CONSTITUTIONAL LAW-14TH AMENDMENT-DUE PROCESS-SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS-STATE CREATED DANGER CLAIM-POLICE OFFICER TRAINING

January 4th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Constitutional Law

Joan Kedra v. Schroeter, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 23982 (3rd Cir. November 28, 2017) Krause, C.J.  This case arises from the death of a state trooper who was shot and killed by his instructor during a routine firearms training.  The training officer treated the gun as though it were unloaded instead of loaded.  He pointed at a person instead of a safe target, and he bypassed the required visual and physical inspection before pulling the trigger, aimed at plaintiff’s decedent’s chest.  The district court threw out the case, stating that it did not fulfill the requirements of a state-created danger in violation of the 14th Amendment substantive due process rights.  The court therefore found qualified immunity.  In other words, there was no deliberate indifference because the objective theory of deliberate indifference was not clearly established at the time of the shooting.  However, because obviousness of risk is relevant to proving actual knowledge and the allegations of the complaint are more than sufficient to support a reasonable inference that the trainer had such knowledge, we conclude that the complaint adequately pleads a state created danger claim under a then clearly established theory of liability.  We therefore reverse the district court’s grant of qualified immunity and remand for further proceedings.