PDP Celebrates its 25th Anniversary

PDP proudly reflects on 25 years of advocacy and service on behalf of our clients and the community.

Read About Our 25th Anniversary

Civil Rights

Practice Overview

There is an increasing number of federal and state claims brought against police officers, school officials, municipal board members and government bodies seeking damages for violations of the Federal Constitution and MA Declaration of Rights.

Pierce Davis & Perritano attorneys have defended various police officers, school officials, management and all levels of government officials against these claims.  The Firm works to keep costs low, but work aggressively to obtain targeted discovery and when possible to move for dismissal. Claims brought under Section 1983, MCRA, anti-discrimination statutes, such as the ADA, Rehabilitation Act, and Title IX can be at times complicated and require detailed understanding of the various federal and state case law. Pierce Davis & Perritano attorneys have the proven experience to defend against these claims.

The Federal Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. section 1983, only applies to those individuals who are acting under the so-called “color of law,” i.e., individuals who are empowered to act pursuant to their duties as governmental employees. This statute is often used by plaintiffs to bring a variety of claims against towns, their officials, and employees.

Practice Experience

PDP attorneys have a wealth of experience in handling a wide variety civil rights cases. Since our founding, our firm has successfully defended as many or more civil rights complaints in both Federal and State Court than any other firm in Massachusetts. These cases included defending:

  • police officers against accusations concerning conducted searches, arrests without sufficient probable cause, or the use of excessive force
  • school districts and officials in Title IX claims, student speech claims, challenges to school curriculum, bullying and peer-on-peer harassment claims
  • municipal officials alleged to retaliate against public employees stemming from First Amendment speech and Whistleblower claims
  • zoning boards and conservation commissions in challenges to permitting processes where claims of due process and equal protection claims are asserted

Civil rights lawsuits create the most financial risk for municipal defendants for three reasons. First, there is no cap on damages. Second, if a plaintiff prevails at trial, he or she will be awarded attorneys’ fees on top of their damages. Finally, if the jury finds that a public official maliciously and knowingly violated a plaintiff’s civil rights, the public official could be personally liable for punitive damages.

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