Insert the appropriate level of scienter. For example, Eighth Amendment cases involve "deliberate indifference," and Fourth Amendment claims do not necessarily involve intentional conduct.
Sources and Authority
"[I]t is when execution of a government's policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy, inflicts the injury that the government as an entity is responsible under § 1983." (Monell v. Dept. of Social Services of New York (1978) 436 U.S. 658, 694 [98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611].)
Local governmental entities " 'can be sued directly under § 1983 for monetary, declaratory, or injunctive relief where . . . the action that is alleged to be unconstitutional implements or executes a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted. . . .' " Local governmental entities also can be sued " 'for constitutional deprivations visited pursuant to governmental 'custom'.' " In addition, " '[t]he plaintiff must . . . demonstrate that, through its deliberate onduct, the municipality was the 'moving force' behind the injury alleged. That is, a plaintiff must show that the municipal action was taken with the requisite degree of culpability and must demonstrate a direct causal link between the municipal action and the deprivation of federal rights.' " (Zelig v. County of Los Angeles (2002) 27 Cal.4th 1112, 1147 [119 Cal.Rptr.2d 709, 45 P.3d 1171], internal citations omitted.)
"Entity liability may arise in one of two forms. The municipality may itself have directed the deprivation of federal rights through an express government policy. This was the situation in Monell, where there was an explicit policy requiring pregnant government employees to take unpaid leaves of absence before such leaves were medically required. . . . Alternatively, the municipality may have in place a custom or practice so widespread in usage as to constitute the functional equivalent of an express policy." (Choate v. County of Orange (2000) 86 Cal.App.4th 312, 328 [103 Cal.Rptr.2d 339].)
" '[I]n order to successfully maintain an action under 42 United States Code section 1983 against governmental defendants for the tortious conduct of employees under federal law, it is necessary to establish that the conduct occurred in execution of a government's policy or custom promulgated either by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy.' " (Newton v. County of Napa (1990) 217 Cal.App.3d 1551, 1564 [266 Cal.Rptr. 682], internal citations omitted.)
"At most, Monell liability adds an additional defendant, a municipality, to the universe of actors who will be jointly and severally liable for the award." (Choate, supra, 86 Cal.App.4th at p. 328.)
"Local governmental bodies such as cities and counties are considered 'persons' subject to suit under section 1983. States and their instrumentalities, on the other hand, are not." (Kirchmann v. Lake Elsinore Unified School Dist. (2000) 83 Cal.App.4th 1098, 1101 [100 Cal.Rptr.2d 289], internal citations omitted.)
"A local governmental unit cannot be liable under this section for acts of its employees based solely on a respondeat superior theory. A local governmental unit is liable only if the alleged deprivation of rights 'implements or executes a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and promulgated by that body's officers,' or when the injury is in 'execution of a [local] government's policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or cts may fairly be said to represent official policy.' " (County of Los Angeles v. Superior Court (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 1166, 1171 [80 Cal.Rptr.2d 860], internal citations omitted.)
"A municipality's policy or custom resulting in constitutional injury may be actionable even though the individual public servants are shielded by good faith immunity." (Bach v. County of Butte (1983) 147 Cal.App.3d 554, 568 [195 Cal.Rptr. 268], internal citations omitted.)
"No punitive damages can be awarded against a public entity." (Choate, supra, 86 Cal.App.4th at p. 328, internal citation omitted.)
8 Witkin, Summary of California Law (9th ed. 1988) Constitutional Law, § 706 et seq.
(New September 2003)