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Race Discrimination:
Melvin Jefferson, et al. v. City of Tarrant, Ala.

Appealed From: Alabama Supreme Court
Subjects: Civil Rights; Section 1983; Damages; Race Discrimination; Torts

Argued: Nov. 4, 1997

Decided: Dec. 9, 1997
Vote: 8-1
At Issue: Whether an Alabama municipality charged with depriving a citizen of his civil rights must still pay damage claims if the citizen died as a result of that action. Also, whether municipalities are immune from punitive damages based on an earlier Supreme Court decision. Finally, whether applying the Alabama Wrongful Death Statute bars civil rights-based suits against a municipality in any case where depriving constitutional rights results in death.

Decision: The justices ruled that the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction to review the decision of the Alabama Supreme Court, because the Alabama court had not yet issued its final ruling.

Read the full text of the Jefferson v. City of Tarrant decision at the FindLaw Internet Legal Resources Web site.

Read the full text of the 1981 lower court case, City of Newport v. Fact Concerts Inc., at the FindLaw Internet Legal Resources Web site.

Look at the pertinent civil rights provision in the U.S. Code (42 U.S.C. 1988) at the U.S. House of Representatives Internet Law Library Web site.

Sources: The Washington Post, Supreme Court, The United States Law Week (a Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. publication)


© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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