Gomez v. Toledo Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Plaintiff Carlos Rivera Gomez brought an action against Defendant Toledo, the Superintendent of the Police of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. He alleged that Defendant had violated his right to procedural due process by terminating his employment with the Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Bureau.

Facts of the case

Question

Whether, in an action against a public official whose position might entitle him to qualified immunity, a plaintiff must allege that the official has acted in bad faith, or alternatively, whether the defendant must plead good faith as an affirmative defense.

Answer

No. The decision of the Court of Appeals was reversed and the case remanded.
Nothing in the language of Section: 1983 suggest that an action against a public official who might receive qualified immunity must allege bad faith in order to state a valid claim for relief.

Conclusion

The Supreme Court of the United States reversed the appellate court’s judgment and remanded the case to that court for further proceedings. The Court ruled that in an action brought under § 1983 against a public official whose position might entitle him to immunity if he acted in good faith, a plaintiff was not required to allege that the official acted in bad faith in order to state a claim for relief. The burden was on the public official to plead qualified immunity as a defense. As such, Gomez was required only to allege that he was deprived of a federal right and that Toledo, the person who deprived him of it, did so under color of state law. Gomez satisfied the pleading requirements to state a cause of action under § 1983.

  • Case Brief: 1980
  • Petitioner: Gomez
  • Respondent: Toledo
  • Decided by: Burger Court

Citation: 446 US 635 (1980)
Argued: Apr 16, 1980
Decided: May 27, 1980