Keates v. Koile

Decision Date06 March 2018
Docket NumberNo. 16-16568,16-16568
Citation883 F.3d 1228
Parties Ellen KEATES; A. K., a minor, through her parent and guardian Ellen Keates, Plaintiffs–Appellants, v. Michael KOILE; Karen Howard; Gillian Vanesse; Rita Gomez ; Sarah Jenkins; Kimberly Pender; Joanna Lensche; and Steve Rountree, individually as employees with the State of Arizona Child Protective Services; Clarence H. Carter, individually as Director, Arizona Department of Economic Security; State of Arizona, a political entity; Unknown Parties, John and Jane Does 1–5; Black Entities 1–5, Defendants–Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit

Geoff Morris (argued) and DeeAn Gillespie Strub, Gillespie Shields Durrant & Goldfarb, Phoenix, Arizona, for PlaintiffsAppellants.

James B. Bowen (argued), Assistant Attorney General; Mark Brnovich, Attorney General; Office of the Attorney General, Phoenix, Arizona; for DefendantsAppellees.

Before: Milan D. Smith, Jr. and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judges, and John D. Bates,* District Judge.

IKUTA, Circuit Judge:

Ellen Keates and her minor child, A.K., appeal the dismissal of their claims against Michael Koile and other officers and employees of what was then the Child Protective Services (CPS) division of the Arizona Department of Economic Security (ADES), which allege (among other things) violations of Keates's and A.K.'s constitutional rights to familial association.1 These claims all stem from CPS's actions to remove A.K. from her mother's custody following A.K.'s hospitalization for depression and suicidal ideation. We conclude that certain of Keates's and A.K.'s claims against the defendants who allegedly participated in the interference with familial association withstand the motion to dismiss.


The operative complaint includes the following factual allegations. In May 2013, A.K. was thirteen years old and had been experiencing depression for four to six months, and "[o]n occasion, she had suicidal ideations

." Ellen Keates is the mother of A.K. On May 20, 2013, Keates took A.K. to Christ Cares Clinic where A.K. told an employee that she was sad and had contemplated suicide in the past, but stated that she was not currently experiencing suicidal ideation. The clinic employee referred A.K. to the emergency room at Phoenix Children's Hospital (PCH), where A.K. was seen by a triage nurse and a doctor who ordered a psychological consultation and evaluation by a social worker.

Notes from the triage nurse at PCH stated that A.K. expressed feeling sad and depressed, admitted to having suicidal ideation, "but denied having a plan to carry it out." Several hours later, Randy Call, a PCH employee, and Julie Kaplan, a PCH social worker, told Keates that A.K. could go home if Keates provided a safety plan for A.K. Keates offered several options, including having A.K. stay home with her twelve-year old brother, having A.K. stay with a neighbor, or dropping A.K. off at the public library. Call and Kaplan rejected these options. Keates explained that she was self-employed and staying at home would cost her some business, but Keates nevertheless said she would stay home with A.K.

Call and Kaplan then informed Keates that the decision had been made to prevent A.K. from going home with Keates, and that she was required to go to a mental hospital for inpatient treatment. Keates stated that she lacked health insurance to pay for inpatient treatment. When Call, Kaplan, or another hospital staff person asked Keates for her contact information, Keates said she was "unwilling to give PCH agents information that could lead [her] to being billed for an unnecessary, and increasingly costly, stay at PCH." Keates "furiously expressed her concern" to hospital staff that "PCH was going to hold A.K. hostage until PCH received information to bill [her]." Nevertheless, while talking to Call and Kaplan, Keates did provide her name, phone number and other contact information.

At some point after Keates had refused to provide contact information for billing, "someone" from PCH called CPS to report that "A.K. was suffering severe depression and had attempted a suicide by strangulation on May 20, 2013." PCH staff told CPS that "inpatient care was necessary"—although they had previously told Keates it was merely recommended—and that Keates "was not able to enact a safety plan." Kaplan subsequently wrote a report stating that "[b]ecause mother refused to provide any identifying information, other than [patient's] name, CPS report was made during assessment for fear that mother would take [patient] and leave." Randy Call spoke to or was referred to CPS employees Joanna Lensche and Steve Rountree. CPS employees Michael Koile, Kim Pender, and Gillian Vanesse were also involved early in the investigation.

At the end of the discussion among Keates and PCH staff, Kaplan told Keates that A.K. would be reassessed in the morning and that Keates should go home and call PCH for the results of the second assessment the next day. Keates went home, but when she called the next morning, May 21, she was told "there would be no second assessment and that CPS had told PCH that Ms. Keates was not to have any contact with A.K. and was not to come back to PCH."

On the morning of May 21, Koile, a CPS case worker, interviewed A.K. without Keates present and without Keates's consent. A.K. reported that her only complaint about her mother was that she "yells, screams, and cusses." A.K. also told Koile that she had suicidal ideation

in the past but had not attempted suicide on May 20; the doctor at Christ Cares Clinic had misunderstood her.

Later on May 21, around 11:45 A.M., Koile issued a temporary custody notice (TCN) allowing him to take A.K. away from Keates and put her into CPS custody. In preparing and issuing this order, Koile collaborated with his colleagues, Joanna Lensche and Steve Rountree, and had the advice, consent and approval of his supervisor, Kim Pender. Keates was not at the hospital at the time Koile issued the TCN. A CPS case worker, Karen Howard, later wrote a letter to Keates stating that CPS took custody of A.K. because Keates did not have health insurance and was unwilling to share her contact information with PCH. Koile told PCH that Keates was "prohibited from visiting A.K. during the remainder of A.K.'s stay at PCH."

A.K. was discharged from PCH on May 21, 2013. She was strapped to a gurney and delivered by ambulance to Aurora Behavioral Health System (ABHS) in Tempe, Arizona. During intake at ABHS, Koile told the intake nurse that A.K. had tried to commit suicide on May 20, 2013. But A.K. told the intake nurse that she "did not have, at that time, any [suicidal ideation

]" and while "she had some [suicidal ideation ] over the course of the previous several months," she had no plan to commit suicide. She stated that "she was depressed but she did not feel like she needed to be here" and told the intake nurse that the doctor at Christ Cares Clinic "misunderstood her in that A.K. had thoughts of choking herself in the past, but that was a while ago and she did not feel like that now." The intake nurse at ABHS found A.K.'s suicide risk to be low.

A.K. remained at ABHS despite the intake nurse's conclusion that she was low risk. A.K. expressed her desire to go home and her anger at not being able to have any contact with her mother. Nevertheless, Koile directed ABHS not to allow Keates to have contact with A.K.

On May 22, 2013, Koile interviewed Keates, who told him that A.K. did not attempt suicide on May 20. The next day, Koile informed ABHS that he had concluded that Keates was unable to care for A.K. and that a dependency petition would be filed. The Arizona Department of Economic Security filed a dependency petition on behalf of CPS on May 24, 2013. The petition stated that A.K. attempted suicide on May 20, 2013.

Koile told Keates that A.K. would be required to receive "intensive outpatient treatment at ABHS" and that if Keates "could not make financial arrangements for that care, A.K. was not going home." On May 29, 2013, A.K. was discharged from ABHS, which again assessed her as having a low risk for suicide. ABHS told Keates that A.K. did not need intensive outpatient treatment, and that it "rarely ever provides such treatment."

After she was discharged from ABHS, A.K. was placed in a foster home. She did not receive intensive outpatient treatment or her prescribed psychotropic drugs. She was placed in a shelter when her foster mother went on vacation and was later placed in a group home. The group home initially failed to transport A.K. to high school, where she had been accepted into the honors program, and only later provided transportation pursuant to a court order. After spending nearly four months outside of her mother's custody, A.K. returned home on September 12, 2013. The dependency petition was dismissed on November 26, 2013.

Keates, on behalf of herself and A.K., filed this action in state court, and the defendants removed the case to federal court. Keates filed the operative complaint, which alleged that the defendants had violated Keates's and A.K.'s constitutional rights to familial association under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments and the right to be free from deliberately falsified evidence in dependency proceedings, among other claims. The complaint also alleged various state law claims.

The district court dismissed Keates's constitutional claims with prejudice on the ground that all defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. The district court concluded that Koile did not violate Keates's and A.K.'s constitutional rights to familial association because Koile had reasonable cause to believe that A.K. was in imminent danger of serious bodily injury, and the scope of the intrusion was reasonably necessary to avert that injury. Further, the district court held that the complaint did not allege facts sufficient to establish that Koile presented deliberately...

To continue reading

Request your trial
489 cases
  • Kandi v. Langford
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Central District of California
    • November 14, 2018 relief from a specific defendant for specific misconduct. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted); see also Keates v. Koile, 883 F.3d 1228, 1242 (9th Cir. 2018) ("[A] [Section 1983] plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official's own individual acti......
  • Sabra v. Maricopa Cnty. Cmty. Coll. Dist.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • August 10, 2022
    ...qualified immunity at the motion-to-dismiss stage can sometimes present "special problems for legal decision making," Keates v. Koile , 883 F.3d 1228, 1234 (9th Cir. 2018), particularly when we are "aided only by the skeletal ... factual picture sketched out in the complaint," Wong v. Unite......
  • Martin for C.M. v. Hermiston School District 8R
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Oregon
    • November 4, 2020 the deprivation; or for conduct that showed a reckless or callous indifference to the rights of others.’ " Keates v. Koile , 883 F.3d 1228, 1243 (9th Cir. 2018) (quoting Starr v. Baca , 652 F.3d 1202, 1207 (9th Cir. 2011) ). Defendants Faateete and Usher argue that they are not liable to......
  • Anderson v. Cnty. of Fresno
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of California
    • April 3, 2023
    ...a violation of a clearly established constitutional right,' then plaintiff[ is] ‘entitled to go forward' with [his] claims.” Keates, 883 F.3d at 1235 (quoting Pelletier Fed. Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, 968 F.2d 865, 872 (9th Cir. 1992)). Given the stage of pleadings, Plaintiffs argue d......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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