Armed with a pair of concurring statements from two Trump-appointed judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the defense bar is poised to take on the state-created danger doctrine, which some see as a way of holding state actors accountable for dangerous misconduct while others see it as having drifted too far from common-law tort concepts.

Last month, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit ruled unanimously to dismiss a lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia for the conduct of a 911 operator who gave firefighters the incorrect address of a burning building and also failed to tell them that three people were still in the building. All three died of smoke inhalation, but the Third Circuit determined that the surviving family member bringing the lawsuit failed to make a case under the state-created danger doctrine. The case is captioned Johnson v. City of Philadelphia.

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