Rawlings v. Iowa Dept. of Human Services, 3-90-CV-30063.

Citation820 F. Supp. 423
Decision Date07 May 1993
Docket NumberNo. 3-90-CV-30063.,3-90-CV-30063.
PartiesChristine RAWLINGS, Plaintiff, v. IOWA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of Iowa

Christine Rawlings, pro se.

Richard E. Ramsey, Des Moines, IA, for defendant.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT IOWA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

BENNETT, United States Magistrate Judge.

Defendant Iowa Department of Human Services has moved for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. The motion raises a threshold issue, unrelated to the merits of Rawlings' due process claims arising from her denial of benefits under Medicare and Medicaid: Is the Iowa Department of Human Services, admittedly a state agency, a "person" within the meaning of the phrase as used in section 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983? If the Iowa Department of Human Services, the sole Defendant in this litigation, is not a "person" within the meaning of § 1983, then Rawlings' complaint, premised solely on § 1983, must be dismissed.

I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

Pro se Plaintiff, Christine Rawlings, brings this case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Defendant, Iowa Department of Human Resources. In her amended complaint, filed on March 30, 1993, Rawlings contends, inter alia, that the Iowa Department of Human Services has deprived benefits due her under Medicare and Medicaid in violation of the Due Process Clause, and that the Iowa Department of Human Services' management of the Medicaid program has been so arbitrary and capricious as to be violative of due process. For relief, Rawlings seeks compensatory damages. On April 22, 1993, the parties, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), consented to trial of this matter before a United States magistrate judge, and this case was transferred to the undersigned.

Iowa Department of Human Services has moved for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Iowa Department of Human Services raises four contentions in its motion for summary judgment: first, that Iowa Department of Human Services, as a public entity, is not a "person" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; second, that Iowa Department of Human Services is immune from lawsuits under the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution; third, that Rawlings has failed to exhaust her administrative remedies; and finally, that Rawlings is barred from obtaining the relief sought in this case.

Rawlings has resisted the Iowa Department of Human Services' Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the court is compelled to conclude that the Iowa Department of Human Services is not a "person" within the meaning of that phrase in 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Therefore, the court must grant Iowa Department of Human Services' Motion for Summary Judgment.

II. FINDINGS OF FACT

Rawlings has brought suit solely against the Iowa Department of Human Services. Defendant, Iowa Department of Human Services, is an agency of the State of Iowa. The Iowa Department of Human Services is responsible for administration of the Medicaid program in Iowa. See generally 42 U.S.C. § 1396a; Iowa Code ch. 249A. Medicare is the health insurance program established under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act. See generally 42 U.S.C. § 1395c. Unlike Medicaid, which is a medical assistance plan under Title XIX of the Social Security Act, Medicare is not administered by the Iowa Department of Human Services.

III. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

A. Standards for Summary Judgment. The standard for granting summary judgment is firmly established. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that summary judgment is proper only if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Wabun-Inini v. Sessions, 900 F.2d 1234, 1238 (8th Cir.1990) (citing Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c)); Woodsmith Publishing Co. v. Meredith Corp., 904 F.2d 1244, 1247 (8th Cir.1990).1 A court considering a motion for summary judgment must view all the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and give that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the facts. Matsushita v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986) (quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993, 993, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962)); Burk v. Beene, 948 F.2d 489, 492 (8th Cir.1991).

The Eighth Circuit recognizes "that summary judgment is a drastic remedy and must be exercised with extreme care to prevent taking genuine issues of fact away from juries." Wabun-Inini, 900 F.2d at 1238. The Eighth Circuit, however, also follows the principle that "summary judgment procedure is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed `to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action.'" Id. (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2554-55, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)); Hartnagel v. Norman, 953 F.2d 394, 396 (8th Cir.1992).

Procedurally, the moving party bears "the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record which show lack of a genuine issue." Hartnagel, 953 F.2d at 395 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. at 2552-53). The moving party is not required by Rule 56 to support its motion with affidavits or other similar materials negating the opponent's claim. Id.

"When a moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586, 106 S.Ct. at 1355-56. A nonmoving party is required under Rule 56(e) to go beyond the pleadings, and by affidavits, or by the "depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file," designate "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(e); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324, 106 S.Ct. at 2553. The necessary proof that the nonmoving party must produce is not precisely measurable, but it must be "enough evidence so that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmovant." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 257, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2514-15, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

In Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, 106 S.Ct. at 2510-11; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24, 106 S.Ct. at 2552-53; and Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586-87, 106 S.Ct. at 1355-56, the Supreme Court established that a summary judgment motion should be interpreted by the trial court to accomplish its purpose of disposing of factually unsupported claims, and the trial judge's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Johnson v. Enron Corp., 906 F.2d 1234, 1237 (8th Cir.1990). The trial court, therefore, must "assess the adequacy of the nonmovants' response and whether that showing, on admissible evidence, would be sufficient to carry the burden of proof at trial." Hartnagel, 953 F.2d at 396 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. at 2552). If the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing of an essential element of a claim with respect to which it has the burden of proof, then the moving party is "entitled to judgment as a matter of law". Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. at 2552-53; Woodsmith, 904 F.2d at 1247. However, if the court can conclude that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmovant, then summary judgment should not be granted. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510; Burk, 948 F.2d at 492; Woodsmith, 904 F.2d at 1247.

B. The "Person" Requirement of 42 U.S.C. Section 1983.

Section 1983 provides, in relevant part:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress. (emphasis supplied).

"`Section 1983 provides a cause of action against "`persons'" only.'" Barket, Levy & Fine v. St. Louis Thermal Energy Corp., 948 F.2d 1084, 1086 (8th Cir.1991) (quoting Deretich v. Office of Admin. Hearings, 798 F.2d 1147, 1154 (8th Cir.1986)).

The seminal case on the question before the court is the United States Supreme Court's decision in Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71, 109 S.Ct. 2304, 2311-12, 105 L.Ed.2d 45 (1989), in which the Court held "that neither a State nor its officials acting in their official capacities are `persons' under § 1983."2 In Will, the plaintiff brought suit in Michigan state court against the Michigan Department of State Police and the Director of the State Police over the denial of a promotion. Id. 491 U.S. at 60, 109 S.Ct. at 2305-06. The Michigan state court found that the defendants were "persons for the purposes of § 1983." Id. at 61, 109 S.Ct. at 2306-07. In reversing that determination, the Michigan Supreme Court held that neither a state nor state officials acting in their official capacity were persons under § 1983. Id.3

In affirming the decision of the Michigan Supreme Court, the United States Supreme Court advanced three reasons for its conclusion that a state was not a "person" under section 1983. First, the Court noted that the language of § 1983, and the meaning of the word "person" did not lend themselves to such a contrary construction. See id. at 64-66, 109 S.Ct. at 2307-09. Second, the Court looked to the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3 cases
  • McCabe v. Macaulay
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • October 1, 2007
    ...because the State of Missouri and its agencies are not `persons' under sections 1983 and 1985(3)."); Rawlings v. Iowa. Dep't of Human Servs., 820 F.Supp. 423, 428 (S.D.Iowa 1993) (granting summary judgment to the Iowa Department of Human Services, because it was a state agency and not a "pe......
  • Marr v. State of Maine Department of Human Services, Civil No. 01-224-B-C (D. Me. 4/24/2002), Civil No. 01-224-B-C.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maine
    • April 24, 2002
    ...nor a state official acting in his official capacity may be sued for damages in a section 1983 action."); Rawlings v. Iowa Dep't of Human Servs., 820 F. Supp. 423, 427 (S.D.Iowa 1993) ("[B]ecause a state agency was a party to the case [the Will decision] must be construed as implicitly hold......
  • Kenyon v. Dooley
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of South Dakota
    • July 25, 2014
    ...an agency, also cannot be personally involved because it is not a person for the purposes of § 1983. Rawlings v. Iowa Department of Human Services, 820 F. Supp. 423, 425 (D. Iowa 1993). 9. When Kenyon was still experiencing pain, his medical provider recommended Tylenol #3 be added to Kenyo......

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