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Rambo v. Daley

October 27, 1995






Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 92 C 780 -- James B. Zagel, Judge.

Before CUDAHY, FLAUM, and EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judges.

FLAUM, Circuit Judge.



The plaintiff, Harvey Rambo, filed a sec. 1983 suit against the defendant police officers, John Daley and William McGinnis, alleging that the officers violated the Fourth Amendment by using excessive force while effecting his arrest. The district court denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment, based on a qualified immunity defense, and the officers filed an interlocutory appeal. We now dismiss their appeal for want of jurisdiction.


For the purposes of this appeal, we accept the plaintiff's version of the facts and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Knox v. McGinnis, 998 F.2d 1405, 1409 (7th Cir. 1993). At approximately 10:00 p.m. on April 5, 1991, officer John Daley was patrolling the streets in Burnham, Illinois when he encountered a car driven by Harvey Rambo. Although Rambo was driving normally, Officer Daley followed Rambo across the nearby border into Hammond, Indiana. After Daley followed Rambo for approximately half a mile, Rambo entered a parking lot and stopped his vehicle.

Officer Daley pulled into the parking lot, left his car, and asked Rambo if he could see Rambo's driver's license. In response to the officer's request, Rambo stated that because he was in Hammond, Indiana, he would only comply with directives from Hammond police officers. Burnham police officer William McGinnis then arrived. Daley and McGinnis arrested and handcuffed Rambo, but Rambo refused to enter the Burnham squad car, protesting that Daley and McGinnis lacked authority in Indiana. Rambo demanded that Daley and McGinnis request the assistance of a local police officer. Rambo maintains that, in response to his request, one officer punched him, thereby fracturing his ribs, while the other officer pulled him into the squad car by his hair. At no time during the arrest did Rambo attempt to flee or become physically aggressive towards the Burnham police officers.

After the arrest Daley and McGinnis drove Rambo back to Burnham, Illinois, where he was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and resisting arrest. He was released from police custody the night of his arrest and later received treatment for numbness in his wrist and broken ribs.


On appeal, the defendants challenge the district court's denial of summary judgment based on the defense of qualified immunity. The defendants argue that the district court erred in two respects. First, the defendants assert that they are shielded by qualified immunity because courts have not clearly established that police officers who make arrests outside their home state act under sec. 1983's "color of law" requirement. Second, the defendants contend that the plaintiff cannot prove a significant injury because Rambo has failed to produce competent evidence of his broken ribs. Defendants argue that qualified immunity should protect them because the lack of a significant injury demonstrates that the officers did not violate a clearly established constitutional right.

Under 28 U.S.C. sec. 1291, we have jurisdiction to hear appeals only from "final decisions" of district courts. Given this statute, interlocutory appeals are the "exception" and not the "rule." Johnson v. Jones, 115 S. Ct. 2151, 2154 (1995). However, one large "exception" allows public officials asserting a defense of qualified immunity to appeal the denial of summary judgment where the issue on appeal is limited to "whether or not certain given facts show[ ] a violation of 'clearly established' law." Johnson, 115 S. Ct. at 2155; accord Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511 (1985).


Under the objective standard articulated by the Supreme Court, public officials performing discretionary functions are entitled to qualified immunity unless their conduct violates "clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known." Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). Daley and McGinnis contend that they are sheltered by qualified immunity because, when they arrested Rambo, the law was not clearly established that their actions were under color of state law. The defendants take the position that they were acting as private citizens, rather than Illinois police officers, when they arrested Rambo ...

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