BEHRENS v. PELLETIER

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
94-1244
Petitioner 
Behrens
Respondent 
Pelletier
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
(Department of Justice, for the United States as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioner, urging reversal)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
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Facts of the Case 

After the Federal Home Loan Bank Board recommended that Robert Pelletier be replaced because of he was under investigation for potential misconduct relating to the collapse of another financial institution, he was fired as the provisional managing officer of Pioneer Savings and Loan Association. Pelletier then filed suit, seeking damages. John Behrens, the agent responsible for the Federal Home Loan Bank Board's recommendation, asserted a statute-of-limitations defense and claimed qualified immunity from suit on the ground that his actions were taken in a governmental capacity. The District Court rejected Behrens' defense of qualified immunity. On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that denial of qualified immunity is an immediately appealable "final" decision, that an official claiming qualified immunity is entitled to only one such pretrial appeal, and, ultimately, affirmed the District Court's rejection of Behrens' qualified immunity. On remand, the District Court denied Behrens' motion for summary judgment, which again claimed qualified immunity. On appeal from the latest denial, the Court of Appeals dismissed it for lack of jurisdiction.

Question 

Does a defendant's immediate appeal of an unfavorable qualified-immunity ruling on his motion to dismiss deprive the court of appeals of jurisdiction over a second appeal, also based on qualified immunity, immediately following denial of summary judgment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for Behrens, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: 28 U.S.C. 1291

No. In a 7-2 opinion delivered by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court held that the court of appeals was not deprived of jurisdiction. The Court reasoned that the agent was not limited in such circumstances to one interlocutory appeal from a denial of qualified immunity. Justice Scalia wrote that, "an order rejecting the defense of qualified immunity at either the dismissal stage or the summary judgment stage is a 'final' judgment subject to immediate appeal." In a dissent joined by Justice John Paul Stevens, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote, in such cases, "the law normally permits a single interlocutory appeal, and not more than one such appeal."

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BEHRENS v. PELLETIER. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 04 April 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1995/1995_94_1244>.
BEHRENS v. PELLETIER, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1995/1995_94_1244 (last visited April 4, 2014).
"BEHRENS v. PELLETIER," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed April 4, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1995/1995_94_1244.