Hafer v. Melo

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In Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25-31 (1991), the U.S. Supreme Court held that State officers are subject to § 1983 liability for damages in their personal capacities, even when the conduct in question relates to their official duties.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, writing for a unanimous 8-0 court, wrote that:

In Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 105 L. Ed. 2d 45, 109 S. Ct. 2304 (1989), we held that state officials "acting in their official capacities" are outside the class of "persons" subject to liability under Rev. Stat. § 1979, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 491 U.S. at 71. Petitioner takes this language to mean that § 1983 does not authorize suits against state officers for damages arising from official acts. We reject this reading of Will and hold that state officials sued in their individual capacities are "persons" for purposes of § 1983.