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7th Circuit: Woman has claim for relief

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed today with a District Court's dismissal of a woman's complaint against the federal government, finding she had stated a claim for relief following her dismissal from her job as a result of a Federal Protective Service investigation.

In Maureen Reynolds v. United States of America, No. 08-1634, Maureen Reynolds appealed the dismissal of her suit against the U.S. under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Reynolds worked as a security officer with General Security Services Corp. at the federal building in Indianapolis. She learned another security officer locked himself out on the roof naked and was let inside by another officer. She wrote up a report, but left out the fact the officer was naked because the nudity wasn't reported to her by the other two officers.

FPS investigated the incident, in which two FPS officers submitted an affidavit to the Marion County Prosecutor's Office that Reynolds had lied to them by not telling them about the nudity. Reynolds was acquitted of the charge but fired as a result of the criminal investigation.

Reynolds sued the U.S., claiming the FPS officers, acting in their official capacity as federal law enforcement officers, instigated a malicious prosecution that led to her termination.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Reynolds that her suit shouldn't have been dismissed. The alleged misconduct of the FPS investigators doesn't fall outside of the FTCA's discretionary-function exception.

The District Court also incorrectly characterized the FPS investigators as contractors, thus not allowing Reynolds to sue the U.S. under the FTCA, wrote Judge Ilana D. Rovner.

The federal appellate court also disagreed with the District Court's reasoning to dismiss the suit because the FPS investigators' actions didn't entail any searches, seizures, or arrests. The District Court was incorrect in interpreting 28 U.S.C. Section 2680(h) as requiring a law enforcement officer to commit the intentional tort while executing a search, seizure, or arrest, the judge wrote.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals also found that Reynolds had stated a claim for relief under Indiana tort law.

"We do not, of course, vouch for the accuracy of Reynolds's allegations; our holding is merely that she has stated a claim for relief," she wrote. The federal appellate court vacated the lower court's ruling and remanded for further proceedings.

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  1. Based on several recent Indy Star articles, I would agree that being a case worker would be really hard. You would see the worst of humanity on a daily basis; and when things go wrong guess who gets blamed??!! Not biological parent!! Best of luck to those who entered that line of work.

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  4. Law school is social control the goal to produce a social product. As such it began after the Revolution and has nearly ruined us to this day: "“Scarcely any political question arises in the United States which is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question. Hence all parties are obliged to borrow, in their daily controversies, the ideas, and even the language, peculiar to judicial proceedings. As most public men [i.e., politicians] are, or have been, legal practitioners, they introduce the customs and technicalities of their profession into the management of public affairs. The jury extends this habitude to all classes. The language of the law thus becomes, in some measure, a vulgar tongue; the spirit of the law, which is produced in the schools and courts of justice, gradually penetrates beyond their walls into the bosom of society, where it descends to the lowest classes, so that at last the whole people contract the habits and the tastes of the judicial magistrate.” ? Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

  5. Attorney? Really? Or is it former attorney? Status with the Ind St Ct? Status with federal court, with SCOTUS? This is a legal newspaper, or should I look elsewhere?

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