902 F.3d 1136 (10th Cir. 2018), 16-7079, Halley v. Huckaby

Docket Nº:16-7079, 16-7080, 16-7081
Citation:902 F.3d 1136
Opinion Judge:TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge.
Party Name:Frank HALLEY, as next friend of J.H., a minor child, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Sara HUCKABY, in her individual capacity, Defendant-Appellant. and State of Oklahoma ex rel. The Oklahoma State Department of Human Services; Ken Golden, in his official capacity as Sheriff of Bryan County, Oklahoma; Nathan Calloway, in this individual capacity; Jeff ...
Attorney:Emily B. Fagan (John K.F. Langford with her on the briefs), Assistant General Counsel, Oklahoma State Department of Human Services, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Appellant Sara Huckaby. Clark W. Crapster (Mark E. Fileds with him on the briefs), Steidley & Neal, P.L.L.C., McAlester, Oklahoma, for A...
Judge Panel:Before TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge, BALDOCK, and LUCERO, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:August 27, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
 
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Page 1136

902 F.3d 1136 (10th Cir. 2018)

Frank HALLEY, as next friend of J.H., a minor child, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Sara HUCKABY, in her individual capacity, Defendant-Appellant.

and

State of Oklahoma ex rel. The Oklahoma State Department of Human Services; Ken Golden, in his official capacity as Sheriff of Bryan County, Oklahoma; Nathan Calloway, in this individual capacity; Jeff Goerke, in his individual capacity; Bryan County School District 4, sued as Independent School District No. 4 of Bryan County, also known as Colbert School District, Defendants.

Frank Halley, as next friend of J.H., a minor child, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Jeff Goerke, in his individual capacity, Defendant-Appellant.

and

Sara Huckaby, in her individual capacity; State of Oklahoma ex rel. The Oklahoma State Department of Human Services; Ken Golden, in his official capacity as Sheriff of Bryan County, Oklahoma; Nathan Calloway, in his individual capacity; Bryan County School District 4, sued as Independent School District No. 4 of Bryan County, also known as Colbert School District, Defendants.

Frank Halley, as next friend of J.H., a minor child, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Nathan Calloway, in his individual capacity, Defendant-Appellant.

and

Sara Huckaby, in her individual capacity; State of Oklahoma ex rel. The Oklahoma State Department of Human Services; Ken Golden, in his official capacity as Sheriff of Bryan County, Oklahoma; Jeff Goerke, in his individual capacity; Bryan County School District 4, sued as Independent School District No. 4 of Bryan County, also known as Colbert School District, Defendants.

Nos. 16-7079, 16-7080, 16-7081

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

August 27, 2018

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APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA (D.C. NO. CIV-0562-JHP)

Emily B. Fagan (John K.F. Langford with her on the briefs), Assistant General Counsel, Oklahoma State Department of Human Services, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Appellant Sara Huckaby.

Clark W. Crapster (Mark E. Fileds with him on the briefs), Steidley & Neal, P.L.L.C., McAlester, Oklahoma, for Appellant Jeff Goerke.

Wellon B. Poe (Chris J. Collins with him on the briefs), Collins, Zorn & Wagner, P.C., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Appellant Nathan Calloway.

J. Spencer Bryan (Steven J. Terrill with him on the brief), Bryan & Terrill Law, PLLC, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Appellee Frank Halley.

Before TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge, BALDOCK, and LUCERO, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge.

J.H. is a minor child represented by his grandfather Frank Halley. J.H. claims a child welfare specialist at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and two

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police officers wrongfully seized and questioned him about possible abuse by his father. Because of this conduct, J.H. argues these officials violated the Fourth Amendment, and that two of the three officials violated the Fourteenth Amendment by unduly interfering with J.H.’s substantive due process right of familial association.

The officials moved for summary judgment— arguing, in part, that qualified immunity shielded them from liability. The district court denied qualified immunity, and this interlocutory appeal followed.

We affirm in part and reverse in part. The district court correctly determined that two of the three defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity on the Fourth Amendment unlawful seizure claim. But we reverse the district court’s denial of qualified immunity for the officer who merely followed orders by transporting J.H. We also reverse the district court’s denial of qualified immunity on the Fourteenth Amendment interference with familial association claim since it was not clearly established that the officials’ conduct violated the Fourteenth Amendment.

I. Background

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) received an anonymous call voicing a concern for the safety of six-year-old J.H., alleging J.H.’s father used drugs and had a prior arrest record for possessing drugs and a firearm.1 DHS classified the call as a "Priority Two," which is a low-priority classification that gives DHS several days to respond.

The morning after the anonymous call, February 13, 2014, Deputy Nathan Calloway, a defendant here, met with two DHS employees to discuss how to respond to the call. Calloway, a deputy with the Bryan County Sheriff’s Department, already knew of allegations that J.H.’s father abused drugs. Deputy Calloway had learned this information when he interviewed the father’s ex-wife on January 23, 2014. Deputy Calloway also knew of pending charges against the father’s ex-wife for filing a false report of domestic abuse and that J.H.’s father had been acquitted once before of domestic abuse charges.

At the meeting, Deputy Calloway agreed that J.H. should be taken into protective custody and interviewed, or at least acquiesced to the proposal. It is unclear from the summary judgment record whose idea it was to interview J.H. DHS investigator Kari Reed testified it was Deputy Calloway’s idea, but Deputy Calloway disputes that assertion. In any event, according to the plan, Deputy Calloway would pick up J.H. from school on the following day, February 14, and drive him to a DHS safe-house for an interview. Once J.H. arrived, DHS personnel would ask him structured questions in a forensic interview to determine whether he was being abused.

The next day, Deputy Calloway told Reed that he would not be able to pick up J.H. from school. As Reed was leaving the office, Sara Huckaby, DHS child welfare specialist and defendant in this case, asked whether she could help. Reed asked Huckaby to arrange for J.H. to be picked up

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for the interview. Huckaby then called Chief of Police Jeff Goerke, the third defendant here, and asked him to pick up J.H. There is a dispute in the record as to what Huckaby told Goerke. Goerke testified that Huckaby told him there was a verbal court order authorizing the seizure, but Huckaby disputes that fact.

Whatever the case may be, Goerke transported J.H. to the safe-house. J.H. told Goerke he did not want to leave school, but Goerke took him away from school and to the safe-house anyway. The safe-house was about thirteen miles away, and the ride took about fifteen minutes. On the way there, Goerke apparently told him he would be given "a better home, a safer home where there is no violence." Aplt. App. 603-604; Aple. Br. at 5.

Deputy Calloway arrived at the safe-house before the interview and helped set up the video-recording equipment. Huckaby conducted the forty-minute interview— exploring J.H.’s family life and relationship with his father. At the conclusion of the interview, Deputy Calloway transported J.H. back to school.

The interview did not yield any evidence of abuse. Left with only the uncorroborated and anonymous tip, DHS did not proceed any further.

Yet the interview did have consequences. J.H. purportedly suffered stress and trauma as a result of the questioning. J.H.’s relationship with his father apparently suffered too, as J.H. has allegedly come to resent him— believing that he was responsible for the trauma J.H. suffered from the interview.

J.H. then brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit. Among other claims, J.H. has alleged Huckaby, Deputy Calloway, and Chief Goerke violated J.H.’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures. He further claimed they conducted this unjustified interview with the intention of interfering with J.H.’s relationship with his father. They did this, J.H. claims, in retaliation for not having been able to convict J.H.’s father of the domestic abuse allegations that his father’s ex-wife had made.

The district court denied Huckaby’s, Calloway’s, and Goerke’s motions for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity, and they appealed.

II. Analysis

The defendants contend the district court erred in denying their motions for summary judgment. All three defendants argue they are entitled to qualified immunity on J.H.’s Fourth Amendment claims, and Huckaby and Deputy Calloway argue the same for J.H.’s Fourteenth Amendment claims against them.

A. Standard of Review

We review the district court’s denial of summary judgment on qualified immunity de novo, applying the same standard as the district court. Timmons v. White, 314 F.3d 1229, 1232 (10th Cir. 2003); Maestas v. Lujan, 351 F.3d 1001, 1007 (10th Cir. 2003). Summary judgment is proper if, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. McCoy v. Meyers, 887 F.3d 1034, 1044 (10th Cir. 2018).

In...

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