Moore ex rel. Moore v. Briggs, No. 03-3643.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtLoken
Citation381 F.3d 771
PartiesSean MOORE, a disabled person, by his guardian Darlene MOORE, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Terry BRIGGS, et al., Defendants-Appellants,
Decision Date25 August 2004
Docket NumberNo. 03-3643.

Page 771

381 F.3d 771
Sean MOORE, a disabled person, by his guardian Darlene MOORE, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Terry BRIGGS, et al., Defendants-Appellants,
No. 03-3643.
United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.
Submitted: April 16, 2004.
Filed: August 25, 2004.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, E. Richard Webber, J.

Page 772

James R. McAdams, argued, AAG, Jefferson City, MO (Gail Vasterling, Gary Gardner, Bart Matanic, and Joel Anderson, AAGs of Jefferson City, Denise Thomas, Denise McElvein and Deborah Yates of St. Louis appeared on the brief), for appellant.

Genevieve J. Nichols, St. Louis, MO (Mary Coffey, St. Louis, MO, on the brief).

Before LOKEN, Chief Judge, BYE, Circuit Judge, and MAGNUSON,* District Judge.

LOKEN, Chief Judge.


Sixteen employees of the St. Charles Habilitation Center ("the Center") appeal a district court order denying them qualified immunity from Sean Moore's § 1983 claim that they violated his constitutional right to substantive due process by failing to protect him from assault by another resident. Qualified immunity shields government officials from liability for civil damages for discretionary acts that do not "violate 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). We have jurisdiction to consider issues of law raised by the pretrial denial of qualified immunity; we review those issues de novo. King v. Beavers, 148 F.3d 1031, 1033 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 1002, 119 S.Ct. 513, 142 L.Ed.2d 426 (1998). We conclude that Moore has failed to show that defendants acted with the degree of culpability required to establish a substantive due process violation and therefore reverse.

I.

The Center is a residential group home for the mentally retarded operated by the State of Missouri Department of Mental Health. The Center has both voluntarily and involuntarily committed residents. In 1995, Darlene Moore, Sean Moore's legally-appointed guardian and mother, placed him at the Center. Moore was then twenty-three years old. He suffers from moderate mental retardation, Down syndrome, and impaired hearing.

Cardell Hunn was transferred to the Center in March 1998. He was then a sixteen-year-old mentally retarded pedophile under family court supervision for sexual abuse of a young child. The Center initially placed him on "1:1 Staff Supervision," within arm's reach of staff at all times. Three days later, supervision was reduced to "Eye Contact," which requires continuous staff supervision, and the next day to "Close Supervision," which requires staff checks every fifteen minutes. In April, Hunn was found crouching behind the door of a male resident's room, pulling up his pants. In June, when the same resident complained that Hunn made him bend over the bed, Hunn admitted he hit the resident on his "bootie" and it had happened twice before. An emergency

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room examination of the victim revealed no evidence of trauma or rape. The next day, the Center placed Hunn on Eye Contact supervision, moved him to another cottage at the insistence of the other resident's family, and placed an alarm on Hunn's door.

Three days later, on June 8, 1998, the Center moved Hunn to the home where Moore resided, reduced Hunn's supervision level to Close Supervision during waking hours with checks every thirty minutes, and again placed an alarm on his door. At 9:55 p.m. on August 13, a staff member observed Hunn coming out of Moore's room. When confronted, Hunn had a finger from a rubber glove in his hand. He said he had been "digging in [Moore's] bootie" and admitted the same thing happened two weeks earlier. Examination of Moore revealed no irritation or semen. Moore's guardian removed him from the Center in July 1999 and filed this lawsuit one year later.

II.

Moore's complaint alleged that defendants violated his substantive due process right to be free of physical and emotional abuse by failing to protect him from Hunn's sexual assaults. In general, "a State's failure to protect an individual against private violence simply does not constitute a violation of the Due Process Clause." DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dep't of Soc. Servs., 489 U.S. 189, 197, 109 S.Ct. 998, 103 L.Ed.2d 249 (1989). We have recognized two exceptions to DeShaney's general rule. See Dorothy J. v. Little Rock Sch. Dist., 7 F.3d 729, 732-34 (8th Cir.1993); Gregory v. City of Rogers, 974 F.2d 1006, 1010 (8th Cir.1992) (en banc), cert. denied, 507 U.S. 913, 113 S.Ct. 1265, 122 L.Ed.2d 661 (1993). The district court's opinion denying qualified immunity and the parties' briefs on appeal focus primarily on whether Moore's residency at the Center...

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34 practice notes
  • Cross v. Mokwa, No. 07-3110.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit
    • November 14, 2008
    ...2727, 73 L.Ed.2d 396 (1982). Reviewing the denial of qualified immunity de novo, we reverse in part. See Moore ex rel. Moore v. Briggs, 381 F.3d 771, 772 (8th Cir.2004) (standard of I. Claims Relating to the Events at 3309 Illinois The house at 3309 Illinois was condemned as unsafe for occu......
  • Surlock v. Delaney, 5:11-cv-1121 (MAD/DEP)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
    • June 8, 2016
    ...shocks the conscience standard to Fourteenth Amendment claims alleged by involuntarily committed patients); Moore ex rel. Moore v. Briggs, 381 F.3d 771, 773 (8th Cir. 2004) (applying the shocks the conscience standard to Fourteenth Amendment claims alleged by involuntarily committed patient......
  • Aselton v. Town of East Hartford, No. 17383.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • February 7, 2006
    ...Velez-Diaz v. Vega-Irizarry, 421 F.3d 71, 80 (1st Cir.2005); Schroder v. Fort Thomas, 412 F.3d 724, 727 (6th Cir.2005); Moore v. Briggs, 381 F.3d 771, 773 (8th Cir.2004); Brown v. Dept. of Health Emergency Medical Services Training Institute, 318 F.3d 473, 478-79 (3d Cir.2003); Gonzales v. ......
  • Palmore v. City of Pac., Case No. 4:09CV1073SNLJ.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • March 30, 2010
    ...965 (8th Cir.2007), quoting Terrell v. Larson, 396 F.3d 975, 978 (8th Cir.2005) (quotations and citations omitted) and Moore v. Briggs, 381 F.3d 771, 773 (8th Cir.2004). “To violate substantive due process, the conduct of an executive official must be conscience shocking and must violate ‘o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
34 cases
  • Cross v. Mokwa, No. 07-3110.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit
    • November 14, 2008
    ...2727, 73 L.Ed.2d 396 (1982). Reviewing the denial of qualified immunity de novo, we reverse in part. See Moore ex rel. Moore v. Briggs, 381 F.3d 771, 772 (8th Cir.2004) (standard of I. Claims Relating to the Events at 3309 Illinois The house at 3309 Illinois was condemned as unsafe for occu......
  • Surlock v. Delaney, 5:11-cv-1121 (MAD/DEP)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
    • June 8, 2016
    ...shocks the conscience standard to Fourteenth Amendment claims alleged by involuntarily committed patients); Moore ex rel. Moore v. Briggs, 381 F.3d 771, 773 (8th Cir. 2004) (applying the shocks the conscience standard to Fourteenth Amendment claims alleged by involuntarily committed patient......
  • Aselton v. Town of East Hartford, No. 17383.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • February 7, 2006
    ...Velez-Diaz v. Vega-Irizarry, 421 F.3d 71, 80 (1st Cir.2005); Schroder v. Fort Thomas, 412 F.3d 724, 727 (6th Cir.2005); Moore v. Briggs, 381 F.3d 771, 773 (8th Cir.2004); Brown v. Dept. of Health Emergency Medical Services Training Institute, 318 F.3d 473, 478-79 (3d Cir.2003); Gonzales v. ......
  • Palmore v. City of Pac., Case No. 4:09CV1073SNLJ.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • March 30, 2010
    ...965 (8th Cir.2007), quoting Terrell v. Larson, 396 F.3d 975, 978 (8th Cir.2005) (quotations and citations omitted) and Moore v. Briggs, 381 F.3d 771, 773 (8th Cir.2004). “To violate substantive due process, the conduct of an executive official must be conscience shocking and must violate ‘o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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