469 F.3d 158 (1st Cir. 2006), 06-1466, Buchanan v. Maine

Docket Nº:06-1466.
Citation:469 F.3d 158
Party Name:Daniel BUCHANAN, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Michael Buchanan; Estate of Michael Buchanan, Plaintiffs, Appellants, United States, Intervenor, v. State of MAINE; Lynn Duby, individually and in her official capacity as former Commissioner of the Maine Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services; Julianne Edmondson; Joel Gilber
Case Date:November 16, 2006
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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469 F.3d 158 (1st Cir. 2006)

Daniel BUCHANAN, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Michael Buchanan; Estate of Michael Buchanan, Plaintiffs, Appellants,

United States, Intervenor,


State of MAINE; Lynn Duby, individually and in her official capacity as former Commissioner of the Maine Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services; Julianne Edmondson; Joel Gilbert; Lincoln County; Robert Emerson; Kenneth Hatch; John Nicholas, Commissioner, Maine Department of Health and Human Services; William Carter; Todd Brackett, Sheriff, Lincoln County, Defendants, Appellees.

No. 06-1466.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit.

November 16, 2006

Heard Sept. 14, 2006.


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Robert J. Stolt, with whom Lipman, Katz & McKee, P.A. was on brief, for appellants.

Christopher C. Taub, Assistant Attorney General, with whom G. Steven Rowe, Attorney General, and Paul Stern, Deputy Attorney General, Of Counsel, were on brief, for appellees State of Maine, Lynn Duby, Julianne Edmondson, Joel Gilbert, and John Nicholas.

Peter T. Marchesi, with whom Cassandra S. Shaffer and Wheeler & Arey, P.A. were on brief, for appellees Lincoln County, Robert Emerson, Kenneth Hatch, William Carter, and Todd Brackett.

Jessica Dunsay Silver, Attorney, United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Appellate Section, with whom Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General, and Sarah E. Harrington, Attorney, United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Appellate Section, were on brief, for the United States as intervenor.

Before Lynch, Circuit Judge, Siler, [*] Senior Circuit Judge, and Lipez, Circuit Judge.

LYNCH, Circuit Judge.

The law is no stranger to the tragedies of life. In February 2002, Michael Buchanan, a mentally ill man, was shot to death inside his isolated Maine home when he repeatedly stabbed one of two deputy sheriffs who had gone to check on Buchanan's safety and welfare.

Believing that Buchanan's death was preventable, Michael's brother Daniel, as administrator, and the estate (together, "plaintiff") filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Lincoln County, two sheriffs, and the two deputy sheriffs, saying that the officers should never have entered the house and that their warrantless entry violated the Fourth Amendment. Plaintiff does not contend that the officers were unjustified in the shooting -- only that they were unjustified in entering the house, and so setting off the fatal chain of events.

Plaintiff also sued the State of Maine and the County on the theory that they failed to reasonably accommodate Buchanan's need for mental health services as required by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), see 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131, 12132, thus causing his death. Plaintiff further made the constitutional claim that Buchanan's case manager, Joel Gilbert, and Gilbert's supervisor, Julianne

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Edmondson, violated Buchanan's "class of one" equal protection rights.

The State of Maine asserted Eleventh Amendment immunity to the plaintiff's ADA Title II claim. The district court held that Title II does not validly abrogate a State's immunity as to claims of access to mental health services and so granted summary judgment to the State.1 Buchanan v. Maine, 417 F.Supp.2d 24, 38-41 (D. Me. 2006); Buchanan v. Maine, 377 F.Supp.2d 276, 279-83 (D. Me. 2005).

The lengthy and complicated procedural history in this case need not be recited. Ultimately, the district court entered summary judgment for defendants on all claims.2 417 F.Supp.2d at 44-45 (State defendants); Buchanan v. Maine, 417 F.Supp.2d 45, 74-75 (D. Me. 2006) (County defendants). We discuss the court's reasons and the factual record under the pertinent topics. We affirm the entry of summary judgment in favor of Lincoln County, the two deputy sheriffs, and Buchanan's case manager. We also hold that judgment for the State of Maine should be entered on the basis that plaintiff failed to establish a claim under Title II.


We review a grant of summary judgment de novo; in doing so, we consider the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, drawing all reasonable inferences in his favor. Suarez v. Pueblo Int'l, Inc., 229 F.3d 49, 53 (1st Cir. 2000). Issues of law are reviewed de novo. Cotter v. Mass. Ass'n of Minority Law Enforcement Officers, 219 F.3d 31, 34 (1st Cir. 2000).

The following facts are undisputed, except as otherwise noted. Michael Buchanan was born in 1940 and moved to Maine in approximately 1978. Buchanan had shown signs of mental illness since the early 1970s. He was involuntarily committed to the Augusta Mental Health Institute (AMHI) on two separate occasions. The first admission was in 1988, and the second admission lasted from September 11, 1999 to October 19, 1999.

During this time there was litigation in the state courts over whether Maine, "in its . . . provision of treatment and services to present and former patients of AMHI," was violating the state and federal constitutions as well as state and federal laws. Bates v. Dep't of Behavioral & Developmental Servs., 863 A.2d 890, 894 (Me. 2004). In 1990, the parties settled the class action lawsuit by an agreement and consent decree in which Maine did not admit liability, and in which the State was to provide certain health care services.3 Every class member, generally, upon discharge from AMHI was entitled to receive an Individualized Support Plan (ISP) assessing the class member's strengths and needs, describing the class member's goals

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and objectives, and listing the services the class member needed to meet his or her goals and objectives. These individualized plans were to be "coordinated and monitored by a community support worker" who was then responsible for locating and delivering the needed services. Buchanan was a member of this class, as he was discharged from AMHI in October 1999.

In September 1999, while at AMHI, Buchanan was diagnosed with bipolar disorder with psychosis, schizo-affective disorder, and schizophrenia with paranoia. He was discharged on October 19, 1999, having been prescribed three medications: lithium, Haldol, and Cogentin. Buchanan was assigned to Joel Gilbert, an intensive case manager with three years of experience in that position. As an intensive case manager, Gilbert was a community support worker who was responsible for helping mental health clients live independently in the community. Gilbert described his job as helping clients obtain mental health services, as well as any other services they might need, such as housing assistance, welfare benefits, medical care, and fuel assistance. In the community support program, he handled the cases of ten to twelve high-risk patients who were seriously mentally ill.

Over the next month and a half in 1999, Gilbert visited Buchanan's house about once a week to check up on him. The house was located at the end of a one-half- to three-quarter-mile driveway that was frequently impassable by a regular vehicle. On a number of Gilbert's visits, Buchanan told Gilbert that he did not want to participate in the ISP process. The plaintiff maintains that Gilbert did not properly engage Buchanan in developing an ISP. It is uncontested that on December 2, 1999, Gilbert completed an "outreach plan" for Buchanan, under which Gilbert would make weekly visits to Buchanan to check on his living conditions, offer rides to town for errands, take him to doctor's appointments, and encourage him to take his medications.

Gilbert continued to visit Buchanan over the next two years. He took Buchanan grocery shopping at least eleven times. Gilbert took Buchanan to see the doctor at least eight times, picked up and delivered prescription drugs for Buchanan, took Buchanan to get fitted for glasses, and attended a dentist's appointment with Buchanan. Gilbert obtained state funds to purchase a wood stove and a propane heating system for Buchanan's home, as well as a watch so that Buchanan would know when to go out to the main road to be picked up by Gilbert. On two occasions, Gilbert also helped Buchanan fill out food stamp applications.

Plaintiff asserts that, beginning in early 2001, Buchanan, after previously announcing that he would no longer take his medications, began to demonstrate signs of psychological decompensation.

It is agreed that on December 28, 2001, Gilbert went to Buchanan's home to take him to a fuel assistance appointment. Buchanan accused Gilbert of shutting off his gas and became angry with Gilbert, claiming to have five gun permits and telling Gilbert he did not trust him. Gilbert told Buchanan he could not take him to his fuel assistance appointment in such a condition. According to Gilbert's written report, Buchanan waved his arms, made profane statements, and went back into his house stating, "Don't come back here later, I don't want any[]more help, and don't bring those sheriffs here anymore either." As a result of this interaction, Gilbert believed it would be prudent to have a co-worker accompany him on any future visits.

Three days later, on December 31, 2001, Gilbert and a co-worker visited Buchanan's

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home. Buchanan was polite and did not appear to remember his angry interaction with Gilbert. This was Gilbert's last visit to Buchanan.

Gilbert attempted to visit Buchanan twice in January 2002, but both times was unable to find a co-worker to accompany him. On February 5, 2002, Gilbert called Buchanan's brother Daniel to explain that he had been having difficulty making...

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