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Case Law Update: Qualified Immunity in 1983 Actions

Baird v. Renbarger, No. 08-2436 (8/3/09) affirmed a decision that the district court did not err when it denied defendant-police officer’s motion for summary judgment based on defendant’s claim of qualified immunity in section 1983 action alleging that defendant violated plaintiffs’ 4th Amendment rights by using excessive force when pointing submachine gun at plaintiffs while investigating VIN numbers of automobiles on car lot. Claimed use of pointed submachine gun was objectively unreasonable where underlying offense of altering vehicle identification number was not crime of violence, and where there was never reason to suspect that plaintiffs threatened resistance to defendant or posed threat to safety of defendant. This seventh circuit case will affect all Illinois cases.