City of Canton, Ohio v. Harris

PETITIONER:City of Canton, Ohio
RESPONDENT:Geraldine Harris
LOCATION:Canton Police Department

DOCKET NO.: 86-1088
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 489 US 378 (1989)
ARGUED: Nov 08, 1988
DECIDED: Feb 28, 1989
GRANTED: Mar 07, 1988

Carter G. Phillips – on behalf of the Petitioner
David Rudovsky – on behalf of the Respondents

Facts of the case

Officers of the Canton Police Department arrested Geraldine Harris on April 26, 1978 and brought her to the police station. Upon arrival, the officers found Harris sitting on the floor of the patrol wagon. They asked if she needed medical attention, and she responded incoherently. Inside the station, Harris twice slumped to the floor, and the officers eventually left her lying on the floor. She received no medical care. An hour later, Harris was released and taken to a nearby hospital in an ambulance her family provided. Harris was diagnosed with various emotional conditions and hospitalized.

Harris sued the city of Canton for violating her Fourteenth Amendment right to Due Process by denying her medical attention when she was in police custody. At the jury trial in federal district court, evidence indicated that the decision to provide medical attention is left to the discretion of shift managers who had not received adequate training on this subject. The jury found in favor of Harris. The city appealed, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the judgment and remanded the case because of unclear jury instructions.


Is a municipality liable for failure to provide adequate training to an employee that resulted in a deprivation of constitutional rights?

Media for City of Canton, Ohio v. Harris

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 08, 1988 in City of Canton, Ohio v. Harris

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – February 28, 1989 in City of Canton, Ohio v. Harris

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in two cases will be announced by Justice White.

Byron R. White:

In the first of these is number 86-1088 City of Canton against Harris, and for the reason stated in an opinion in own filed with the clerk, the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is vacated and remanded.

Justice Brennan has filed a concurring opinion.

Justice O?Connor has filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part in which Justices Scalia and Kennedy have joined.