Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 15–1589.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
Citation822 F.3d 159
Docket NumberNo. 15–1589.,15–1589.
PartiesGordon GOINES, Plaintiff–Appellant, v. VALLEY COMMUNITY SERVICES BOARD; David Shaw; Robert Dean; D.L. Williams ; Jenna Rhodes; John Does 1–10, Defendants–Appellees.
Decision Date09 May 2016

822 F.3d 159

Gordon GOINES, Plaintiff–Appellant
VALLEY COMMUNITY SERVICES BOARD; David Shaw; Robert Dean; D.L. Williams ; Jenna Rhodes; John Does 1–10, Defendants–Appellees.

No. 15–1589.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.

Argued: Jan. 26, 2016.
Decided: May 9, 2016.

822 F.3d 162

Timothy Lawrence Coffield, Coffield PLLC, Keswick, Virginia; Jesse Howard Baker, Law Office of Jesse Baker IV, Gainesville, Virginia, for Appellant. Richard Hustis Milnor, Zunka Milnor & Carter, Ltd., Charlottesville, Virginia; James Morton Bowling, St. John, Bowling, Lawrence & Quagliana, LLP, Charlottesville, Virginia; Rosalie Fessier, Timberlake, Smith, Thomas & Moses, PC, Staunton, Virginia, for Appellees.

Before TRAXLER, Chief Judge, and WILKINSON and NIEMEYER, Circuit Judges.

Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded by published opinion. Chief Judge TRAXLER wrote the opinion in which Judge WILKINSON and Judge NIEMEYER joined. Judge NIEMEYER wrote a separate concurring opinion.

TRAXLER, Chief Judge:

Gordon Goines went to the police station to report the theft of his cable services and ended up involuntarily detained for six days for a mental-health evaluation. Goines thereafter brought this action under

822 F.3d 163

42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that he was unlawfully seized without probable cause in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Goines named as defendants the police officers who initially detained him, as well as the mental-health worker who evaluated him, and the mental-health worker's employer. The district court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), and dismissed the complaint in its entirety. We conclude that the claims against the mental-health evaluator and her employer were properly dismissed. As to the two officers who initially took Goines into custody, however, we find the allegations of Goines' complaint sufficient to survive the motion to dismiss. We therefore affirm the district court's order in part, vacate in part, and remand for further proceedings.


In § 1983 actions, government officials are entitled to qualified immunity so long as they have not violated “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 73 L.Ed.2d 396 (1982). The contours of the law relevant to this case are easily stated. “[T]he general right to be free from seizure unless probable cause exists is clearly established in the mental health seizure context.... [A]n officer must have probable cause to believe that the individual posed a danger to himself or others before involuntarily detaining the individual.” Bailey v. Kennedy, 349 F.3d 731, 741 (4th Cir.2003) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted). We will consider the sufficiency of Goines' complaint in light of this standard.


According to the allegations of the complaint, Goines suffers from cerebellar ataxia, a neurological condition that causes him difficulties with his speech, balance, and certain fine motor functions. The disorder does not affect Goines' cognitive functioning, and he has no mental health issues.

In May 2014, Goines began experiencing problems with his cable television service—the service would intermittently disconnect and the television would freeze and produce loud line noises while it was turned on. A technician with the cable provider visited Goines on May 15 and determined that an unknown neighbor had spliced into Goines' cable, causing the disconnections and line noises. The technician advised Goines to report the theft to the police. Goines thereafter walked across the street to the police station and reported the cable theft, telling the police that he did not want to confront the neighbor because he did not know how the neighbor would react and he did not want to get into a fight.

The officer to whom Goines first spoke turned him over to defendant officers David Shaw and Robert Dean (together, the “Officers”). Goines agreed to take the Officers back to his apartment so he could demonstrate the problem. Because the Officers did not turn on the television, however, they did not hear the noises. The Officers asked Goines if he had any mental health issues, which Goines denied, and asked whether “he ‘wanted to talk to someone.’ ” J.A 12. Believing that he would be speaking to someone about the cable theft, Goines answered in the affirmative. The Officers then handcuffed Goines, walked him back to the police station, and placed him in the back of a patrol car. Goines told the Officers he wanted to go home and asked to be let out of the car,

822 F.3d 164

but Officer Dean told Goines “ ‘that wasn't an option.’ ” J.A. 12. The Officers transported Goines, involuntarily, to the Augusta County Medical Center, where he was strip-searched and handcuffed to a table. While at the Medical Center, the Officers learned that Goines owned a registered handgun. Goines volunteered to give the gun to the Officers if “ ‘there was a problem,’ ” J.A. 13, and Goines reiterated his desire to go home.

Goines was evaluated at the Medical Center by defendant Jenna Rhodes, an emergency services and intake clinician employed by defendant Valley Community Services Board. Goines attached as an exhibit to his complaint the “Preadmission Screening Report” completed by Rhodes. J.A. 22. In the Screening Report, Rhodes described her personal observations of Goines as well as information about Goines' statements and behavior that the Officers had provided her. Based on her observations and the Officers' information, Rhodes concluded that Goines suffered from a mental illness and that he posed a threat to the safety of his neighbors, and Rhodes filed a petition seeking to have Goines involuntarily detained. The magistrate judge granted the petition at 8:41 p.m. on May 15, 2014, and issued a temporary detention order. Goines thereafter was transported to Crossroads Mental Health Center, where he remained until he was released on May 20, 2014.

The facts set out above form the core of Goines' constitutional claims that the defendants violated the Fourth Amendment because they lacked probable cause to believe Goines had a mental illness and was a threat to himself or others. In addition to these facts, however, Goines' complaint contains several references to a report (the “Incident Report”) that Officer Shaw prepared sometime after the interaction with Goines.

Quoting from the Incident Report, the complaint states that the first police officer to whom Goines spoke told Officers Shaw and Dean that Goines “ ‘seemed to have some mental health issues going on over an issue with a television.’ ” J.A. 11. The complaint also alleges that the Officers “ignored or did not take the time to understand” the nature of Goines' problem—that someone had spliced into his cable, which was causing line noises and other issues when the television was turned on. As an apparent indication of the Officers' failure to understand, the complaint then quotes Shaw's statement in the Incident Report that Goines told the Officers that “ ‘there was a clicking noise in the wall because someone outside was controlling his T.V.’ ” J.A. 11. The complaint, again quoting from the Incident Report, states that even though Goines denied having any mental health issues, the Officers “[n]evertheless ... concluded that Goines was ‘having irrational issues and hearing things.’ ” J.A. 12.

Although Goines quoted the Incident Report in his complaint, he did not attach it as an exhibit or explicitly incorporate the entire report by reference. The defendants, however, attached a copy of the Incident Report to their motion to dismiss and referred to other parts of the Incident Report—i.e., parts not quoted by Goines—when arguing that Goines failed to state a claim.

While a 12(b)(6) motion focuses on the allegations of the complaint, it is well established that a document attached to a motion to dismiss may be considered when evaluating a motion to dismiss if the document was “integral to the complaint and authentic.” Sec'y of State For Defence v. Trimble Nav. Ltd., 484 F.3d 700, 705 (4th Cir.2007). The district court therefore treated the Incident Report as if it had been attached to the complaint and considered

822 F.3d 165

the contents of the Incident Report. Recognizing the general rule that the exhibit prevails in the event of a conflict between an attached exhibit and the allegations of a complaint, see S. Walk at Broadlands Homeowner's Ass'n v. OpenBand at Broadlands, LLC, 713 F.3d 175, 182 (4th Cir.2013), the district court believed that because the Incident Report was prepared by the Officers and reflected their version of the relevant events, an exception to the exhibit-prevails rule was required. Accordingly, when considering the sufficiency of Goines' complaint, the district court treated the contents of the Incident Report as true, except where “the complaint expressly conflicts with, or contradicts any factual allegations in the ... Incident Report.” J.A. 187–88 (emphasis added).

As to the constitutional claims against the Officers, the district court determined...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1238 cases
  • Blankenship v. Napolitano
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • March 31, 2020
    ...documents that are explicitly incorporated into the complaint by reference...." 451 F.Supp.3d 612 Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165–66 (4th Cir. 2016) (citing Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322, 127 S.Ct. 2499, 168 L.Ed.2d 179 (2007) ). Applic......
  • Riddick v. Watson
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • November 25, 2020
    ...converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d) ; see also Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir. 2016) (stating that the court's evaluation of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is "generally limited to a review of the al......
  • Saltz v. City of Frederick
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • May 10, 2021
    ...v. Weil , 918 F.3d 312, 317 (4th Cir. 2019) ; In re Birmingham , 846 F.3d 88, 92 (4th Cir. 2017) ; Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd. , 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir. 2016) ; McBurney v. Cuccinelli , 616 F.3d 393, 408 (4th Cir. 2010), aff'd sub nom. , McBurney v. Young , 569 U.S. 221, 133 S.......
  • Washington v. Balt. Police Dep't
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • May 6, 2020
    ...by way of a motion to dismiss. See, e.g. , In re Birmingham , 846 F.3d 88, 92 (4th Cir. 2017) ; Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd. , 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir. 2016). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion constitutes an assertion by a defendant that, even if the facts alleged by a plaintiff are true, t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Part two: case summaries by major topics.
    • United States
    • Detention and Corrections Caselaw Quarterly No. 69, June 2017
    • June 1, 2017
    ...FALSE IMPRISONMENT/ARREST U.S. Appeals Court FALSE ARREST FALSE IMPRISONMENT PROBABLE CAUSE Goines v. Valley Community Services Bd., 822 F.3d 159 (4th Cir. 2016). A detainee, who had a medical condition, cerebellar ataxia, and who went to a police station to report theft of his cable servic......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT