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Supreme Court: Private Attorney Hired by a City Can Claim Legal Immunity On Tuesday, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that private attorneys and other experts temporarily hired by a city to aid in investigations can assert immunity from lawsuits alleging constitutional violations and seeking damages. The lawyer who benefited from the judgment was backed on the issue by the Obama administration, 27 states, the American Bar Association and many other groups representing cities, mayors and state legislatures from around the country. The decision affected the entire nation.
Though a federal judge dismissed Deliaâ€™s lawsuit, the appeals court ruled that Delia could only proceed
The finding of the Supreme Court that individuals
against Filarsky, as in the capacity of a private
temporarily retained by the government are entitled
attorney, Filarsky could not claim the legal immunity
to the same level of immunity (in relation to the work
that could be claimed by public employees on the case.
done for the government) that was enjoyed by their public employee counterparts is commendable. It also
The Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the appeals
strengthens the arms of government authorities to
court and held that the lower court (the high court in
hire subject experts on contingency basis and provide
this case) was right in asserting that individuals hired
appropriate state attention to matters based on
by government are not barred from immunity solely
on the ground that they are not permanent public employees.
The case of Filarsky v. Delia originated from the act of the city of Rialto, California, hiring Steve Filarsky, a
Writing for the unanimous bench, Chief Justice John
private attorney, to probe the possible misuse of sick
Roberts wrote that providing immunity to those hired
leaves by city employees. After the investigation was
temporarily, allowed the government to attract subject
over, Nicholas Delia, a firefighter accused of improperly
experts and served public interest.
taking sick leaves, sued Filarsky. While on medical leave, Delia was captured on video as buying fiberglass
Supporters of Filarsky said that the decision helped
insulation at a home improvement store. Filarsky
cities and counties to access subject expertise on a
probed Delia about the insulation in course of the
case-by-case basis without being saddled with a limited
number of permanently employed subject experts and without limiting options available to the government.
Two department officers, under order of the fire chief went to Deliaâ€™s house to confiscate the unopened rolls
The Supreme Court case is Filarsky v. Delia, No 10-
of insulation as evidence. Ultimately city officials closed
the case against Delia. However, Delia claimed the search was unconstitutional and sued the city, the fire department, and Filarsky.
Supreme Court rules private attorneys and individuals temporarily hired by government can claim the same legal immunity as public employees.