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Law School Case Brief

Hygh v. Jacobs - 961 F.2d 359 (2d Cir. 1992)


That law provides that damages may be awarded for false arrest only for the period from initial custody until arraignment. Subsequent damages resulting from continued incarceration are attributable only to the tort of malicious prosecution.


Defendant police officer sought review of a decision from the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, which rendered judgment in favor of plaintiff claimant, in plaintiff's action for damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 (1988), based on allegations of false arrest, excessive use of force, and malicious prosecution. Plaintiff cross-appealed the award of nominal damages on the malicious prosecution claim.


Did the trial court err in rendering judgment in favor of the plaintiff?


As to the claim of excessive use of force, no; as to the claim of false arrest and malicious prosecution, yes.


The Court affirmed the judgment as to defendant's excessive use of force; although the trial court had erred in admitting conclusory expert testimony on the issue, the Court held the error was not reversible because the evidence supported the finding and proper jury instructions were given. The Court vacated the false arrest damage award, finding that the award was inconsistent with substantial justice because evidence concerning events following plaintiff's arraignment, testimony by plaintiff concerning his pain and suffering, and a mugshot of plaintiff depicting his facial injuries were all inadmissible. The Court also reversed the malicious prosecution judgment because, as a matter of law, a dismissal in the interest of justice was not a termination in plaintiff's favor and therefore an essential element of the claim was not established.

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