City of Los Angeles v. Lyons

PETITIONER: City of Los Angeles
LOCATION: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

DOCKET NO.: 81-1064
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 461 US 95 (1983)
ARGUED: Nov 02, 1982
DECIDED: Apr 20, 1983

Frederick N. Merkin - on behalf of Petitioner
Michael R. Mitchell - on behalf of Respondent

Facts of the case

In 1976, police officers of the City of Los Angeles stopped Adolph Lyons for a traffic code violation. Although Lyons offered no resistance, the officers, without provocation, seized Lyons and applied a chokehold. The hold rendered Lyons unconscious and damaged his larynx. Along with damages against the officers, Lyons sought an injunction against the City barring the use of such control holds.


Did Lyons's injunction against the use of police chokeholds meet the threshold requirements imposed by Article III of the Constitution?

Media for City of Los Angeles v. Lyons

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 02, 1982 in City of Los Angeles v. Lyons

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 20, 1983 in City of Los Angeles v. Lyons

Warren E. Burger:

Justice White has the judgments and opinions in several cases to announce for the Court.

Byron R. White:

The first case is City of Los Angeles against Lyons which is here in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The case began when Lyons -- the respondent, Lyons filed a complaint in United States District Court alleging that several months earlier he had been stopped for a traffic violation and that then without any provocation or legal excuse, the officer involved had choked him into unconsciousness and that he feared that the same thing would happen over again.

He sought in separate counts both damages and an injunction against the use of any of the departmentally authorized chokeholds except where the officer is threatened or was threatened with deadly force.

The District Court dismissed the injunctive count but the Court of Appeals reversed and the District Court then entered an injunction which the Court of Appeals affirmed.

We granted certiorari and we reverse.

We hold that although Lyons had ample standing to seek damages from what happened to him, he did not have standing to seek the injunction which he sought or which was entered by the District Court.

So, we reverse the judgment.

Justice Marshall joined by Justices Brennan, Blackmun, and Stevens has filed a dissenting opinion.