Friday, August 01, 2003

Struck employer as "state actor" for section 1983 claims of arrested picketers

In Rodriguez v. Smithfield Packing Co., Inc., the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Wilkinson, joined by Judge Motz and Senior Judge Beezer of the Ninth Circuit, held that (1) release-dismissal agreements were enforceable and were a valid defense to the plaintiffs' constitutional claims against law enforcement officials, and (2) the employer, Smithfield Packing, was not liable under section 1983 municipal liability standards for the alleged bad acts of the law enforcement officers it had hired to police a strike.

This last point seems kind of garbled to me, they say Smithfield could be considered a state actor because it had these police officers there, but then that "Smithfield Packing could not have delegated any policymaking authority over arrests to Priest, because the company had no authority over county law enforcement policies that it could have delegated." Why not just say that Smithfield was not a state actor and could not be sued at all under section 1983?

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