that plaintiff was a juvenile. Further investigation based on plaintiff's claim that he had a valid driver's license, however, indicated that plaintiff was in fact an adult. Faced with this situation, defendants determined, incorrectly, that plaintiff was an adult.
Defendants were negligent in determining that plaintiff was an adult. The best course of action for the arresting officers to follow would have been to proceed on the assumption that plaintiff was a juvenile, pending further investigation. Such action would have prevented the tragic mistake which was made in this case. However, the officers did make some attempts to verify plaintiff's age, and the record contains no evidence that their actions constituted more than mere negligence. As a result, plaintiff's claim that the individual officers violated his due process rights must fail.
2. Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment Claim
The Eighth Amendment provides prisoners with the right to be free from attacks by fellow inmates. Riley v. Jeffes, 777 F.2d 143 (3d Cir. 1985). To succeed in this claim, however, plaintiff must demonstrate that officials have shown "deliberate indifference" to his safety. Id. As discussed supra, the actions of the named individual defendants were merely negligent; thus, plaintiff's eighth amendment claim also must fail.
3. Plaintiff's federal statutory claim
Section 1983 provides not only a private right of action for constitutional violations, but also for certain "claims based on purely statutory violations of federal law" by state actors. Maine v. Thiboutot, 448 U.S. 1, 65 L. Ed. 2d 555, 100 S. Ct. 2502 (1980). To recover for such a statutory violation, plaintiff must demonstrate that the federal statute in question creates an enforceable right. Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman, 451 U.S. 1, 67 L. Ed. 2d 694, 101 S. Ct. 1531 (1981) ("Pennhurst I").
The Supreme Court has held that where a statute creates an entitlement program, a private right enforceable under § 1983 exists. Thiboutot, 448 U.S. 1, 65 L. Ed. 2d 555, 100 S. Ct. 2502 . In contrast, where a statute "does no more than express a congressional preference for certain kinds of treatment," no private enforceable right exists. Pennhurst I, 451 U.S. at 19. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (the "Act"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 5633(a)(12)-(14), provides that in order to obtain the federal funding made available under the Act, a state must not incarcerate juveniles in any institution in which they would have regular contact with adults.
In enacting subsections 12 through 14 of the Act, Congress conferred a particular benefit on a distinct class: the class of juvenile detainees. Hendrickson v. Griggs, 672 F. Supp. 1126, 1135 (N.D. Iowa 1987). I find that "the benefits Congress intended to confer on [juveniles] are sufficiently specific and definite to qualify as enforceable rights," Wright v. Roanoke Redev. & Housing Authority, 479 U.S. 418, 432, 93 L. Ed. 2d 781, 107 S. Ct. 766 (1987), and the Act creates a private right of action under § 1983.
I cannot, however, find that in enacting this statute Congress intended to extend this private right of action to cover suits against individual arresting officers such as defendants Keates and Zimath. The Act simply sets forth the prerequisites with which state agencies must comply to obtain certain federal funds. As a result, I find that Congress intended to provide a private right of action only against state and/or local agencies eligible for funding under the Act.
Moreover, even if the Act did create a private right of action against individual police officers within the meaning of section 1983, defendants Keates and Zimath are protected from liability by a qualified immunity. Qualified immunity is available unless the official "knew or reasonably should have known" that his actions would violate the plaintiff's rights. Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 815, 73 L. Ed. 2d 396, 102 S. Ct. 2727 (1982). Here, the question of whether the Act creates a right in favor of individual plaintiffs is a difficult one. The answer is not one that individual officers reasonably should have known.
An appropriate order follows.
AND NOW, this 13th day of September, 1989, upon consideration of plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and the responses of defendants, JUDGMENT is hereby ENTERED in favor of defendants and against plaintiff.