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Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 403 U.S. 388, 91 S. Ct. 1999, 29 L. Ed. 2d 619 (1971)

Brief Fact Summary. Petitioner alleged damages resulting from a federal agent acting unlawfully.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Actions for damages may be brought against federal agents acting unlawfully as they carry out their duties of the United States.


Facts. Petitioner’s complaint alleged that agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (Respondents) acting under claim of federal authority, entered his apartment and arrested him for alleged narcotics violations. The agents manacled Petitioner in front of his wife and children, threatened to arrest the entire family, and searched the apartment. Petitioner also alleges that the arrest was conducted with unreasonable force and without probable cause. Petitioner sought $15,000.00 in damages for “great humiliation, embarrassment, and mental suffering.” The district court, on Respondents’ motion, dismissed the complaint on the ground, inter alia, that it failed to state a cause of action. The court of appeals affirmed.

Issue. Whether a federal agent acting under color of his authority gives rise to a cause of action for damages consequent upon his unconstitutional conduct.

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