Marshall v. Columbia Lea Regional Hospital
345 F.3d 1157 (2003)

  • Marshall was an African-American who was fearful of the police. When a policeman (Porter) from the Hobbs City police department tried to pull him over for an alleged minor traffic violation, Marshall drove until he could get to an area with witnesses before pulling over.
  • Porter arrested Marshall and accused him of being under the influence. At the jail two breathalizer tests were performed, which Marshall passed.
  • Porter and another policeman (Roye) took Marshall to Columbia Lea Hospital and they performed a blood test, which revealed the presence of marijuana.
    • Porter did not have a warrant.
  • Marshall was arrested and charged with resisting arrest drug possession, and driving under the influence.
    • The District Attorney eventually dropped the charges.
  • Marshall sued Porter and Columbia Lea under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for violating his civil rights.
    • Marshall produced extensive evidence of Porter's previous misconduct, including getting fired from another police department for violating civil rights and planting evidence.
    • Marshall also produced evidence about alleged civil rights violations by the Hobbs police in general.
  • The Trial Court found for Porter and Columbia Lea in summary judgment. Marshall appealed.
  • The Appellate Court partially reversed and remanded for trial.
    • The Appellate Court found that Marshall's failure to pull over once ordered to by Porter established sufficient probable cause to support the stop and the arrest.
    • The Court looked to Whren v. United States (517 U.S. 806 (1996)) and found that even if Porter's behavior was legal under 4th Amendment rules for searches and seizures, it could still be unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
    • The Court found that in order to prevail, Marshall had to demonstrate that Porter's actions had a discriminatory effect and were motivated by a discriminatory purpose.
      • The Court found that Marshall met this burden, and therefore the case should not have been dismissed on summary judgment.
  • On remand, The Trial Court found for Marshall. Porter appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that Porter and Roye had violated Marshall's 4th Amendment rights, and ordered them to pay damages of $490k.
    • The Trial Court found that Hobbes City was immune and so granted them the judgment as a matter of law.
  • The Appellate Court affirmed.
    • Porter and Roye unsuccessfully argued that they should have had qualified immunity because at the time they ordered Columbia Lea to take Marshall's blood there was no clearly established law precluding a warrantless nonconsensual blood test.