Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 17 (1994)

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Cite as: 511 U. S. 825 (1994)

Opinion of the Court

more or different training is so obvious, and the inadequacy so likely to result in the violation of constitutional rights, that the policymakers of the city can reasonably be said to have been deliberately indifferent to the need." Id., at 390; see also id., at 390, n. 10 (elaborating). Justice O'Connor's separate opinion for three Justices agreed with the Court's "obvious[ness]" test and observed that liability is appropriate when policymakers are "on actual or constructive notice" of the need to train, id., at 396 (opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part). It would be hard to describe the Canton understanding of deliberate indifference, permitting liability to be premised on obviousness or constructive notice, as anything but objective.

Canton's objective standard, however, is not an appropriate test for determining the liability of prison officials under the Eighth Amendment as interpreted in our cases. Section 1983, which merely provides a cause of action, "contains no state-of-mind requirement independent of that necessary to state a violation of the underlying constitutional right." Daniels v. Williams, 474 U. S. 327, 330 (1986). And while deliberate indifference serves under the Eighth Amendment to ensure that only inflictions of punishment carry liability, see Wilson, 501 U. S., at 299-300, the "term was used in the Canton case for the quite different purpose of identifying the threshold for holding a city responsible for the constitutional torts committed by its inadequately trained agents," Collins v. Harker Heights, 503 U. S. 115, 124 (1992), a purpose the Canton Court found satisfied by a test permitting liability when a municipality disregards "obvious" needs. Needless to say, moreover, considerable conceptual difficulty would attend any search for the subjective state of mind of a governmental entity, as distinct from that of a governmental official. For these reasons, we cannot accept petitioner's argument that Canton compels the conclu-


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