Civil Rights Violations

Grand Rapids and Traverse City Attorneys Skilled in Constitutional Claims

Civil rights are the rights of individuals to be treated equally and fairly before the law. These may include freedom from discrimination when seeking housing or employment, as well as freedom from excessive force or abuse by the police and other government officials. If you suspect that your rights have been infringed, you should consult an experienced Grand Rapids or Traverse City civil rights lawyer at Neumann Law Group. You may have the option of suing those responsible for the harm that you have suffered. Our principal, Kelly Neumann, has secured many accolades and can assist people who need a police brutality attorney or guidance in bringing other constitutional claims.

Asserting Your Rights After a Civil Rights Violation

Michigan's primary civil rights law is the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which prohibits the use of protected characteristics as a basis for decisions related to employment, housing, real estate, public accommodations, and educational facilities. Protected characteristics under this law include race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, height, weight, and familial and marital status.

Civil rights lawsuits may be brought against state officials, local officials, and local governments under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This law allows for a civil lawsuit when someone is deprived of constitutional rights or rights granted under federal statute by anyone acting under color of law.

Section 1983 lawsuits may be brought against police officers or other law enforcement based on violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments in the context of police brutality or excessive force. Police are not permitted to use excessive force when arresting or investigating a suspect. Excessive force may include assault, the use of pepper spray, or an unnecessary shooting, when these actions were disproportionate to the circumstances at hand. Prisoners abused by prison guards have a basis for bringing a Section 1983 lawsuit under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

An issue that often arises in police brutality cases is the doctrine of qualified immunity. This protects police officers from being liable for their actions unless a reasonable officer would have known that he was violating clearly established constitutional or statutory norms. Another issue arises when suing a police department, in that you will need to show that the injury was caused by a municipal custom or policy. If inadequate training is the basis of the claim, you would need to prove deliberate indifference to abuse by the municipality. Civil rights lawyer Kelly Neumann can help Traverse City or Grand Rapids residents, among others, determine the appropriate type of claim to bring.

If you overcome these potential hurdles and successfully establish a Section 1983 claim, you may be entitled to recover compensatory damages, including medical expenses, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and wages lost because you were unable to work. You may be able to get the court to direct the police department to change its policies by asking for injunctive relief. In some cases, punitive damages also may be available.

You may be able to bring what is called a Bivens action if a federal law enforcement officer, rather than a state or local officer, violated your constitutional rights. This type of lawsuit is based on a U.S. Supreme Court case, Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, and it may only be used against an individual officer, rather than against the federal government or its agencies. Bivens actions are not available where there is some other statutory method to obtain a remedy for a constitutional violation. Compensatory damages may be available.

Consult an Experienced Civil Rights Lawyer in Grand Rapids or Traverse City

People in a position of authority should not abuse their power. Often, the only recourse for police brutality or other violations of civil rights is a lawsuit for damages and injunctive relief. Our Traverse City and Grand Rapids civil rights attorneys are ready to help. We also represent people in Ann Arbor, Flint, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Detroit, Wyoming, Saginaw, Muskegon, Midland, Holland, Warren, and Petoskey, as well as areas throughout the Upper Peninsula. Contact the Neumann Law Group at 800-525-NEUMANN or via our online form to set up a free consultation with an injury attorney.

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