Brown v. Grabowski - Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)
In Brown v. Grabowski, 922 F.2d 1097, 1113 (3d Cir.1990), the plaintiff argued that there was an exception to the general rule stated in DeShaney based upon the claim that the New Jersey Domestic Violence Act, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:25-7 (1982), created a special relationship between the plaintiff's decedent and the police, obligating the police to provide the plaintiff's decedent with access to the courts.
Under that statute, the police are required to inform a victim of domestic violence about her right to obtain a restraining order in civil court against her attacker.
In Brown, the plaintiff's decedent was found frozen to death in the trunk of her car in a motel parking lot after being abducted by her boyfriend.
On a previous occasion, the boyfriend held her hostage for three days, during which he repeatedly threatened and sexually assaulted her. Although the decedent's family reported this episode to the police, no criminal charges were filed against the boyfriend.
In granting summary judgment on the plaintiff's claim that the police violated the victim's due process right to police protection, the Third Circuit found that the plaintiff did not set forth a cognizable claim under § 1983 because the Domestic Violence Act did not create a special relationship between the victim and the police. Brown, 922 F.2d at 1113-14.