Navigating Section 1983 Liability for Municipalities: Individual/Official Capacity, Qualified Immunity and Monell Claims

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will discuss the elements of municipal liability under Section 1983 and the difference between individual, supervisory and municipal liability, including the definition of a “person” and “acting under color of state law." The program will discuss latest cases, trends, and strategies affecting §1983 litigation and best practices for defending municipalities in these claims.


Section 1983 provides a mechanism by which individuals who have had their constitutional rights violated may seek a remedy against employees or agents of a state or municipality.

While government entities are generally not liable for actions of its employees under §1983, plaintiffs can pursue Monell claims by identifying a governmental policy or custom that caused the plaintiff’s injury.

Section 1983 actions often are brought against both the employee/agent of the state or municipality and the state/municipality itself. If the individual defendant is exonerated from liability, arguably there is no violation by the state/municipality. However, states/municipalities may be held liable even when the individual defendant is not liable for the government’s role, such as inadequate policy or lack of training.

Case law developments nationwide inform the scope of liability and trends and developments are critical to the defense of these claims.

Listen as our authoritative panel of attorneys analyzes municipal liability under Section 1983 and the difference between individual, supervisory and municipal liability. The panel will discuss the definition of a “person” and “acting under color of state law” and look at the latest cases, trends and strategies affecting §1983 litigation.



  1. Element of claims
    1. Defendant acting in an individual or official capacity?
    2. Qualified immunity
    3. Statute of limitations
    4. Defenses
    5. Proof requirements
    6. Causation
    7. State of mind
  2. Latest cases and trends in Section 1983 litigation
  3. Liability of municipalities outside of individual liability


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • How have courts interpreted the definition of a “person” and “acting under color of state law”?
  • What must a plaintiff allege in order to pursue a Monell claim under Section 1983?
  • Under what circumstances can a municipality be held liable for a Section 1983 violation in the absence of a finding of liability against the individual defendant?


Hall, Samuel
Samuel C. Hall, Jr.

Crivello Carlson

Mr. Hall's principal practice focuses on civil rights litigation and appellate practice. He has...  |  Read More

Mills, Sara
Sara C. Mills

Crivello Carlson

Ms. Mills represents her clients in state, federal and administrative forums focusing on civil defense litigation and...  |  Read More

Rhonda R. Stowers
Rhonda R. Stowers

Senior Attorney
Plunkett Cooney

Ms. Stowers has an extensive litigation practice that includes general liability, governmental law, commercial...  |  Read More

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