When a state actor creates or contributes to the danger that an individual faces from a third party, the state actor can be sued pursuant to the state-created danger doctrine. In the domestic-violence context, victims can sue individual police officers pursuant to the doctrine for responding inadequately to the victims’ calls for help, such as when officers refuse to arrest the batterers, fail to file incident reports, or harass the victims. However, because the doctrine formed from Supreme Court dicta, courts do not apply it uniformly. This Note proposes that Congress should enact a national standard for determining when police conduct in domestic-violence situations constitutes state-created danger. Holding police officers accountable for such conduct will force them to respond properly and, most importantly, protect victims. 27 The groundwork for the state-created danger doctrine arose from the U.S. Supreme Court decision in DeShaneym further harm
In order to state a valid claim under § 1983, an injured party must prove: (1) deprivation of a right secured by the United States Constitution; and (2) deprivation by a party acting under color of state law. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2006). While this Note argues substantive due process is the best theory for recovery, victims may sue pursuant to other theories. For example, a victim may sue for failure to provide equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment or for police negligence pursuant to state tort claims. See Laura S. Harper, Note, Battered Women Suing Police for Failure to Intervene: Viable Legal Avenues After DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services, 75 CORNELL L. REv. 1393, 1393-94 (1990) (discussing that an equal protection claim “may provide a more promising legal avenue for redress than a due process claim”).
Generally, the state has no duty to protect individuals from violence committed by third parties.2 6 However, an exception to this rule is the state-created danger doctrine. 27 The groundwork for the state-created danger doctrine arose from the U.S. Supreme Court decision in DeShaney
The Court held that the state only owes a duty to protect when the state takes an individual into custody, thereby literally depriving the individual of liberty.”