48 F.3d 192 (6th Cir. 1995), 94-5015, Ellison v. Garbarino

Docket Nº:94-5015.
Citation:48 F.3d 192
Party Name:Rick R. ELLISON, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. A.J. GARBARINO, M.D.; William M. HOGAN, M.D.; Stewart BRAMSON, M.D.; Bruce GREEN, M.D.; Peninsula Psychiatric Center, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:February 24, 1995
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Page 192

48 F.3d 192 (6th Cir. 1995)

Rick R. ELLISON, Plaintiff-Appellant,


A.J. GARBARINO, M.D.; William M. HOGAN, M.D.; Stewart

BRAMSON, M.D.; Bruce GREEN, M.D.; Peninsula

Psychiatric Center, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 94-5015.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

February 24, 1995

Submitted Jan. 24, 1995.

Page 193

Thomas M. Leveille (briefed), Ramsey & Leveille, Knoxville, TN, for Rick R. Ellison.

M. Lacy West (briefed), Julia C. West, West & Rose, Kingsport, TN, for A.J. Garbarino, M.D.

James G. O'Kane, Jr. (briefed), Baker, McReynolds, Byrne, Brackett, O'Kane & Shea, Knoxville, TN, for William M. Hogan, M.D., Bruce Q. Green, M.D.

E. Blake Moore (briefed), Spears, Moore, Rebman & Williams, Chattanooga, TN, for Stewart Bramson, M.D.

Foster D. Arnett (briefed), Thomas M. Cole (briefed), Arnett, Draper & Hagood, Knoxville, TN, for Peninsula Psychiatric Center, Inc.

Page 194

Before: RYAN and SILER, Circuit Judges; and MILES, District Judge. [*]

SILER, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which RYAN, J., joined. MILES, D. J. (pp. 197-98), delivered a separate opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.

SILER, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff Rick Ellison challenges the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants A.J. Garbarino, William Hogan, Stewart Bramson, Bruce Green and Peninsula Psychiatric Center, Inc. after finding that none of the defendants was a state actor for purposes of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983. The claim arose from a civil commitment of plaintiff to the mental hospital. None of the defendants is a state employee or agency.

For the reasons stated herein, we affirm the decision of the district court.


Debbie Ellison, the wife of Plaintiff Rick Ellison, believed that her husband was suffering from psychological problems and would become violent. Fearing for her safety, Ms. Ellison obtained an order of transport from the General Sessions Court of Cocke County, Tennessee, which authorized deputies of the Cocke County Sheriff to transport Mr. Ellison to the office of Defendant Dr. Garbarino for psychological evaluation. Dr. Garbarino determined that plaintiff needed medical attention and signed a Certification of Need for Emergency Admission pursuant to Sec. 33-6-103 of the Tennessee Code. The deputies then transported plaintiff to Peninsula Hospital, a hospital privately owned and operated by Defendant Peninsula Psychiatric Center, Inc. Upon plaintiff's arrival, Defendant Dr. Stewart Bramson, a private physician employed by the hospital, evaluated plaintiff and determined that plaintiff was indeed mentally ill and posed an immediate likelihood of serious harm to his wife and/or his children. 1 Dr. Bramson executed a second Certification of Need for Emergency Admission, which is necessary under Tennessee law to privately commit an individual involuntarily.

On January 6, 1992, the General Sessions Court for Blount County, Tennessee ordered the detention of plaintiff for emergency diagnosis, evaluation and treatment and a probable cause hearing. Plaintiff remained in the hospital until January 10, 1992, when the General Sessions Court determined, based upon the certificates of a psychologist and a physician, that plaintiff was not in need of further emergency care and treatment.

Plaintiff sued the defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983. After determining that none of the defendants was a "state actor" for purposes of Sec. 1983, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants.


This court reviews a district court's grant of summary judgment de novo. Wolotsky v. Huhn, 960 F.2d 1331, 1334 (6th Cir.1992). Summary judgment is proper "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Canderm Pharmacal, Ltd. v. Elder Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 862 F.2d 597, 601 (6th Cir.1988). In making this determination, this court will view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Wolotsky, 960 F.2d at 1334.

A Sec. 1983 claim must satisfy two elements: "1) the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and 2) the deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of state law." Simescu v. Emmet County Dept. of Social Servs., 942 F.2d 372, 374 (6th Cir.1991) (citing Flagg Brothers, Inc. v. Brooks, 436 U.S. 149, 155, 98 S.Ct. 1729, 1733, 56 L.Ed.2d 185 (1978)). The parties do not contest that this case

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implicates a constitutional right to liberty. The parties do dispute, however, whether the plaintiff can establish that defendants acted under color of state law. Specifically, the parties dispute whether defendants are "state actors," that is, whether their actions are "fairly attributable to the state." Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937, 102 S.Ct. 2744, 2753-54, 73 L.Ed.2d 482 (1982).

This circuit recognizes three tests for determining whether private conduct is fairly attributable to the state...

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