In January 2022, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i and Caballero Law LLLC filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Tamara Taylor and her minor daughter, N.B. The Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants -- City and County of Honolulu, the State of Hawai‘i Department of Education, the vice principal, and three Honolulu Police Department officers violated their constitutional rights during a January 2020 incident at Honowai Elementary School in which 10-year-old N.B. was handcuffed and arrested, and her mother was falsely detained by DOE officials.

As described in the lawsuit, the day before her arrest, N.B. had made an offensive drawing together with other classmates, following an incident in which she was bullied by a third child. N.B., who has a disability of which school officials were aware, often draws as a coping mechanism for her disability. The following morning, a parent complained to school officials about a the drawing and insisted that school officials call the police to the school to arrest N.B.

After arriving on school grounds, police interrogated 10-year-old N.B., handcuffed her with excessive force, arrested her without probable cause, and transported her to the police station—all without letting N.B. see or speak with her mother. The police and school officials took these traumatizing actions despite the fact that N.B. was cooperative and did not pose any danger to any person or herself—and without accommodating N.B.’s disability, which was documented with the school.

The lawsuit lists the following causes of action:

  • False arrest in violation of the 4th and 14th amendements to the U.S. Constitution, federal civil rights law, and state tort law;
  • Use of excessive force in violation of the 4th and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution and federal civil rights law;
  • Discrimination on the basis of race in violation of federal civil rights law; Disability-based discrimination in violation of federal disabilities laws;
  • Negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress; and
  • Negligent training and supervision

The lawsuit seeks to hold the Hawaiʻi Department of Education, the City and County of Honolulu, and their respective employees accountable for violating our clients' civil rights.

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Caballero Law LLLC

Date filed

January 7, 2022