The employee [Plaintiff] sued his former employer, [Defendants] contending  that he was dismissed from his position by Defendants without due process and  that his termination was an act of retaliation against him by Defendants in violation of the federal Civil Rights Act, 18 U.S.C. §1983, because he had filed a complaint against Defendants alleging racial discrimination .
Although Defendants moved for summary judgment dismissing Plaintiff's action contending they were entitled to a qualified immunity, the federal District Court determined that they were not entitled to qualified immunity from Plaintiff's "18 U.S.C. §1983" claims "at the summary judgment stage" as "genuine issues of fact existed as to whether Defendants acted 'objectively reasonably' with regard to both claims — as Defendants must do in order to obtain qualified immunity." Defendants appealed.
The Circuit Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, said that the first issue to be resolved was whether it had jurisdiction to adjudicate Defendants' appeal.
Conceding that an order denying a motion for summary judgment is generally not . . . appealable” except when “the summary judgment motion is based on a claim of qualified immunity,” the court pointed out that there was an exception to this exception. Citing Catone v. Spielmann, 149 F.3d 156, the Circuit Court then explained that “a defendant may not appeal a district court’s summary judgment order — even one addressing the availability of a qualified immunity defense — insofar as that order determines whether or not the pretrial record sets forth a genuine issue of fact for trial.”*
In the event the District Court finds that the evidence was sufficient to create a jury issue, as it did in this instance, the Circuit Court said "that is the end of our review" as Defendants’ argument on appeal amounts to a challenge of whether the evidence was sufficient and, in the words of the Circuit Court, "we lack jurisdiction to review the denial of qualified immunity."
Here the District Court concluded that there disputed facts that could lead reasonable jurors to different conclusions about whether Defendants acted “objectively reasonably” and thus deserved qualified immunity.
Further, observed the Circuit Court, "in assessing Defendants’ argument that they are entitled to qualified immunity on [Plaintiff's] retaliation claim, the District Court noted several additional issues of material fact to be resolved, particularly about whether Defendants acted with a retaliatory motive. As Plaintiff and Defendants differ on this factual issue of intent that is the basis of such a claim, the District Court once again concluded that there were facts were for the jury to consider and decide.
As the District Court denied Defendants motion for qualified immunity and denied their motion for summary judgment on these claims, finding genuine issues of fact to be resolved at trial, the Circuit Court found that the lower court's ruling was not appealable and dismissed Defendants' appeal.
* In addition, the Circuit Court pointed out that it may not “entertain an interlocutory appeal in which a defendant contends that the district court committed an error of law in ruling that the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient to create a jury issue on the facts relevant to the defendant’s immunity defense,” citing Salim v. Proulx, 93 F.3d 86. An interlocutory appeal is an appeal of a ruling by a trial court while other aspects of the litigation are still proceeding.
The decision is posted on the Internet at: