Brief Fact Summary.
Wood sought to dismiss Schultea’s claim that the city sought to demote Schultea for investigating city officials for criminal activity.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
The ruling in Leatherman does not prevent courts from requiring heightened pleading standards for claims of qualified immunity.
Schultea, a former police chief, filed suit against the city manager and three city councilmen, including Wood. Schultea claimed that Wood sought to demote Schultea because he was investigating city officials for criminal activity. Wood sought to dismiss Schultea’s claims and the panel allowed Schultea to amend his complaint.
Whether the ruling in Leatherman prevents courts from requiring heightened pleading standards for claims of qualified immunity?
No. The decision is affirmed in part and reversed in part. Suits filed against public officials must be stated with particularity, and allege more than conclusions. Schultea is permitted to amend and plead his First Amendment rights claim and reversed the dismissal of the due process claims.
The Leatherman holding does not prevent causes of action subject to qualified immunity from alleging more than mere conclusions. Elliott v. Perez, 751 F.2d 1472 (1985), allows a plaintiff to provide facts that would defeat a defendant’s claim to immunity.