JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.
In this case, we are asked to determine if a municipality can ever be liable under 42 U. S. C. § 1983
In April 1978, respondent Geraldine Harris was arrested by officers of the Canton Police Department. Mrs. Harris was brought to the police station in a patrol wagon.
When she arrived at the station, Mrs. Harris was found sitting on the floor of the wagon. She was asked if she needed medical attention, and responded with an incoherent remark. After she was brought inside the station for processing, Mrs. Harris slumped to the floor on two occasions. Eventually, the police officers left Mrs. Harris lying on the floor to prevent her from falling again. No medical attention was ever summoned for Mrs. Harris. After about an hour, Mrs. Harris was released from custody, and taken by an ambulance (provided by her family) to a nearby hospital. There, Mrs. Harris was diagnosed as suffering from several emotional ailments; she was hospitalized for one week and received subsequent outpatient treatment for an additional year.
Some time later, Mrs. Harris commenced this action alleging many state-law and constitutional claims against the city of Canton and its officials. Among these claims was one seeking to hold the city liable under 42 U. S. C. § 1983 for its violation of Mrs. Harris' right, under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, to receive necessary medical attention while in police custody.
A jury trial was held on Mrs. Harris' claims. Evidence was presented that indicated that, pursuant to a municipal regulation,
At the close of the evidence, the District Court submitted the case to the jury, which rejected all of Mrs. Harris' claims except one: her § 1983 claim against the city resulting from its failure to provide her with medical treatment while in custody. In rejecting the city's subsequent motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, the District Court explained the theory of liability as follows:
On appeal, the Sixth Circuit affirmed this aspect of the District Court's analysis, holding that "a municipality is liable for failure to train its police force, [where] the plaintiff . . . prove[s] that the municipality acted recklessly, intentionally, or with gross negligence." Id., at 5a.
The city petitioned for certiorari, arguing that the Sixth Circuit's holding represented an impermissible broadening of municipal liability under § 1983. We granted the petition. 485 U.S. 933 (1988).
We first address respondent's contention that the writ of certiorari should be dismissed as improvidently granted, because "petitioner failed to preserve for review the principal issues it now argues in this Court." Brief for Respondent 5.
We think it clear enough that petitioner's three "Questions Presented" in its petition for certiorari encompass the critical question before us in this case: Under what circumstances can inadequate training be found to be a "policy" that is actionable under § 1983? See Pet. for Cert. i. The petition itself addressed this issue directly, attacking the Sixth Circuit's "failure to train" theory as inconsistent with this Court's precedents. See id., at 8-12. It is also clear — as respondent conceded at argument, Tr. of Oral Arg. 34, 54 — that her brief in opposition to our granting of certiorari did not raise the objection that petitioner had failed to press its claims on the courts below.
As to respondent's contention that the claims made by petitioner here were not made in the same fashion below, that
It is true that petitioner's litigation posture with respect to the questions presented here has not been consistent; most importantly, petitioner conceded below that " `inadequate training' [is] a means of establishing municipal liability under Section 1983." Reply Brief for Petitioner 4, n. 3; see also Petition for Rehearing in No. 85-3314 (CA6), p. 1. However, at each stage in the proceedings below, petitioner contested any finding of liability on this ground, with objections of varying specificity. It opposed the District Court's jury instructions on this issue, Tr. 4-369; claimed in its judgment notwithstanding verdict motion that there was "no evidence of a . . . policy or practice on the part of the City . . . [of] den[ying] medical treatment to prisoners," Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding Verdict in No. C80-18-A (ND Ohio), p. 1; and argued to the Court of Appeals that there was no basis for finding a policy of denying medical treatment to prisoners in this case. See Brief for Appellant in No. 85-3314 (CA6), pp. 26-29. Indeed, petitioner specifically contended that the Sixth Circuit precedents that permitted inadequate training to be a basis for municipal liability on facts similar to these, see n. 3, supra, were in conflict with
Here the Sixth Circuit held that where a plaintiff proves that a municipality, acting recklessly, intentionally, or with gross negligence, has failed to train its police force — resulting in a deprivation of constitutional rights that was "substantially certain to result" — § 1983 permits that municipality to be held liable for its actions. Petitioner's petition for certiorari challenged the soundness of that conclusion, and respondent did not inform us prior to the time that review was granted that petitioner had arguably conceded this point below. Consequently, we will not abstain from addressing the question before us.
In Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), we decided that a municipality can be found liable under § 1983 only where the municipality itself causes the constitutional violation at issue. Respondeat superior or vicarious liability will not attach under § 1983. Id., at 694-695. "It is only when the `execution of the government's policy or custom . . . inflicts the injury' that the municipality may be held liable under § 1983." Springfield v. Kibbe, 480 U.S. 257, 267 (1987) (O'CONNOR, J., dissenting) (quoting Monell, supra, at 694).
Thus, our first inquiry in any case alleging municipal liability under § 1983 is the question whether there is a direct causal link between a municipal policy or custom and the alleged constitutional deprivation. The inquiry is a difficult one; one that has left this Court deeply divided in a series of
Based on the difficulty that this Court has had defining the contours of municipal liability in these circumstances, petitioner urges us to adopt the rule that a municipality can be found liable under § 1983 only where "the policy in question [is] itself unconstitutional." Brief for Petitioner 15. Whether such a rule is a valid construction of § 1983 is a question the Court has left unresolved. See, e. g., St. Louis v. Praprotnik, supra, at 147 (BRENNAN, J., concurring in judgment); Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, supra, at 824, n. 7. Under such an approach, the outcome here would be rather clear: we would have to reverse and remand the case with instructions that judgment be entered for petitioner.
Nor, without more, would a city automatically be liable under § 1983 if one of its employees happened to apply the policy in an unconstitutional manner, for liability would then rest on respondeat superior. The claim in this case, however, is that if a concededly valid policy is unconstitutionally applied by a municipal employee, the city is liable if the employee has not been adequately trained and the constitutional wrong has been caused by that failure to train. For reasons explained below, we conclude, as have all the Courts of Appeals that have addressed this issue,
Though we agree with the court below that a city can be liable under § 1983 for inadequate training of its employees, we cannot agree that the District Court's jury instructions on this issue were proper, for we conclude that the Court of Appeals provided an overly broad rule for when a municipality can be held liable under the "failure to train" theory. Unlike the question whether a municipality's failure to train employees can ever be a basis for § 1983 liability — on which the Courts of Appeals have all agreed, see n. 6, supra, — there is substantial division among the lower courts as to what degree of fault must be evidenced by the municipality's inaction before liability will be permitted.
Monell's rule that a city is not liable under § 1983 unless a municipal policy causes a constitutional deprivation will not be satisfied by merely alleging that the existing training program for a class of employees, such as police officers, represents a policy for which the city is responsible.
In resolving the issue of a city's liability, the focus must be on adequacy of the training program in relation to the tasks the particular officers must perform. That a particular officer may be unsatisfactorily trained will not alone suffice to fasten liability on the city, for the officer's shortcomings may
Moreover, for liability to attach in this circumstance the identified deficiency in a city's training program must be closely related to the ultimate injury. Thus in the case at hand, respondent must still prove that the deficiency in training actually caused the police officers' indifference to her medical needs.
To adopt lesser standards of fault and causation would open municipalities to unprecedented liability under § 1983.
Consequently, while claims such as respondent's — alleging that the city's failure to provide training to municipal employees resulted in the constitutional deprivation she suffered — are cognizable under § 1983, they can only yield liability against a municipality where that city's failure to train reflects deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of its inhabitants.
The final question here is whether this case should be remanded for a new trial, or whether, as petitioner suggests, we should conclude that there are no possible grounds on which respondent can prevail. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 57-58. It is true that the evidence in the record now does not meet the standard of § 1983 liability we have set forth above. But, the standard of proof the District Court ultimately imposed on respondent (which was consistent with Sixth Circuit precedent) was a lesser one than the one we adopt today, see Tr. 4-389-4-390. Whether respondent should have an opportunity to prove her case under the "deliberate indifference" rule we have adopted is a matter for the Court of Appeals to deal with on remand.
Consequently, for the reasons given above, we vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand this case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
JUSTICE BRENNAN, concurring.
The Court's opinion, which I join, makes clear that the Court of Appeals is free to remand this case for a new trial.
JUSTICE O'CONNOR, with whom JUSTICE SCALIA and JUSTICE KENNEDY join, concurring in part and dissenting in part.
I join Parts I and II and all of Part III of the Court's opinion except footnote 11, see ante, at 390, n. 11. I thus agree that where municipal policymakers are confronted with an obvious need to train city personnel to avoid the violation of constitutional rights and they are deliberately indifferent to that need, the lack of necessary training may be appropriately considered a city "policy" subjecting the city itself to liability under our decision in Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). As the Court observes, "[o]nly where a failure to train reflects a `deliberate' or `conscious' choice by a municipality — a `policy' as defined by our prior cases — can a city be liable for such a failure under [42 U. S. C.] § 1983." Ante, at 389. I further agree that a § 1983 plaintiff pressing a "failure to train" claim must prove that the lack of training was the "cause" of the constitutional injury at issue and that this entails more than simply showing "but for" causation. Ante, at 392. Lesser requirements of fault and causation in this context would "open municipalities to unprecedented liability under § 1983," ante, at 391, and would pose serious federalism concerns. Ante, at 392.
My single point of disagreement with the majority is thus a small one. Because I believe, as the majority strongly hints,
In Monell, the Court held that municipal liability can be imposed under § 1983 only where the municipality, as an entity, can be said to be "responsible" for a constitutional violation committed by one of its employees. "[T]he touchstone of the § 1983 action against a government body is an allegation that official policy is responsible for a deprivation of rights protected by the Constitution." 436 U. S., at 690. The Court found that the language of § 1983, and rejection of the "Sherman Amendment" by the 42d Congress, were both strong indicators that the framers of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 did not intend that municipal governments be held vicariously liable for the constitutional torts of their employees. Thus a § 1983 plaintiff seeking to attach liability to the city for the acts of one of its employees may not rest on the employment relationship alone; both fault and causation as to the acts or omissions of the city itself must be proved. The Court reaffirms these requirements today.
Where, as here, a claim of municipal liability is predicated upon a failure to act, the requisite degree of fault must be
Such results would be directly contrary to the intent of the drafters of § 1983. The central vice of the Sherman Amendment, as noted by the Court's opinion in Monell, was that it "impose[d] a species of vicarious liability on municipalities since it could be construed to impose liability even if the municipality did not know of an impending or ensuing riot or did not have the wherewithal to do anything about it." 436 U. S., at 692, n. 57 (emphasis added). Moreover, as noted in Monell, the authors of § 1 of the Ku Klux Act did not intend to create any new rights or duties beyond those contained in the Constitution. Id., at 684-685. Thus, § 1 was referred to as "reenacting the Constitution." Cong. Globe, 42d Cong., 1st Sess., 569 (1871) (Rep. Edmunds). Representative Bingham, the author of § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, saw the purpose of § 1983 as "the enforcement . . . of the Constitution on behalf of every individual citizen of the Republic . . . to the extent of the rights guaranteed to him by the Constitution." Id., at App. 81. See also Chapman v. Houston Welfare Rights Organization, 441 U.S. 600, 617 (1979) ("[Section] 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 did not provide for any substantive rights — equal or otherwise. As introduced and enacted, it served only to insure that an individual had a cause of action for violations of the Constitution").
Sensitive to these concerns, the Court's opinion correctly requires a high degree of fault on the part of city officials before an omission that is not in itself unconstitutional can support liability as a municipal policy under Monell. As the Court indicates, "it may happen that . . . the need for more or different training is so obvious, and the inadequacy so likely to result in the violation of constitutional rights, that the policymakers of the city can reasonably be said to have been deliberately indifferent to the need." Ante, at 390. Where a § 1983 plaintiff can establish that the facts available to city policymakers put them on actual or constructive notice that the particular omission is substantially certain to result in the violation of the constitutional rights of their citizens, the dictates of Monell are satisfied. Only then can it be said that the municipality has made " `a deliberate choice to follow a course of action . . . from among various alternatives.' " Ante, at 389, quoting Pembaur v. Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469, 483-484 (1986).
In my view, it could be shown that the need for training was obvious in one of two ways. First, a municipality could fail to train its employees concerning a clear constitutional duty implicated in recurrent situations that a particular employee is certain to face. As the majority notes, see ante, at 390, n. 10, the constitutional limitations established by this Court on the use of deadly force by police officers present one such situation. The constitutional duty of the individual officer is clear, and it is equally clear that failure to inform city personnel of that duty will create an extremely high risk that constitutional violations will ensue.
The claim in this case — that police officers were inadequately trained in diagnosing the symptoms of emotional illness — falls far short of the kind of "obvious" need for training
Second, I think municipal liability for failure to train may be proper where it can be shown that policymakers were aware of, and acquiesced in, a pattern of constitutional violations involving the exercise of police discretion. In such cases, the need for training may not be obvious from the outset, but a pattern of constitutional violations could put the municipality on notice that its officers confront the particular situation on a regular basis, and that they often react in a manner contrary to constitutional requirements. The lower courts that have applied the "deliberate indifference" standard we adopt today have required a showing of a pattern of violations from which a kind of "tacit authorization" by city policymakers can be inferred. See, e. g., Fiacco v. Rensselaer, 783 F.2d 319, 327 (CA2 1986) (multiple incidents required for finding of deliberate indifference); Patzner v. Burkett, 779 F.2d 1363, 1367 (CA8 1985) ("[A] municipality may be liable if it had notice of prior misbehavior by its officers and failed to take remedial steps amounting to deliberate indifference to the offensive acts"); Languirand v. Hayden, 717 F.2d 220, 227-228 (CA5 1983) (municipal liability for failure to train requires "evidence at least of a pattern of similar
The Court's opinion recognizes this requirement, see ante, at 390, and n. 10, but declines to evaluate the evidence presented in this case in light of the new legal standard. Ante, at 392. From the outset of this litigation, respondent has pressed a claim that the city of Canton had a custom of denying medical care to pretrial detainees with emotional disorders. See Amended Complaint ¶ 28, App. 27. Indeed, up to and including oral argument before this Court, counsel for respondent continued to assert that respondent was attempting to hinge municipal liability upon "both a custom of denying medical care to a certain class of prisoners, and a failure to train police that led to this particular violation." Tr. of Oral Arg. 37-38. At the time respondent filed her complaint in 1980, it was clear that proof of the existence of a custom entailed a showing of "practices . . . so permanent and well settled as to constitute a `custom or usage' with the force of law." Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 168 (1970); see also Garner v. Memphis Police Department, 600 F.2d 52, 54-55, and n. 4 (CA6 1979) (discussing proof of custom in light of Monell).
Whatever the prevailing standard at the time concerning liability for failure to train, respondent thus had every incentive to adduce proof at trial of a pattern of violations to support her claim that the city had an unwritten custom of denying medical care to emotionally ill detainees. In fact, respondent presented no testimony from any witness indicating that there had been past incidents of "deliberate indifference" to the medical needs of emotionally disturbed detainees or that any other circumstance had put the city on actual or constructive notice of a need for additional training in this
Allowing an inadequate training claim such as this one to go to the jury based upon a single incident would only invite jury nullification of Monell. "To infer the existence of a city policy from the isolated misconduct of a single, low-level officer, and then to hold the city liable on the basis of that policy,
"Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress. . . ."
"shall, when a prisoner is found to be unconscious or semi-unconscious, or when he or she is unable to explain his or her condition, or who complains of being ill, have such person taken to a hospital for medical treatment, with permission of his supervisor before admitting the person to City Jail." App. 33.
However, to the extent that this claim poses a distinct basis for the city's liability under § 1983, we decline to determine whether respondent's contention that such a "custom" existed is an alternative ground for affirmance. The "custom" claim was not passed on by the Court of Appeals — nor does it appear to have been presented to that court as a distinct ground for its decision. See Brief of Appellee in No. 85-3314 (CA6), pp. 4-9, 11. Thus, we will not consider it here.
In addition, six current Members of this Court have joined opinions in the past that have (at least implicitly) endorsed this theory of liability under § 1983. See Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, supra, at 829-831 (BRENNAN, J., joined by MARSHALL and BLACKMUN, JJ., concurring in part and concurring in judgment); Springfield v. Kibbe, supra, at 268-270 (O'CONNOR, J., joined by REHNQUIST, C. J., and Powell and WHITE, JJ., dissenting).
We need not resolve here the question left open in Revere for two reasons. First, petitioner has conceded that, as the case comes to us, we must assume that respondent's constitutional right to receive medical care was denied by city employees — whatever the nature of that right might be. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 8-9. Second, the proper standard for determining when a municipality will be liable under § 1983 for constitutional wrongs does not turn on any underlying culpability test that determines when such wrongs have occurred. Cf. Brief for Respondent 27.
"Obviously, if one retreats far enough from a constitutional violation some municipal `policy' can be identified behind almost any . . . harm inflicted by a municipal official; for example, [a police officer] would never have killed Tuttle if Oklahoma City did not have a `policy' of establishing a police force. But Monell must be taken to require proof of a city policy different in kind from this latter example before a claim can be sent to a jury on the theory that a particular violation was `caused' by the municipal `policy.' " 471 U. S., at 823. Cf. also id., at 833, n. 9 (opinion of BRENNAN, J.).
It could also be that the police, in exercising their discretion, so often violate constitutional rights that the need for further training must have been plainly obvious to the city policymakers, who, nevertheless, are "deliberately indifferent" to the need.