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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 38905
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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Hi, From Los Angeles, when filing a civil rights lawsuit in

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Hi, From Los Angeles, when filing a civil rights lawsuit in federal court for 42 usc 1983 violations, must you also file a state tort complaint or a county tort complaint within the allotted statute of limitation of one year in order for the federal lawsuit to be heard?


A "1983" lawsuit stands on its own. It requires no other legal action, because federal court jurisdiction arises wherever a claim is pleaded under federal law. The elements of a 1983 claim are:

1. conduct by a “person”;
2. who acted “under color of state law”;
3. proximately causing;
4. a deprivation of a federally protected right.

Litigants file state tort complaints in addition to a 1983 claim, because it's possible for the federal court to assert "supplemental jurisdiction," once federal jurisdiction for a specific claim is established. But, it's not necessary to plead a tort claim in order to obtain federal jurisdiction for a 1983 claim.

Please let me know if my answer is helpful, or if I can provide further clarification or assistance.

And, thanks for using!

socrateaser and 3 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you very much. Your answer was very helpful.


I was wondering...what is a supplemental jurisdiction? How could that possibly interfere in receiving full compensation for the violations at federal level?

The supplemental jurisdiction statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1367, codifies United Mine Workers of America v. Gibbs, 383 US 715 (1966). Section 1367(a) grants jurisdiction to the federal district courts for “all other claims that are so related to claims” over which the federal district court has original jurisdiction “that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III.” In Gibbs, the Supreme Court held that a pendent claim is part of an Article III controversy when the pendent claim arises out of “a common nucleus of operative fact” as the jurisdictional conferring claim.

Example: If you are beaten by a police officer, then you have a 1983 claim for violation of your civil right to remain free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and you have a state tort claim for civil battery, subject to supplemental jurisdiction -- because both claims arose from the same beating.

As far as interfering with full compensation, it's not the claim that causes interference -- it's the jurisdiction over the defendant. A federal court cannot award damages against a state actor, because that would violate the U.S. Constitution 11th Amendment. Consequently, there are certain state actors (e.g., California county sheriffs) who may or may not be susceptible to legal action on a 1983 claim in federal court. Whereas a municipal policy officer is susceptible.

However, a state actor can be sanctioned to prevent future bad actions by a federal court, so it is still possible to obtain some monetary relief in federal court.

These issues are quite complicated, and require a detailed analysis of the causes of action and the defendant's legal status, before determining in which court to sue and on what legal theories.

Hope this helps.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, thank you very much :)