544 F.3d 633 (6th Cir. 2008), 07-6330, S.E. v. Grant County Bd. of Educ.

Docket Nº:07-6330.
Citation:544 F.3d 633
Party Name:S.E., as Next Friend of A.E.; T.E., as Next Friend of A.E.; A. E., a minor by and through her Next Friends, S.E. and T.E., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. GRANT COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION; Donald Martin, in his Capacity as Superintendent and Individually; Ronald Livingood, in his Capacity as Principal of Grant County Middle School and Individually; James
Case Date:October 10, 2008
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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544 F.3d 633 (6th Cir. 2008)

S.E., as Next Friend of A.E.; T.E., as Next Friend of A.E.; A. E., a minor by and through her Next Friends, S.E. and T.E., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

GRANT COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION; Donald Martin, in his Capacity as Superintendent and Individually; Ronald Livingood, in his Capacity as Principal of Grant County Middle School and Individually; James Lacey, in his Capacity as Assistant Principal of Grant County Middle School and Individually; Celisa Edmondson, in her Capacity as Health Nurse of Grant County Middle School and Individually, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 07-6330.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

October 10, 2008

Argued: Sept. 15, 2008.

Rehearing Denied Oct. 24, 2008.

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ARGUED:

Kenneth J. Henry, Pedley & Gordinier, Louisville, Kentucky, for Appellants

Suzanne Cassidy, O'Hara, Ruberg, Taylor, Sloan & Sergent, Covington, Kentucky, for Appellees.

ON BRIEF:

Kenneth J. Henry, Pedley & Gordinier, Louisville, Kentucky, for Appellants.

Suzanne Cassidy, O'Hara, Ruberg, Taylor, Sloan & Sergent, Covington, Kentucky, for Appellees.

Before: GUY, RYAN, and McKEAGUE, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

RALPH B. GUY, JR., Circuit Judge.

Plaintiffs A.E. and her next friends assert state and federal claims against the Grant County Board of Education, Superintendent Donald Martin, Principal Ronald Livingood, Assistant Principal James Lacey, and Nurse Celisa Edmondson, stemming from the actions of school officials in response to seventh-grader A.E.'s sharing of prescription medicine with fellow student S.W. Plaintiffs appeal from the district court's grant of qualified immunity to the individual defendants and its entry of

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summary judgment for the School District. We affirm.

I.

Both plaintiffs and defendants adopt the statement of facts in the district court's opinion on summary judgment.

A.E., the subject Plaintiff in this lawsuit, was a seventh-grade student at Grant County Middle School in May of 2006. A.E. is bi-polar and suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). To manage these conditions, she takes Adderall. During the 2004-2005 school year, A.E. received the medication daily at lunchtime. Pursuant to school policies and procedures, A.E.'s medication was maintained in the school nurse's office, where she went each day to receive it.

On May 26, 2005, the last day of school, A.E. went to the nurse's office for her lunchtime administration of Adderall, as she had done for the entire school year. At that time, there were four Adderall tablets left. The school nurse, defendant Edmondson, returned the remaining four tablets to A.E. in the original container. A.E. requested to return at the end of the school day to pick up the remaining tablets rather than take them to class with her. The nurse told A.E. to take the remaining medicine with her, even though it was the middle of the school day, and advised A.E. not to give any of the tablets to anyone else.

A.E. had nowhere to keep the medication because she no longer had access to her locker and had neither a purse nor a backpack. Therefore, she gave the medication to her teacher, Mrs. Moore, for safekeeping. The students left the classroom at that time to engage in outside activities. When they returned to the classroom, the teacher returned the medicine to A.E. The students then went to their last class of the day, where there was a different teacher, Ms. Babel. Ms. Babel showed a movie and served refreshments. Ms. Babel was in and out of the classroom during the movie.

It was during this class that another student, S.W., noticed A.E.'s medication container and asked what was in it. S.W. asked for one of the pills. At first, A.E. refused. After continued pressure, however, A.E. relented and gave S.W. one of her Adderall pills.

Approximately two days later, the Assistant Principal, Defendant James Lacey, called T.E. (A.E.'s mother) and asked if she was aware of the events. She responded that A.E. had told her about them when she came home from school that day. Assistant Principal Lacey then informed T.E. that a deputy sheriff would be coming to interview A.E. about this incident over the summer break. However, T.E. was never contacted by law enforcement over the summer.

School resumed on August 11, 2005, and A.E. returned to Grant County Middle School to begin her eighth-grade year. On the first day of school, Assistant Principal Lacey (a Defendant here in his individual capacity) called A.E. to his office and asked her about what happened on the last day of school, May 26, 2005. He was aware at this time that a sheriff's deputy had not contacted A.E. over the summer break.

Assistant Principal Lacey asked A.E. if she remembered the events of the last day of school and required her to write a statement, which she was then required to date and sign. Thereafter, A.E. was sent back to class. Plaintiff claims that she was not informed that she was free to leave the office or that her written statement would be turned over to the police for purposes of charging her with

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criminal activity. A copy of the statement was not placed in A.E.'s school file.

Approximately one week after Assistant Principal Lacey met with A.E., he called both A.E. and S.W. to his office. He asked them what had happened on May 26, 2005. A.E. remained silent during this meeting. Assistant Principal Lacey then issued each girl a one-day suspension and told them they would be subject to a six-month probation through the juvenile justice system. This second meeting was held after A.E. had submitted the written statement that was later given to Officer Osborne.

A.E. and her mother were contacted by a court-designated worker (CDW) and notified of a meeting at juvenile court to be held on October 3, 2005. At that time, A.E. was given the option to enter into a diversion agreement or face formal court proceedings. A.E. chose the diversion program. The record does not detail who was present at the meeting or who presented the options to A.E.

S.E. v. Grant County Bd. of Educ., 522 F.Supp.2d 826, 827-28 (E.D.Ky.2007).

Defendants add in their brief on appeal that Assistant Principal Lacey obtained a written statement from each of the students, A.E. and S.W., and suspended the students from school for a day. The students were referred to the school Resource Officer, Sheriff's Deputy Rita Osborne, who made the determination to consult with a Grant County Juvenile Court Designated Worker (CDW). Ultimately, A.E. was charged in juvenile court with a trafficking violation that was diverted and dismissed after A.E. satisfied her diversion contract. No charges were brought against S.W.

A.E. and her next friends filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in June 2006, claiming that the events described above caused A.E. to suffer severe emotional distress and associated physical problems. The fifteen-count complaint alleged a variety of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims under federal statutes and the U.S. Constitution, as well as claims under state law. Prior to the district court's ruling on summary judgment, plaintiffs agreed to the dismissal of eight counts in the complaint, which left counts of disability discrimination under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (Count III), violations of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments (Counts IV and V), related conspiracy and refusal to prevent counts (Counts VI and IX), and state law claims of negligence (Count X) and negligent supervision (Count XII).

Following oral argument on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment in August 2007, the district court entered a summary order finding, without reasoning, that “ all defendants sued in their individual capacities are entitled to qualified immunity." 1 The court allowed certain supplemental briefing, and entered its Opinion and Order in October 2007, granting the defendant's motion for summary judgment and denying the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment. The court noted the voluntary dismissal of eight counts by agreement of the parties; dismissed Counts IV, V, VI, and IX “ upon the doctrine of Heck v. Humphrey, " dismissed Count III for plaintiffs' failure to exhaust administrative remedies; and dismissed the state law counts of X and XII without prejudice. This timely appeal followed.

II.

The district court's entry of summary judgment is reviewed de novo.

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Moorer v. Baptist Mem'l Health Care Sys., 398 F.3d 469, 486 (6th Cir.2005). Summary judgment is appropriate when there are no issues of material fact in dispute and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). We must view the factual evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). A district court's decision on the question of qualified immunity is also reviewed de novo. Thomas v. Cohen, 304 F.3d 563, 568 (6th Cir.2002).

A. Heck v. Humphrey

In Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994), the Supreme Court held that:

... in order to recover damages for allegedly...

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