Seventh Circuit Clarifies Timing Of Qualified Immunity Appeals

In a case styled Fairley, et al. v. Fermaint, et al., No. 06-24, and in an opinion handed down on March 19, 2007, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that "in accord with Behrens and Toeller, that a public official may appeal from an order conclusively denying a motion (based on qualified immunity) seeking summary judgment, whether or not the official has appealed from an order denying a motion to dismiss the complaint, and whether or not the for summary judgment rests on new legal or factual arguments. But once a conclusive resolution has been reached at either stage, a renewed motion for the same relief, or a belated request for reconsideration, does not reopen the time for appeal." In that case, two former guards at Cook County Jail filed a Section 1983 action alleging some of their ex-colleagues violated the First Amendment for vilifying and assaulting them because they stood up for inmate's rights. The plaintiffs had filed an interlocutory appeal after their motion for summary judgment was denied, but had not previously filed an interlocutory appeal after their motion to dismiss was denied.  Finally, the court reiterated that "an interlocutory appeal is not the forum for resolving disputes about whether defendants did what plaintiffs accuse them of."