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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Los Angeles
(on behalf of Respondent)
(on behalf of Petitioner)
Facts of the Case 

In 1976, police officers of the City of Los Angeles stopped Adolph Lyons for a traffic code violation. Although Lyons offered no resistance, the officers, without provocation, seized Lyons and applied a chokehold. The hold rendered Lyons unconscious and damaged his larynx. Along with damages against the officers, Lyons sought an injunction against the City barring the use of such control holds.


Did Lyons's injunction against the use of police chokeholds meet the threshold requirements imposed by Article III of the Constitution?

Decision: 5 votes for Lyons, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Article 3, Section 2, Paragraph 1: Case or Controversy Requirement

No. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court held that federal courts were without jurisdiction to entertain Lyons' claim for injunctive relief. The fact that Lyons had been choked once did nothing to establish "a real and immediate threat that he would again be stopped. . .by an officer who would illegally choke him into unconsciousness." The Court held that in order to establish an actual controversy, Lyons would have to show either 1) that all Los Angeles police officers always choked citizens with whom they had encounters, or 2) that the City ordered or authorized officers to act in such a manner. Lyons was thus limited to suing the police and the city for individual damages.

Cite this Page
LOS ANGELES v. LYONS. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 29 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1982/1982_81_1064>.
LOS ANGELES v. LYONS, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1982/1982_81_1064 (last visited August 29, 2015).
"LOS ANGELES v. LYONS," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 29, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1982/1982_81_1064.