Zinermon v. Burch Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Darrell Burch (Respondent) brought this action under 42 U.S.C. Section:1983 against 11 Florida State Hospital (FSH) physicians, administrators and staff (Petitioners), alleging they deprived him of his liberty without due process of law by admitting him as a “voluntary” mental patient when he was incompetent to give informed consent to his admission.

Facts of the case


What is the proper scope of the Parratt rule?


Respondent’s complaint was sufficient to state a claim under Section:1983 for violation of his procedural due process rights. Parratt and Hudson come into play in special cases of the general Mathews v. Eldridge analysis where postdeprivation are all the process that is due, simply because they are the only remedies the State could be expected to provide. This case was not controlled by Parratt and Hudson for three basic reasons. First, the deprivation of liberty was not unpredictable, because an error will occur, if at all, in the admission process. Second, a predeprivation process was not impossible here. The Florida statutes did not direct any facility staff to determine whether a person was competent to give consent. Because Petitioners had state authority to deprive persons of liberty, the Constitution required them to concomitant duty to see that no deprivation occurred without adequate procedural protections. Third, Petitioners’ conduct was not unauthorized because the statute delegated broad authority to them to effect the deprivation complained of here. Dissent. Pratt and Hudson should readily govern procedural due process claims like respondent’s. Concurrence. None.


  • Case Brief: 1990
  • Petitioner: Zinermon
  • Respondent: Burch
  • Decided by: Rehnquist Court

Citation: 494 US 113 (1990)
Argued: Oct 11, 1989
Decided: Feb 27, 1990