381 F.3d 407 (5th Cir. 2004), 03-50608, McCarthy ex rel. Travis v. Hawkins

Docket Nº:03-50608.
Citation:381 F.3d 407
Party Name:Christy McCARTHY, By and through her next friend Jamie TRAVIS; Todd Gordon, By and through his next friend Trisha Gordon; Allison Pratt, By and through her next friend Paula Pratt; Gail Truman, By and through her next friend Ken Truman; Jim Floyd, Jr., By and through his next friend Jim Floyd, Sr.; Sam Lindsay, By and through his next friend Betty
Case Date:August 11, 2004
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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381 F.3d 407 (5th Cir. 2004)

Christy McCARTHY, By and through her next friend Jamie TRAVIS; Todd Gordon, By and through his next friend Trisha Gordon; Allison Pratt, By and through her next friend Paula Pratt; Gail Truman, By and through her next friend Ken Truman; Jim Floyd, Jr., By and through his next friend Jim Floyd, Sr.; Sam Lindsay, By and through his next friend Betty Lindsay; Oshea Brooks; Joe Ray Comacho; Micha Chastain, By and through his next friend Lori Chastain; A.L., By and through his next friend L.L.; Arc of Texas, On behalf of its members and for those similarly situated; Sue Ann Ortiz; Patrick Sostack, By and through their parents and next friends Gary and Lisa Sostack; Scott Sostack, By and through their parents and next friends Gary and Lisa Sostack; Shyan Forough, By and through his parents and next friends Reza and Arzu Forough; David Zweifel, By and through his parents and next friends Linda and Leroy Zweifel; Ashton Bowlen, By and through her mother and next friend Patricia Bowlen; Tyler Blanchard, By and through his mother and next friend Faith Blanchard; Garrett Gillard, By and through his mother and next friend Keeya Gillard; Kameron Lane, By and through his mother and next friend Angie Lane; Madison Polk, By and through her father and next friend John Polk; Paige Smith, By and through her mother and next friend Gretta Smith, Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

Albert HAWKINS, Etc.; et al., Defendants,

Albert Hawkins, In his official capacity as Commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission; Karen F. Hale, In her official capacity as Commissioner of the Texas Department of Mental Health & Mental Retardation; James R. Hine, In his official capacity as Commissioner of the Texas Department of Human Services, Defendants-Appellants.

No. 03-50608.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

August 11, 2004

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Geoffrey N. Courtney (argued), Austin, TX, James H. Keahey, Garth Anthony Corbett, Advocacy Inc., Austin, TX, for Plaintiffs-Appellees.

Kevin K. Russell (argued), U.S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, DC, for U.S., Intervenor.

Amy Warr (argued), Austin, TX, for Defendants-Appellants.

Karen M. Lockwood, Rachel A. Adams, Howrey, Simon, Arnold & White, Washington, DC, for Amici Curiae.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

Before KING, Chief Judge, and REAVLEY and EMILIO M. GARZA, Circuit Judges.

KING, Chief Judge:

Plaintiffs sued several Texas state officials, asserting violations of the Medicaid

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statute, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act. Relying in part on state-sovereign immunity, Defendants moved the district court to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims. The district court denied Defendants' motion in part, concluding that the doctrine of Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 28 S.Ct. 441, 52 L.Ed. 714 (1908), provided jurisdiction over this official-capacity suit seeking prospective relief against state officers. Disappointed, Defendants filed this interlocutory appeal, seeking to vindicate their Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit. We agree with the district court that state officers, sued in their official capacities for prospective relief, are proper defendants under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and are not immune under the Eleventh Amendment. Further, we hold that Defendants' other contentions on appeal relate to the merits of this controversy, not the Eleventh Amendment; therefore, these arguments are beyond the scope of this interlocutory appeal. We affirm.

I. Background

Plaintiffs are twenty-one mentally disabled Texas residents (most of whom sue through their next friends) and the Arc of Texas (a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of individuals with mental disabilities). In September 2002, they brought this action, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated,1 against Defendants. Defendants are three Texas state officers sued in their official capacities as Commissioners of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the Texas Department of Human Services, and the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation.2 Plaintiffs allege that Defendants are not adequately providing community-based living options to individuals, like themselves, with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities.

The programs to which Plaintiffs seek access are offered by Texas as part of its Medicaid plan. Title XIX of the Social Security Act established Medicaid, a cooperative federal-state program that provides federal funding to states that furnish medical services to needy individuals. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1396-1396v (2000); Frew v. Hawkins, 540 U.S. 431, 124 S.Ct. 899, 901, 157 L.Ed.2d 855 (2004). While state participation is voluntary, if a state elects to join the program, it must administer a state plan that meets federal requirements. See 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a) (describing the required contents of a state plan); Frew, 124 S.Ct. at 901. States can, however, obtain certain waivers, which allow them to deliver experimental services under a relaxed set of regulatory strictures. One such waiver permits states to offer home and community-based services for disabled individuals who would otherwise require institutional care. See 42 U.S.C. § 1396n(c) (1). Under a § 1396n(c) waiver, certain obligations that otherwise attach to states' provision of Medicaid services are waived, and participating states may obtain federal reimbursement for services that would not normally be reimbursable under the Medicaid program. See id. § 1396n(c) (3) (detailing the requirements that may be waived under a § 1396n(c) waiver); id. § 1396n(c) (4) (B) (explaining the services that may be provided under a § 1396n(c) waiver).

Plaintiffs' claims center on two § 1396n(c) waiver programs offered by

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Texas for mentally disabled individuals. First, the Home and Community-Based Waiver Services program (the "HCS" program) provides services that enable individuals with mental retardation to remain at home, live independently, or live in small home-like settings. The HCS program thereby helps those individuals avoid institutional living environments. Second, the Community Living Assistance and Support Services waiver program (the "CLASS" program) provides similar assistance to individuals with other developmental disabilities.

II. Proceedings in the District Court

Plaintiffs' second amended complaint alleges that Defendants have denied them access to the HCS and CLASS programs. According to Plaintiffs, this denial of access violates several provisions of federal law--namely, (1) four subsections of the federal Medicaid statute, including its due process provision (i.e., § 1396a(a) (3)3), and its implementing regulations; (2) Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12165 (2000), and its implementing regulations; (3) § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C.A. § 794(a) (West 1999 & Supp.2004), and its implementing regulations; and (4) the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiffs assert causes of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Title II, and § 504, and they seek declaratory and injunctive relief.

Defendants moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b) (6) and Rule 12(b) (1), contending that several of Plaintiffs' claims failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and asserting Eleventh Amendment immunity from the entire suit. In May 2003, the district court granted Defendants' motion in part and denied it in part. The district court dismissed, for failure to state a claim, Plaintiffs' Due Process and Equal Protection claims. Similarly, the court dismissed, for failure to state a claim, all but one of Plaintiffs' § 1983 claims regarding alleged infringements of the Medicaid statute, concluding that only the due process provision in § 1396a(a) (3) was enforceable under § 1983.4 Concerning Plaintiffs' Title II and § 504 causes of action, the court ruled that Plaintiffs' complaint did state actionable claims under each statute. Further, since Plaintiffs sued state officers for prospective relief, the court relied on the doctrine of Ex parte Young in holding that the Eleventh Amendment did not bar Plaintiffs' Title II and § 504 claims.

In sum, the district court allowed three of Plaintiffs' causes of action to proceed: (1) their § 1983 claim based on violations of the due process provision of the Medicaid statute (§ 1396a(a) (3)); (2) their Title II claim; and (3) their § 504 claim. Defendants appeal from that portion of the district court's May 2003 order that denied their motion to dismiss on the basis of Eleventh Amendment immunity. Under the collateral order doctrine, this court has

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jurisdiction over an interlocutory appeal from a denial of a motion to dismiss asserting Eleventh Amendment immunity. See P.R. Aqueduct & Sewer Auth. v. Metcalf & Eddy, Inc., 506 U.S. 139, 144-45, 113 S.Ct. 684, 121 L.Ed.2d 605 (1993). In November 2003, this court granted the United States's unopposed motion to intervene on behalf of Plaintiffs.5

III. Standard of Review

This court reviews denials of Eleventh Amendment immunity de novo. Cozzo v. Tangipahoa Parish Council--President Gov't, 279 F.3d 273, 280 (5th Cir. 2002).

IV. Texas's Entitlement to Eleventh Amendment Immunity From Suit

The Eleventh Amendment has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to bar suits by individuals against nonconsenting states. Bd. of Trs. of the Univ. of Ala. v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 363, 121 S.Ct. 955, 148 L.Ed.2d 866 (2001). In addition, the principle of state-sovereign immunity generally precludes actions against state officers in their official capacities, see Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 663-69, 94 S.Ct. 1347, 39 L.Ed.2d 662 (1974), subject to an established exception: the...

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