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Ellison v. Balinski, 09-2033

By FindLaw Staff on November 12, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Civil rights suit against an investigator for unreasonable search and seizure

Ellison v. Balinski, 09-2033, concerned a challenge to the jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff on the Fourth Amendment claim and an award of $100,000 in compensatory damages, in plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit for violation of her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, and a state law claim for libel and slander.


In affirming, the court held that the district court was correct to deny defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law, because a jury could reasonably determine that the affidavit - mentioning no specific crimes thought probably committed, making no link between plaintiff's residence and any crime, yet seeking broad authority for a search of plaintiff's entire residence for any document pertaining to plaintiff - was so lacking in indicia of probable cause to render defendant's belief in its existence objectively unreasonable.  The court also held that the district court did not err in denying defendant's motion for remittitur of the jury's verdict, nor abused its discretion in its award of attorney's fees to plaintiff.

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