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Civil Rights – State Action – Foster Care Parents

Deborah Elkins//August 26, 2010

Civil Rights – State Action – Foster Care Parents

Deborah Elkins//August 26, 2010

A mentally disabled woman who alleges a defendant social services case manager failed to protect her from sexually abusive foster parents cannot prevail on a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 individual claim against the case manager, who is entitled to qualified immunity, says a Big Stone Gap U.S. District Court.

The case manager, sued individually, is entitled to qualified immunity because the constitutional right alleged to have been violated was not clearly established in this circuit at the time of the events alleged in this case. While plaintiff seeks to distinguish the facts in Doe v. S.C. Dep’t of Social Servs., from those in this case, claiming the conduct here was more egregious, I find the principles to be the same and that precedent controlling.

Plaintiff Doe’s federal claims against the commonwealth and the county social services department must also be dismissed because these defendants are not “persons” for the purpose of seeking damages under § 1983. And they are immune from a damage suit in federal court by virtue of the 11th Amendment.

I must grant the motions to dismiss as to all the federal constitutional claims asserted by plaintiff. The parties agreed at oral argument they would prefer the state court resolve the remaining state law claims. I will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff’s state law claims and the action will be remanded to state court for determination of those claims.

Doe v. Mullins (Jones, J.) No. 2:10cv00017, July 22, 2010; USDC at Big Stone Gap, Va.; Gary Gilliam for plaintiff; Adam G. Swann, Mary H. Hawkins, AAG, for defendants. VLW 010-3-362, 5 pp.

VLW 010-3-362

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