Anderson v. City of Mun., No. 18-1941

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtKOBES, Circuit Judge.
Citation934 F.3d 876
Parties William ANDERSON, AS TRUSTEE FOR the NEXT-OF-KIN OF Jacob William ANDERSON (deceased) Plaintiff - Appellant v. CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS; County of Hennepin; Hennepin Healthcare System, Inc.; Dr. Brian Mahoney, M.D., as then-Medical Director of the HCMC Ambulance Service; Shana D. York; Anthony J. Buda; Raul A. Ramos, and John Doe individuals to be determined, Individual Fire Department Personnel in Their Individual Capacities; Daniel F. Shively, and John Doe individuals to be determined, Individual HCMC Ambulance Services Personnel in Their Individual Capacities; Mitchel Morey, M.D., Individual Medical Examiner's Office Personnel, in his Individual Capacity; Daniel J. Tyra; Shannon L. Miller ; Dustin L. Anderson; Scott T. Sutherland; D. Blaurat; Emily Dunphy; Christopher Karakostas; Matthew George ; Joseph McGinness; Calvin Pham; Arlene M. Johnson ; Matthew T. Ryan, and John Doe individuals to be determined, Individual Police Officers in Their Individual Capacities Defendants - Appellees
Decision Date20 August 2019
Docket NumberNo. 18-1941

934 F.3d 876

William ANDERSON, AS TRUSTEE FOR the NEXT-OF-KIN OF Jacob William ANDERSON (deceased) Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS; County of Hennepin; Hennepin Healthcare System, Inc.; Dr. Brian Mahoney, M.D., as then-Medical Director of the HCMC Ambulance Service; Shana D. York; Anthony J. Buda; Raul A. Ramos, and John Doe individuals to be determined, Individual Fire Department Personnel in Their Individual Capacities; Daniel F. Shively, and John Doe individuals to be determined, Individual HCMC Ambulance Services Personnel in Their Individual Capacities; Mitchel Morey, M.D., Individual Medical Examiner's Office Personnel, in his Individual Capacity; Daniel J. Tyra; Shannon L. Miller ; Dustin L. Anderson; Scott T. Sutherland; D. Blaurat; Emily Dunphy; Christopher Karakostas; Matthew George ; Joseph McGinness; Calvin Pham; Arlene M. Johnson ; Matthew T. Ryan, and John Doe individuals to be determined, Individual Police Officers in Their Individual Capacities Defendants - Appellees

No. 18-1941

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

Submitted: March 12, 2019
Filed: August 20, 2019


Counsel who represented the appellant were Robert Randall Hopper, of Minneapolis, MN., Erwin Chemerinsky of Berkeley, CA.

Counsel who represented the appellees were Susan L. Segal, of Minneapolis, MN; Ann E. Walther, of Minneapolis, MN., Michael Boerner Miller, of Minneapolis, MN., Tracey Nelson Fussy, of Minneapolis, MN., Ivan Ludmer, of Minneapolis, MN., Erik Bal of Minneapolis, MN.

Before SHEPHERD, ARNOLD, and KOBES, Circuit Judges.

KOBES, Circuit Judge.

As the district court noted, this is a tragic case. Jacob Anderson (Jacob) died of hypothermia in Minneapolis, Minnesota on December 15, 2013. His father, William Anderson (Anderson), brought this suit alleging federal constitutional and state tort claims against the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and several city and county employees.1 The district court2 granted defendants’ motions to dismiss with prejudice. Anderson appeals the dismissal of his constitutional claims, and we affirm.

I.

A.

In the fall of 2013, Jacob was a 19-year old freshman at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He was an active member of the university community. On the night of December 14, 2013, he attended a party with several other students. He left around 11:15 p.m.

934 F.3d 879

Jacob was discovered the next morning, lying face down in the snow in a remote area of Minneapolis near the Mississippi River. The passerby who found him called 911 at 8:44 a.m. The first responders, employees of the Minneapolis Fire Department, arrived on the scene ten minutes later. The fire department defendants, some of whom were certified emergency medical technicians, performed a 30-second check on Jacob’s pulse by holding his wrist, which was frostbitten and cold to the touch. Failing to find a heartbeat, the fire department defendants pronounced him dead at 8:57 a.m.

Having declared Jacob dead, the fire department defendants cancelled the ambulance and called police to the scene. However, the paramedics had already arrived. The paramedic defendants spoke with the fire department defendants but did not separately evaluate Jacob’s condition and left after about two minutes. Several police officers arrived next. Shortly after the first police defendants arrived, the fire department defendants left. The police treated the area as a potential crime scene and notified the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office at 10:30 a.m.

The medical examiner’s office sent two investigators to the scene. After conducting an examination of Jacob’s body, which was still where it had been found almost two hours earlier, the investigators called defendant Assistant Medical Examiner Mitchel Morey, M.D. Based on the investigators’ report, Morey did not visit the scene. Eventually, the medical examiner’s office conducted an autopsy and determined that Jacob died of hypothermia. The autopsy listed the time of death as 8:48 a.m. Anderson alleges that Jacob may have in fact died several hours later, after emergency responders had declared him dead.

B.

Hypothermia is a medical condition that occurs when a body falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit and cannot produce enough heat to replace what it loses.3 App. 86. Frostbite is a medical condition that occurs when the skin and underlying tissues freeze. App. 87. Hypothermia and frostbite act together in ways that often disguise signs of life and make it particularly difficult for first responders to determine whether an individual is actually dead or just in a severely hypothermic condition. Id.

Despite appearances, individuals can make remarkable recoveries from even severe hypothermia. App. 88. As a result, first responders are trained to provide treatment even to apparently deceased hypothermia victims. For example, Minneapolis Fire Department standard operating procedures prescribe that first responders "[b]egin CPR immediately when [a] patient is found cold in a cold environment." App. 93. The Hennepin EMS protocol specifically notes that "clinical signs of death may be misleading" and instructs medical personnel to transport any bodies with a temperature below 86 degrees Fahrenheit in a cold environment to facilities prepared "for active internal rewarming." App. 104. Anderson alleges that Jacob passed away because these guidelines were not followed in this case.

C.

On December 8, 2016, Anderson and his wife, Kristi Anderson, filed a complaint in the district court against individual responders

934 F.3d 880

and the entities that responded to the 911 call. The complaint listed Anderson as the personal representative of Jacob’s estate.

On March 9, 2017, more than three years after Jacob’s death, Anderson was appointed as trustee for Jacob. On April 19, 2017, Anderson filed the operative Second Amended Complaint, alleging four causes of action under federal law and two causes of action under state law. The district court dismissed both state law causes of action, finding that, under Minnesota law, the claims were required to be brought by an appointed trustee within three years of Jacob’s death. Anderson does not appeal that decision.

The district court also dismissed the federal claims, all of which were brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of Jacob’s substantive due process rights by first responders and their employing municipalities. Although it held that a different statute of limitations governed those claims and they were therefore properly before the court, the district court concluded that qualified immunity barred the claims against the individual defendants. Anderson could not show that the individual defendants had violated Jacob’s substantive due process rights because he could not show that the state actors had created or exacerbated the danger to Jacob, placed Jacob "in custody," or alleged conduct sufficiently "conscience-shocking" to give rise to a claim under the Fourteenth Amendment. Because the district court found no individual liability, it dismissed the claims against the city and county defendants too.

Anderson timely appeals the federal claims advancing the single argument that the district court erred in finding qualified immunity, because the individual defendants created or exacerbated the danger to Jacob.

II.

Before reaching the merits of the dispute, "[w]e begin with jurisdiction, which is always our first and fundamental question." Franklin v. Peterson , 878 F.3d 631, 635 (8th Cir. 2017) (citation omitted). We review the district court’s determination that it had subject matter jurisdiction de novo . Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co. v. Vein Ctrs. for Excellence, Inc. , 912 F.3d 1076, 1080 (8th Cir. 2019). The defendants claim that we lack jurisdiction because this action was not brought by an appointed trustee within three years of Jacob’s death as Minnesota state survival law requires. See Minn. Stat. § 573.02, subd. 1. The district court thoroughly addressed this argument and correctly concluded that it (and we) have jurisdiction.

As the district court explained, we look to Minnesota’s survivorship statute only to determine who can bring a § 1983 action on behalf of a deceased individual. Estate of Guled v. City of Minneapolis , 869 F.3d 680, 683 (8th Cir. 2017). We do not incorporate other rules—like the limitations period—that are found in that statute. Rather, as we have held several times, the limitations period for all § 1983 actions in Minnesota comes from the state’s personal injury statute and is set at six years. See, e.g. , Egerdahl v. Hibbing Cmty. Coll. , 72 F.3d 615, 618 n.3 (8th Cir. 1995) ; Minn. Stat. § 541.05, subd. 1(5). We have jurisdiction because Anderson brought this suit within six years of Jacob’s death.

III.

We review the district court’s grant of a motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity de novo , taking the facts as alleged by the plaintiff. Groenewold v. Kelley , 888 F.3d 365, 370 (8th Cir. 2018).

934 F.3d 881

A.

Anderson’s claims against the various individual defendants in this case depend upon slightly different factual allegations, but they are essentially one claim: the defendants, by prematurely declaring Jacob...

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20 practice notes
  • Johnson v. City of Phila., No. 19-2938
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • September 22, 2020
    ...1271 (9th Cir. 2019) ; Estate of Her v. Hoeppner , 939 F.3d 872, 876 (7th Cir. 2019) ; Anderson ex rel. Anderson v. City of Minneapolis , 934 F.3d 876, 881 (8th Cir. 2019) ; Matthews v. Bergdorf , 889 F.3d 1136, 1150 (10th Cir. 2018) ; Okin v. Village of Cornwall-On-Hudson Police Dep't. , 5......
  • John Doe v. Univ. of Neb., 4:18CV3142
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Nebraska
    • April 3, 2020
    ...the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law." Anderson as trustee for next-of-kin of Anderson v. City of Minneapolis , 934 F.3d 876, 881 (8th Cir. 2019) (quoting Walker v. City of Pine Bluff , 414 F.3d 989, 992 (8th Cir. 2005) ).451 F.Supp.3d 1107 "Whether a given set of ......
  • PLAINLY INCOMPETENT: HOW QUALIFIED IMMUNITY BECAME AN EXCULPATORY DOCTRINE OF POLICE EXCESSIVE FORCE.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 170 Nbr. 2, January 2022
    • January 1, 2022
    ...(2020); Baxter v. Bracey, 751 F. App'x 869, 870 (6th Cir. 2018), cert, denied, 140 S. Ct. 1862 (2020); Anderson v. City of Minneapolis, 934 F.3d 876 (8th Cir. 2019), cert, denied, 141 S. Ct. 110 (2020); Zadeh v. Robinson, 928 F.3d 457 (5th Cir. 2019), cert, denied, 141 S. Ct 110 (2020); Cor......
  • United States v. Smith, Case No. 4:95-cr-00019-LPR-4
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Eastern District of Arkansas
    • May 14, 2020
    ...Resp. to Mot. for Compassionate Release (Doc. 432) at 3.26 See Anderson as trustee for next-of-kin of Anderson v. City of Minneapolis , 934 F.3d 876, 880 (8th Cir. 2019) ("Before reaching the merits of the dispute, ‘[w]e begin with jurisdiction, which is always our first and fundamental que......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • Johnson v. City of Phila., No. 19-2938
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • September 22, 2020
    ...1271 (9th Cir. 2019) ; Estate of Her v. Hoeppner , 939 F.3d 872, 876 (7th Cir. 2019) ; Anderson ex rel. Anderson v. City of Minneapolis , 934 F.3d 876, 881 (8th Cir. 2019) ; Matthews v. Bergdorf , 889 F.3d 1136, 1150 (10th Cir. 2018) ; Okin v. Village of Cornwall-On-Hudson Police Dep't. , 5......
  • John Doe v. Univ. of Neb., 4:18CV3142
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Nebraska
    • April 3, 2020
    ...the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law." Anderson as trustee for next-of-kin of Anderson v. City of Minneapolis , 934 F.3d 876, 881 (8th Cir. 2019) (quoting Walker v. City of Pine Bluff , 414 F.3d 989, 992 (8th Cir. 2005) ).451 F.Supp.3d 1107 "Whether a given set of ......
  • United States v. Smith, Case No. 4:95-cr-00019-LPR-4
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Eastern District of Arkansas
    • May 14, 2020
    ...Resp. to Mot. for Compassionate Release (Doc. 432) at 3.26 See Anderson as trustee for next-of-kin of Anderson v. City of Minneapolis , 934 F.3d 876, 880 (8th Cir. 2019) ("Before reaching the merits of the dispute, ‘[w]e begin with jurisdiction, which is always our first and fundamental que......
  • Banks v. Moore, 4:20-cv-00182 KGB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Eastern District of Arkansas
    • March 31, 2021
    ...by protecting all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.” Anderson ex rel. Anderson v. City of Minneapolis, 934 F.3d 876, 881 (8th Cir. 2019) (quoting Walker v. City of Pine Bluff, 414 F.3d 989, 992 (8th Cir. 2005)). The Fourth Amendment protects against “unreas......
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