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Cavanaugh v. Woods Cross City, No. 10-4017

By FindLaw Staff | Last updated on

Denial of Qualified Immunity in Excessive Force Action Affirmed

In Cavanaugh v. Woods Cross City, No. 10-4017, an action under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 alleging that defendant-officer's Tasering of plaintiff violated her rights under the Fourth Amendment by using excessive force, the court affirmed the denial of summary judgment based on qualified immunity where 1) although Tasers may not constitute deadly force, their use unquestionably "seizes" the victim in an abrupt and violent manner; 2) plaintiff did not pose an immediate threat to defendant or anyone else at the scene; and 3) a reasonable jury could easily conclude that when the Taser was deployed plaintiff was not fleeing -- she was quickly walking towards her own home -- where defendant could easily arrest her if he so desired.

As the court wrote:  "Defendants-Appellants Woods Cross City, Utah and Officer Daniel Davis
appeal from the district court's order denying their motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. Plaintiffs-Appellees Shannon Cavanaugh and Brad Cavanaugh had sued Defendants-Appellants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that Officer Davis's Tasering of Ms. Cavanaugh violated her rights under the Fourth Amendment by using excessive force. Though not a final judgment, our jurisdiction over the legal issues in this qualified immunity appeal arises under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 530 (1985). We affirm."

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