The majority of civil rights violations are committed by individual officers. However, our law also allows the municipal entity to be brought into the suit under certain circumstances. Generally, there are four distinct theories under which a municipality may be liable in a civil rights case.
First, a municipality may be liable if it can be shown that have adopted or promulgated a policy associated with the violation. Second, a municipality may be liable if there is a custom or practice that is not written or adopted, but that is pervasive, long-standing practice that has the force of law. Third, a municipality may be held liable if they fail to adequately train, supervise, discipline or screen officers. Lastly, a municipality may be held liable based on a particular acts, decisions, and situations of a policymaker.
Successfully prosecuting a claim against a municipality under the theory of Monell liability is a very technical fact intensive exercise. At the Law Offices of Joel Silberman one of our primary goals is to ensure that municipalities are held responsible for the unlawful acts of their officers.