Court Opinions: 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion for Dec. 5

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

Editor’s Note: Law Week Colorado edits court opinion summaries for style and, when necessary, length.

Mahdi v. Salt Lake Police Department, et al. 

On the morning of April 8, 2019, Harold Robinson embarked on a shooting spree that included two armed robberies in the Salt Lake City area. He led officers from several departments on a high-speed chase that lasted around 20 minutes. During this pursuit, Robinson fired multiple rounds from a rifle, sometimes aiming at police. The pursuit ended when Robinson crashed into Princess Alterations.

Princess Alterations is a tailor shop owned by Thaer Madhdi, who, at the time of the crash, was working in the open store. Within seconds, at least 15 officers surrounded Robinson’s vehicle and began firing, discharging 196 bullets in 20 seconds. 

Dozens of bullets entered Mahdi’s shop, and his inventory and machines were destroyed. Mahdi faces continued psychological distress because of the shooting and is physically unable to enter the shop, according to his attorneys. He was forced into retirement and lost significant income. 

Mahdi sued the Salt Lake Police Department and multiple individuals. Mahdi argued that the responding officers used excessive force in violation of his substantive due process under the 14th Amendment and that the officers’ unconstitutional use of force resulted from the superintendent’s failure to train and supervise subordinates. 

A district court dismissed the lawsuit for failure to state a claim and Mahdi requested leave to file a second amended complaint. A U.S. District Court for the District of Utah denied the motion and dismissed the lawsuit. 

Mahdi appealed both the dismissal and denied a motion to file an amended complaint. 

A 10th Circuit Court of Appeals panel out of Salt Lake City wrote that Mahdi’s constitutional right to substantive due process wasn’t violated because the officers didn’t have the opportunity to deliberate before firing their weapons, and he didn’t allege that any officer intended to harm him. 

The 10th Circuit affirmed the district court’s order dismissing Mahdi’s 14th Amendment claims and denying his motion for leave to file a second amended complaint. 

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