United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
John Doe, et al.
Jeffrey A. Meyers, Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department Of Health and Human Services, et al.
A. DICLERICO, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiffs have filed a putative class action that challenges
practices used by New Hampshire hospitals and the Department
of Health and Human Services to involuntarily detain
individuals who experience mental health crises and seek
treatment in hospital emergency rooms. In the amended
complaint, the plaintiffs bring claims for violation of their
procedural due process rights under the federal and New
Hampshire constitutions, a claim of violation of RSA
135-C:31, I, and state law claims for false imprisonment.
David D. King, Administrative Judge of the New Hampshire
Circuit Court, is named in his official capacity as a
“necessary party” under Federal Rule of Civil
King moves to dismiss the action against him. The plaintiffs
object to the motion to dismiss.
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) challenges the plaintiffs' complaint on the
ground that they fail “to state a claim on which relief
can be granted.” To decide the motion, the court
accepts as true all of the properly pleaded facts and draws
reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.
Lemelson v. Bloomberg L.P., 903 F.3d 19, 23 (1st
Cir. 2018). The plaintiffs must allege facts that allow the
court “to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
alleged in the amended complaint, “[t]his case is about
the State's systemic failure to provide probable cause
hearings to patients being involuntarily detained and boarded
in hospital emergency rooms within three days of the
patient's admission to the hospital.” Doc. no. 78,
at *2. In addition, the case is about “how New
Hampshire hospitals systemically and unlawfully continue to
detain these patients after the three-day deadline has come
and gone for these probable cause hearings.”
Id. The named plaintiffs provide information about
each of their detentions.
respect to Judge King, the plaintiffs allege that
“[t]he New Hampshire Circuit administers the very
probable cause hearings that are directly at issue in this
case, including their location, when they are conducted, and
how they are conducted.” Doc. no. 78, ¶ 94. The
plaintiffs allege that the court administers probable cause
hearings after a detained individual is transferred to a
receiving facility, which is when the court becomes aware of
the detention. The plaintiffs contend that the court's
“failure to timely conduct these hearings violates the
protections of due process and RSA 135-C:31, both of which at
least require a hearing to be held within three days of when
the IEA certificate is completed while the patient is in an
emergency room.” Id. The plaintiffs assert
that Judge King is a necessary party in this case “so
this Court can ensure that any remedy it imposes concerning
probable cause hearings is administratively and logistically
effectuated.” Id., ¶ 96. The plaintiffs
name Judge King, as “a party pursuant to Rule
19(a)” in three claims: Count I - claim under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for violation of Fourteen Amendment procedural
due process rights; Count II - violation of procedural due
process under the New Hampshire Constitution, Part I, Article
15; and Count III - violation of RSA 135-C:31, I.
King moves to dismiss the action against him. In support, he
states that he has not been served and service cannot be made
on him, that the Eleventh Amendment precludes the suit, that
this court cannot grant the requested relief, and that he is
not a necessary party. In response, the plaintiffs ignore the
service issue, and argue that Judge King is a necessary party
who is not affected by immunity under the Eleventh Amendment.
alleged in the amended complaint, Judge King is sued in his
“official administrative capacity.” In contrast
to personal capacity suits, which seek to impose liability on
a government official for actions taken under color of state
law, claims against parties in their official capacities
“‘generally represent only another way of
pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is
an agent.'” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S.
159, 165-66 (2985) (quoting Monell v. N.Y. City Dept. of
Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690, N.55 (1978)).
Therefore, it appears that although Judge King is named, the
suit is brought against the New Hampshire Circuit Court.
Service of Process
King, on behalf of the Circuit Court, states that he has not
been served and that the suit should be dismissed as to him
for that reason. The plaintiffs represent that after the
motion to dismiss was filed, they sent Judge King a waiver of
service, which ...