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Smith v. Hood

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

August 10, 2018

RALPH ARNOLD SMITH, JR., Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
JAMES M. HOOD, III, In his individual capacity; ALBERT LEE ABRAHAM, JR., Individually; CYNTHIA T. EUBANK, In her individual capacity; STANLEY ALEXANDER, In his individual capacity; ONETTA WHITLEY, In her individual capacity; RALPH E. CHAPMAN, Individually; H. SCOTT SPRAGINS, Individually; MEDICAL DOCTOR REB MCMICHAEL, In his individual capacity; LUKE SAVOIE, In his individual capacity; MEDICAL DOCTOR PAUL SCOTT MCGINNIS, In his individual capacity; JAMES G. CHASTAIN, In his individual capacity; THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH; JOHN DOES 1-20, Whose names and identities are unknown at this time; LAWRENCE JOHN TUCKER, JR., Individually, also known as Lucky, Defendants - Appellees

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi

          Before KING, DENNIS, and COSTA, Circuit Judges.

          JAMES L. DENNIS, Circuit Judge

         Ralph Arnold Smith brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act against various defendants for their conduct related to his involuntary civil commitment. The district court dismissed his claims in their entirety. He appeals. We AFFIRM in part and VACATE and REMAND in part.

         I

         In April 2012, Ralph Arnold Smith allegedly hired two people-Keaira Byrd and Derrick Lacy-to murder Lee Abraham, the attorney who had represented his ex-wife during their divorce proceedings. See generally Smith v. Chastain, No. 3:14-v-334-WHB-RHW, 2015 WL 1206918, at *2 (S.D.Miss. Mar. 17, 2015). Upon their arrival at Abraham's office, the two would-be assassins were shot by agents from the Mississippi Attorney General's Office. Byrd was killed; Lacy was apprehended and led investigators to Smith. Smith was arrested, and a grand jury returned two indictments against him, charging him, inter alia, with capital murder for Byrd's death and conspiracy to murder Abraham.

         Smith asserted that he was suffering from a "major mental disease" that rendered him incompetent to stand trial. The Leflore County Chancery Court ordered an initial evaluation of Smith's competency, and he was admitted to the forensic unit at the Mississippi State Hospital for evaluation. After holding multiple hearings on Smith's competency, the Chancery Court ordered the State to initiate involuntary civil commitment proceedings. The Chancery Court held two commitment hearings in December 2014 and January 2015 at which five doctors testified. Finding that Smith was suffering from a psychotic mental disorder, the Chancery Court ordered that he be involuntarily civilly committed as an inpatient to the State Hospital.[1]

          Smith brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and American with Disabilities Act (ADA) suit against the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH), State Hospital doctors and personnel, state prosecutors, and four private attorneys (including Lee Abraham, the man he allegedly conspired to murder). All defendants except DMH were named in their individual capacities only. Smith sought damages against these defendants under § 1983; Title II of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq.; and Mississippi state law.[2] His claims were based in significant part on various allegations that defendants conspired to unlawfully civilly commit him against his will.

         Defendants filed motions to dismiss all of Smith's claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), asserting that his claims were barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), and state sovereign, prosecutorial, and witness immunity.[3] The district court dismissed all of Smith's federal claims under Heck and state sovereign immunity and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his state law claims. Smith timely appeals.[4]

          II

         This court reviews the district court's dismissal of Smith's claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) de novo. See, e.g., In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007); Hebert v. United States, 53 F.3d 720, 722 (5th Cir. 1995). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead sufficient facts to state a plausible claim for relief. Johnson v. Teva Pharm. USA, Inc., 785 F.3d 605, 610 (5th Cir. 2014).[5]

         III

         The district court dismissed Smith's ADA claims against DMH as barred by the Eleventh Amendment.[6] Though the district court did not explicitly engage with the framework established in United States v. Georgia, 546 U.S. 151 (2006), we agree with its conclusion. To determine whether the ADA validly abrogates state sovereign immunity for claims brought under Title II, a court asks:

(1) which aspects of the State's alleged conduct violated Title II; (2) to what extent such misconduct also violated the Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) insofar as such conduct violated Title II but did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment, whether Congress's purported ...

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