Dismissal with Prejudice – Civil Rights in Remote Learning Environment March 2023
Alison M. Harrington and Cara M. Rafanelli
Alison M. Harrington and Cara M. Rafanelli obtained a dismissal with prejudice in favor of a municipal client and police officer in a case alleging violation of parents civil rights under federal and state law under the 4th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause. During the height of the COVID 19 Public Health Emergency, a teacher in a local high school district observed plaintiffs’ minor son playing with what was believed to be a handgun during a remote learning class. A municipal police officer responded to the high school’s request for a well-being check on the minor and was met on the stoop of the minor’s residence by his mother who showed the officer colorful play toys and refused to answer questions regarding firearms within the home. Based on investigation and events at the scene, the State charged the minor with disorderly conduct. The parents pursued the municipality and police officer for alleged violations of their civil rights. BVH obtained dismissal of both the first and second amended complaints at the initial pleading stage with the second dismissal with prejudice and a specific holding that the officer was entitled to Qualified Immunity.