Wolotsky v. Huhn, No. 91-3677

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtMILBURN; Similarly, even if the reasoning of Judge Merritt's dissent in Adams were applied to this case, the result would be a conclusion that the decision to discharge plaintiff was not state action. In his dissent in Adams
Citation960 F.2d 1331
PartiesSteven A. WOLOTSKY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Ralph HUHN; Jerome T. Kraker; and Portage Path Community Mental Health Center, Defendants-Appellees.
Decision Date04 March 1992
Docket NumberNo. 91-3677

Page 1331

960 F.2d 1331
Steven A. WOLOTSKY, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ralph HUHN; Jerome T. Kraker; and Portage Path Community
Mental Health Center, Defendants-Appellees.
No. 91-3677.
United States Court of Appeals,
Sixth Circuit.
Argued Feb. 13, 1992.
Decided March 4, 1992 *.

Page 1332

Edward L. Gilbert, Akron, Ohio (argued and briefed), for plaintiff-appellant.

Page 1333

Joseph M. Holden, John W. Solomon (briefed), Sallie Conley Lux (argued), and Deborah K. Urban, Brouse & McDowell, Akron, Ohio, for defendants-appellees.

Before: MILBURN and RYAN, Circuit Judges; and ZATKOFF, District Judge. **

MILBURN, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff Steven A. Wolotsky appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants and the dismissal of his pendent state law claims in this civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985. Seeking damages and declaratory relief, plaintiff alleged that he was denied due process and the equal protection of the law when he was terminated from his employment. The principal issues presented for review are: (1) whether the district court erred in granting summary judgment for defendants on plaintiff's section 1983 and section 1985 claims, and (2) whether the district court erred in limiting the scope of discovery pursuant to the motion for summary judgment to the issue of whether defendant Portage Path Community Mental Health Center was a state actor for purposes of section 1983. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

I.

A.

Plaintiff is a social worker licensed by the State of Ohio. Defendant Portage Path Community Mental Health Center ("Portage Path") is a private non-profit corporation which provides counseling and mental health services to the community. Approximately sixty persons are employed by Portage Path at four locations in Summit County, Ohio. Portage Path charges clients on a sliding scale based upon the individual's ability to pay.

Portage Path contracts with the Summit County Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board to provide mental health services for the county. The contract delegates the role of direct provider of public mental health services from the county to Portage Path. The contract also details all the funds from the county, state or federal governments which are provided to Portage Path to permit it to provide services. Further, the contract requires Portage Path to comply with applicable regulations, and to submit to a review of the care given at Portage Path as well as audits of financial records documenting spending at Portage Path. During the five-year period prior to the commencement of this action, Portage Path derived approximately 75 percent of its funding as a result of the contract with the County Mental Health Services Board, and patient fees supplied approximately 25 percent of Portage Path's annual funding.

The governing body of Portage Path is a fourteen-member Board of Trustees. The Board makes personnel policies for Portage Path and has the authority to appoint an executive director to manage the day-to-day activities of Portage Path. New trustees are chosen by the Board. Neither state, county or federal officials have any input in the selection of trustees.

Defendant Jerome T. Kraker is the Executive Director of Portage Path. The third defendant named in plaintiff's complaint, Ralph Huhn, is a psychologist at Portage Path. He provides direct counseling services to clients of Portage Path who suffer from mental health problems and recommends a course of treatment for the clients.

Plaintiff was hired as a social worker at Portage Path in August 1988. His duties included providing counseling to clients with mental health problems. Prior to his employment at Portage Path, plaintiff was employed at another private, non-profit mental health clinic. At the time plaintiff was hired at Portage Path, he was participating in Ohio's Public Employee Retirement

Page 1334

System ("PERS"). Portage Path worked with the County Mental Health Services Board to allow plaintiff and two other employees, who had previously contributed to PERS, to continue such contributions while employed at Portage Path. This option was not made available to other employees of Portage Path, but it was made available to plaintiff due to provisions of state law.

In addition, between August 1988 and December 1989, Portage Path leased office space from the State of Ohio for a nominal fee and used the space to operate a mental health clinic in the northern quadrant of Summit County. The state rented the facility to Portage Path for a nominal fee after the state lost its former tenant at the site. The state needed a new mental health care provider at that location because the facility had been constructed with grant monies which required the provision of mental health services from the building. The state would have been required to repay the construction grant if mental health services were not provided from the building.

On January 21, 1990, plaintiff was terminated as the result of allegations from a patient at Portage Path that plaintiff had performed homosexual acts on the patient. The termination occurred without warning, and plaintiff was not accorded a hearing prior to his termination.

B.

Plaintiff filed his complaint on December 10, 1990. The complaint alleged five different causes of action. The first cause of action alleged a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on plaintiff's claim that he was denied due process and equal protection of the law in connection with the decision to discharge him. The second cause of action alleged a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985 and claims that defendants, as state actors, conspired to deprive plaintiff of equal protection and due process in connection with his discharge. The three remaining claims were state law claims for breach of contract, slander and defamation, and the intentional infliction of serious emotional distress.

At a pretrial conference on March 4, 1991, defendant Portage Path informed the court that it intended to seek summary judgment on the federal claims on the grounds of lack of federal court jurisdiction. Consequently, the district court limited the initial discovery to the issue of whether Portage Path acted under color of state law in terminating plaintiff.

On April 18, 1991, Portage Path filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the section 1983 and section 1985 claims, on the ground that Portage Path did not act under color of state law in terminating plaintiff. On June 21, 1991, the district court granted the motion for partial summary judgment concluding that Portage Path did not act under color of state law in terminating plaintiff. Further, the district court declined to exercise pendent jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims and dismissed them without prejudice. This timely appeal followed.

II.

A.

This court reviews a district court's grant of summary judgment de novo. See EEOC v. University of Detroit, 904 F.2d 331, 334 (6th Cir.1990). Summary judgment is proper if the record shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. See Canderm Pharmacal, Ltd. v. Elder Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 862 F.2d 597, 601 (6th Cir.1988). Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the court should determine whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511-12, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

B.

Plaintiff challenges the grant of summary judgment, arguing that defendant

Page 1335

Portage Path was a state actor for purposes of section 1983. Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that he was deprived of a right secured by the Federal Constitution or laws of the United States by a person acting under color of state law. See Jones v. Duncan, 840 F.2d 359, 361-62 (6th Cir.1988). The principal inquiry in determining whether a private party's actions constitute "state action" under the Fourteenth Amendment is whether the party's actions may be "fairly attributable to the state." See Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937, 102 S.Ct. 2744, 2753, 73 L.Ed.2d 482 (1982). The Supreme Court has set forth three tests to determine whether the challenged conduct may be fairly attributable to the state in order to hold the defendants liable under section 1983. These tests are: (1) the public function test, West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 49-50, 108 S.Ct. 2250, 2255-2256, 101 L.Ed.2d 40 (1988); Flagg Bros. v. Brooks, 436 U.S. 149, 157, 98 S.Ct. 1729, 1734, 56 L.Ed.2d 185 (1978); (2) the state compulsion test, Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 170, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 1615, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970); and (3) the symbiotic relationship or nexus test, Burton v. Wilmington Parking Auth., 365 U.S. 715, 721-26, 81 S.Ct. 856, 859-62, 6 L.Ed.2d 45 (1961).

Plaintiff cannot establish that defendant is a state actor under the public function test. The public function test requires that the private entity exercise powers...

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  • Doe ex rel. Doe v. Warren Consolidated Schools, No. 00-CV-72956-DT.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • 13 de fevereiro de 2003
    ...by the United States Constitution. Neuens v. City of Columbus, 303 F.3d 667, 670 (6th Cir.2002) (citation omitted); Wolotsky v. Huhn, 960 F.2d 1331, 1334-35 (6th Cir.1992) (citation omitted). 1. Individual Defendants The individual defendants argue that they are entitled to qualified immuni......
  • Marie v. Cross, No. 13–4052.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 14 de novembro de 2014
    ...entwinement test. Vistein v. Am. Registry of Radiologic Technologists, 342 Fed.Appx. 113, 127 (6th Cir.2009) (citing Wolotsky v. Huhn, 960 F.2d 1331, 1335 (6th Cir.1992); Brentwood Acad. v. Tenn. Secondary Sch. Ath. Ass'n, 531 U.S. 288, 298, 121 S.Ct. 924, 148 L.Ed.2d 807 (2001)).6 To show ......
  • Romanski v. Detroit Entertainment, L.L.C., No. 04-1354.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 28 de outubro de 2005
    ...U.S. 149, 155, 98 S.Ct. 1729, 56 L.Ed.2d 185 (1978); Chapman v. Higbee Co., 319 F.3d 825, 833 (6th Cir.2003) (en banc); Wolotsky v. Huhn, 960 F.2d 1331, 1335 (6th Cir.1992). A private actor acts under color of state law when its conduct is "fairly attributable to the state." Lugar v. Edmond......
  • Communities for Equity v. Michigan High Sch. Athl., No. 1:98-CV-479.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • 21 de janeiro de 2000
    ...whether a private party is a "state actor" is whether the party's actions may be `fairly attributable to the state.'" Wolotsky v. Huhn, 960 F.2d 1331, 1335 (6th Cir.1992) citing Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937, 102 S.Ct. 2744, 73 L.Ed.2d 482 (1982). The Supreme Court has creat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
349 cases
  • Doe ex rel. Doe v. Warren Consolidated Schools, No. 00-CV-72956-DT.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • 13 de fevereiro de 2003
    ...by the United States Constitution. Neuens v. City of Columbus, 303 F.3d 667, 670 (6th Cir.2002) (citation omitted); Wolotsky v. Huhn, 960 F.2d 1331, 1334-35 (6th Cir.1992) (citation omitted). 1. Individual Defendants The individual defendants argue that they are entitled to qualified immuni......
  • Marie v. Cross, No. 13–4052.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 14 de novembro de 2014
    ...entwinement test. Vistein v. Am. Registry of Radiologic Technologists, 342 Fed.Appx. 113, 127 (6th Cir.2009) (citing Wolotsky v. Huhn, 960 F.2d 1331, 1335 (6th Cir.1992); Brentwood Acad. v. Tenn. Secondary Sch. Ath. Ass'n, 531 U.S. 288, 298, 121 S.Ct. 924, 148 L.Ed.2d 807 (2001)).6 To show ......
  • Romanski v. Detroit Entertainment, L.L.C., No. 04-1354.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 28 de outubro de 2005
    ...U.S. 149, 155, 98 S.Ct. 1729, 56 L.Ed.2d 185 (1978); Chapman v. Higbee Co., 319 F.3d 825, 833 (6th Cir.2003) (en banc); Wolotsky v. Huhn, 960 F.2d 1331, 1335 (6th Cir.1992). A private actor acts under color of state law when its conduct is "fairly attributable to the state." Lugar v. Edmond......
  • Communities for Equity v. Michigan High Sch. Athl., No. 1:98-CV-479.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • 21 de janeiro de 2000
    ...whether a private party is a "state actor" is whether the party's actions may be `fairly attributable to the state.'" Wolotsky v. Huhn, 960 F.2d 1331, 1335 (6th Cir.1992) citing Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937, 102 S.Ct. 2744, 73 L.Ed.2d 482 (1982). The Supreme Court has creat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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