Section 1983’s remedies

1. Available Damages

Section 1983 provides that a prevailing plaintiff is entitled to recover (1) equitable (declaratory and injunctive) relief and (2) actual damages, including back pay, front pay, and other compensatory damages.

A prevailing plaintiff may also recover punitive damages against an individual defendant if the defendant acts with a callous or reckless disregard for the plaintiff’s rights. However, punitive damages are not available as to municipalities, local government entities or local government officials sued in their official capacities.

2. Attorneys’ Fees

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1988, a prevailing plaintiff may recover attorneys’ fees. A prevailing defendant may recover attorneys’ fees only upon a showing that the plaintiff’s lawsuit was frivolous, unreasonable or groundless.