federal courts- qualified immunity
Thomas v. Independence Township, et al. - Third Circuit - September 14, 2006
The court upheld the district court's refusal to grant defendants' 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss on the ground that that they had qualified immunity (q/i).
The court said that the q/I determination "must be made in light of the specific factual context of the case, and when a complaint fashioned under the simplified notice pleading standard of the Federal Rules does not provide the necessary factual predicate for such a determination, the district court should grant a defense motion...[or sua sponte order] a more definite statement regarding the facts underlying the plaintiff's claim for relief" pursuant to F.R. Civ. P. 12(e).
A "plaintiff has no pleading burden to anticipate or overcome a qualified immunity defense, and a mere absence of detailed factual allegations supporting a plaintiff's claim for relief under sec. 1983 does not warrant dismissal of the complaint or establish defendants' immunity." The court rejected defendants' "novel argument" that the complaint did not include allegations that would negate a q/i defense. This argument "conflates qualified immunity with the merits of a plaintiff's cause of action under sec. 1983," something which was rejected in Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 635-6 (1980) and re-affirmed in Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 595 (1998).