Civil Rights

Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz has a national reputation for their expertise in the area of civil rights in connection with police misconduct. One of the firm's most notable civil rights cases was the representation of the Diallo family for the wrongful death of their son Amadou, who was shot at 19 times by members of the New York City Police Department's Street Crimes Unit.

The Diallo case was covered extensively by the national media and GGCSMB&R partners Robert Conason and Anthony Gair led the legal team that ultimately forced the City of New York to pay $3 million to the Diallo family. This amount is the largest amount ever paid by the City of New York in a wrongful-death action for the death of a single individual with no dependents.

The Civil Rights Act of 1871 is codified in Title 42, Section 1983 of The United States Code (42 U.S.C. §1983). It essentially protects any citizen of the United States from being deprived of constitutional rights and privileges by the government or any government-related entity.

To prevail in a civil rights action under §1983, a plaintiff must establish: (1) that defendants deprived decedent of a right secured by the constitution or laws of the United States, and (2) that such deprivation was committed by person(s) acting under color of state law. Officially promulgated ordinances, regulations and departmental directives give rise to municipal liability under section 1983 if such policies and decisions lead to a deprivation of constitutional rights. Municipalities are liable under section 1983 for de facto policies or practices which engender constitutional deprivation; informal actions, if they reflect general policy, custom, practice or pattern of official conduct which even tacitly encourage conduct depriving individuals of their constitutional rights satisfies section 1983 standards. See Damages for Loss of Life in a New York Wrongful Death Action for Violation of Civil Rights Brought Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983

Excessive force—also known as police misconduct or police brutality—is when police misuse their legal power during routine car stops, questioning, or any other law enforcement pursuits. While Officers are here to protect and serve the public, they are also required to uphold the constitution and use appropriate force when they investigate crimes. When law enforcement cross the line of duty and violate an individual’s constitutional rights, they can be subject to civil liability for their actions. Below are some examples of police misconduct:

  • Racial profiling
  • Making False Arrests
  • Using excessive force
  • Surveillance Abuse
  • Assault
  • Verbal Attacks
  • Abuse of Legal Power
  • Corruption and Bribes

Stereotyping is used by police to ensure their safety as well as others, yet at times these stereotypes are too extreme. Stereotyping can be overlooked leading to prejudice and bias based on many areas including gender, race, religion, disability, and sexual orientation. The lawyers at Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz have more than 90 years of experience representing clients who have suffered civil rights abuses. If you feel that your civil rights have been violated, please contact us to discuss your case.