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Civil Rights Defense

Quinn Johnston defends government officials and employees, law enforcement officers, and municipalities in civil rights and discrimination cases. Plaintiffs in these cases allege violations such as false arrests, excessive force, mistreatment of inmates, due process violations, and equal protection violations.  Many civil rights cases can be successfully defended on the merits and by asserting immunities.

Defense against Civil Rights and Discrimination Claims

Quinn Johnston defends government officials, employees and law enforcement officers, as well as cities, counties, townships, and other municipalities in civil rights and discrimination cases. We offer strength and professionalism in our litigation services to clients involved in lawsuits arising from claims of various civil rights and discrimination violations, including:

  • False arrests
  • Excessive force
  • Taser claims
  • Officer involved shootings
  • Deadly force
  • Police pursuits
  • Poor jail conditions
  • Mistreatment of inmates
  • Correctional healthcare
  • Police harassment
  • Strip searches
  • Wrongful convictions
  • Due process violations
  • Equal protection violations
  • Racial profiling
  • Public employee termination
  • Public employee free speech
  • Suits under civil rights laws for conspiracy with state actors

Civil Rights Laws and Immunities

Plaintiffs typically assert civil rights claims under the Civil Rights Act, Section 1983, the Fourth Amendment (excessive force and false arrest), the Eighth Amendment (prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment), or Fourteenth Amendment (due process, equal protection, or racial profiling). Our attorneys are knowledgeable in current civil rights statutory law, administrative law, and case law. Many civil rights and discrimination cases are successfully defended on the merits and by asserting immunities available to public officials, such as qualified immunity and absolute immunity.

Quinn Johnston helps Illinois municipalities and their insurance providers analyze civil rights claims.  We can help develop a plan for the litigation of your case.  Our civil rights attorneys have experience resolving cases in a variety of manners, including trial litigation, settlement negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.  We work with our clients to determine the best litigation tools to use in each case, including motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment.

Representative Cases

County Officers Not Guilty of Mistreating Inmate with Skin Graft:  In the fall of 2013, we successfully defended county deputies and correctional officers who were accused of mistreating an arrestee with a recent skin graft, causing an infection and graft failure. The jury agreed with the defense that the officers’ actions and handling of the Plaintiff were reasonable and did not cause the failure of his graft.

Successfully Defended School District Accused of Retaliation:  Quinn Johnston attorneys obtained summary judgment for a school district accused of wrongfully terminating a principal.  The principal claimed she had been fired in retaliation for reporting allegedly criminal conduct by her supervisor, whereas the facts showed her underperformance was the true and proper reason for her termination.

Summary Judgment for Medical Staff in Jail Suicide Case:  After a detainee committed suicide, his estate sued, claiming that he had not been properly monitored while incarcerated.  Quinn Johnston obtained summary judgment on the constitutional and ADA claims by proving that the “suicide” was actually a fatally misguided attempt to fake a suicide attempt and that the medical staff was not deliberately indifferent to the prisoner’s medical needs.

Appellate Experience

In addition to defending municipal clients against civil rights claims in trial court, Quinn Johnston’s attorneys have successfully represented governmental entities and their employees in appeals in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and Illinois appellate courts.

Seventh Circuit Affirms Grant of Summary Judgment for Illinois City:  Our clients faced a Section 1983 action alleging that their city had an unconstitutional policy of arresting people for failing to pay parking tickets.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that arrests for the “nonjailable” offenses did not violate the Fourth Amendment and that a prosecutor had absolute immunity from damages.

Statute of Limitations Dismissal Upheld for Jail Physician:  In a lawsuit filed two years and ten months after an inmate’s death, the plaintiff claimed that our physician client violated the civil rights of a prisoner at a central Illinois jail by not properly treating him for alcohol withdrawal and that this failure to treat caused his death. The Court rejected Plaintiff’s claim that the limitations period should have been tolled as the sole beneficiary of Plaintiff’s estate was a minor child.

Board of Review Entitled to Absolute Immunity in Civil Rights Claim:  Quinn Johnston attorneys also successfully defended an appeal where the Plaintiff filed civil rights claims arising from a property tax dispute with the County. The Seventh Circuit agreed with us that the Board of Review was entitled to absolute immunity.

About Quinn Johnston

Quinn Johnston was featured by Fortune Legal Marketplace as a 2013 Top Ranked Law Firm based on Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent ratings for ethical standards and legal ability. Several of our attorneys have also been named as Leading Lawyers by their peers in the Leading Lawyers Network.  We represent clients throughout Central Illinois, including in Peoria, Springfield, Bloomington-Normal, the Quad Cities, Champaign-Urbana and their surrounding areas.  Our experienced litigators strongly defend clients while maintaining a high level of professionalism and ethical standards.