A §1983 plaintiff who establishes a violation of constitutional rights may be awarded compensatory damages for her actual injuries. These damages may include “special damages” for specific “out-of-pocket” pecuniary losses, such as medical expenses, property damage, lost future earnings and loss of earning capacity. General damages include compensation for physical impairment, physical pain and suffering, and mental and emotional distress.
This column focuses on damages from lost earning capacity resulting from an arresting officer’s infliction of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. We will work from Masters v. City of Independence, 998 F. 3d 827 (8th Cir. 2021), which found expert testimony to prove lost earning capacity admissible. Masters also resolved issues pertaining to qualified immunity and punitive damages. We will flag these and other issues along the way.