Bishop v. Tice

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In Bishop v. Tice, 622 F.2d 349 (8th Cir. 1980), the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit rejected an absolute judicial immunity defense in connection with a claim that federal officials had forced plaintiff to quit his jobs. The Court noted that "[a] federal employee in the competitive service is entitled to challenge his dismissal as not justified by sufficient cause," and then denied immunity to defendants.

The 2-1 Eighth Circuit panel ruled that:

"defendants did not simply misuse their authority but went clearly beyond it by threatening Bishop with criminal charges instead of attempting to dismiss him for cause. Although federal supervisors would normally enjoy absolute immunity from liability in tort for actions relating to the discharge of their subordinates, see, e.g., Mandel v. Nouse, 509 F.2d 1031, 1033 (6th Cir. 1975), absolute immunity is lost when a supervisor adopts means beyond the outer perimeter of his authority. Given the allegations of the complaint and the absence of a record, we cannot say that any of the defendants are entitled to absolute immunity. The determination of qualified immunity, of course, must also await the proofs.

In summary, we conclude that [plaintiff] has stated a right of action under three distinct theories: (1) deprivation of procedural due process; (2) fraud and deceit; (3) contractual interference. None of these claims, we note, would be available in the ordinary case of an employee's dismissal or coerced resignation. This case is special inasmuch as the complaint alleges that the means used to effect the plaintiff's termination from employment were also used to preclude his resort to administrative remedies. No absolute immunity is available on a claim that plaintiff's constitutional rights have been deprived. Nor can we say defendants are entitled to absolute immunity on the state tort claims, for aught that appears the actions alleged were clearly beyond their official authority.