City of Springfield v. Kibbe - 480 U.S. 257 (1987)
U.S. Supreme Court
City of Springfield v. Kibbe, 480 U.S. 257 (1987)
City of Springfield v. Kibbe
Argued November 4, 1986
Decided February 25, 1987
480 U.S. 257
Certiorari was granted in this case to resolve the question whether, consistently with the decision in Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services, 436 U. S. 658, a municipality can be held liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for inadequate training of its employees. In addressing that issue, this Court anticipated that, under its Rule 21. 1(a), it would be able to reach the "fairly included" related question whether more than negligence in training is required in order to establish such liability. However, in the District Court, petitioner city did not object to the jury instruction stating that gross negligence would suffice, and in fact proposed its own instruction to the same effect. Nor did it argue for a higher standard than gross negligence in the Court of Appeals.
Held: The writ of certiorari is dismissed as improvidently granted. Although petitioner argues here that a heightened negligence standard does not suffice under Monell's requirement of a municipal policy, this Court ordinarily will not decide questions not raised or litigated in the lower courts, especially where the party seeking to argue the issue has failed to object to a jury instruction, as required by Rule 51 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This Court's inability to reach the negligence issue makes this case an inappropriate vehicle for resolving the inadequate training question, because of the close interrelationship between the two matters, and the other questions presented are not of sufficient importance to warrant review independently. Although there is no jurisdictional bar to this Court's reaching the negligence issue, whether or not the Court of Appeals did so, there would be considerable prudential objection to reversing a judgment because of instructions that petitioner accepted, and indeed itself requested. Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, 471 U. S. 808, distinguished.
Certiorari dismissed. Reported below: 777 F.2d 801.