New opinions — reversal of civil-rights dismissal and an amended opinion

CA3 issued a remarkable reversal today in an appeal from dismissal of a 1983 suit. It all started when Lagano, a mob informant, was murdered. Apparently the mob found out he was informing and killed him. Lagano’s estate sued the local prosecutor’s office and the chief detective, alleging that they leaked Lagano’s informant-status to the mob. The 3-count suit was brought under both 1983 and NJ law. The district judge (a Clinton appointee and a Spottswood Robinson clerk) dismissed the entire suit, on several grounds: 1983 personhood, Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity, qualified immunity, and statute of limitations.

Suffice to day CA3 did not see things the way the district court did. It reversed on personhood (on two independent grounds) and sovereign immunity and qualified immunity. But it did affirm on statute of limitations (which applied only to 1 of the 3 counts).

The case is Estate of Lagano v. Bergen Co. Prosecutor’s Office. Opinion by Vanaskie, joined by Chagares and Greenaway. Arguing counsel were David Ragonese (he’s since become a state judge) for the estate and Brian Flanagan for the prosecutor’s office and investigator.

Today’s other opinion was an amended opinion in a notable prisoner-rights case originally decided in August. The case is Montanez v. Secretary, my post on the original opinion is here. At a glance, the result appears unchanged. I’ll update this post if I figure out what’s different.