State Agency Defendants
The plaintiffs do not contend that the Department of Public Welfare and Haverford State Hospital are "persons" within the Civil Rights Acts.
However, plaintiffs urge that jurisdiction is properly obtained through application of 42 U.S.C. § 1988.
Section 1988 provides for the adoption of state law in civil rights cases when laws of the United States are not suitable for the vindication of civil rights in so far as such laws are not inconsistent with the constitution and laws of the United States. Plaintiffs suggest these non-person defendants may be liable to the plaintiffs on the ground of quantum meruit under state law and that, in addition, jurisdiction over these two "non-person" defendants may be necessary to effectuate jurisdiction over the "person" defendants.
The recent decision in Moor v. County of Alameda, 411 U.S. 693, 93 S. Ct. 1785, 36 L. Ed. 2d 596 (1973) authoritatively forecloses the plaintiffs' contention. In Moor, the plaintiffs, in a damage action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
against police officers, presented the same critical argument made in this case that personal liability of the individual defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is, as a practical matter, inadequate because public officers are frequently judgment proof; thus, it was argued, it is appropriate to adopt state law and so with this state law under 42 U.S.C. § 1988, there is jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1343(4) since section 1988 is an Act of Congress.
In Moor, the Court held that Congress did not intend through 42 U.S.C. § 1988, to authorize federal courts to adopt, into federal law, entire causes of action from state law. Also, the Court held that 42 U.S.C. § 1988 is not an independent Act of Congress, providing for the protection of civil rights, within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1343(4) but only supplements the various acts which do create federal causes of action for the violation of federal civil rights. Finally, the Court held that the approach requested would conflict with 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as interpreted by Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167, 188-193, 81 S. Ct. 473, 484-486, 5 L. Ed. 2d 492 (1961), which holds that counties are not persons within the meaning of section 1983. All of these holdings are applicable to the plaintiffs' request, based on 42 U.S.C. § 1988, in this case including the conflict with 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Any argument that state instrumentalities are persons within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for purposes of equitable relief is foreclosed by City of Kenosha, Wisconsin v. Bruno, 412 U.S. 507, 93 S. Ct. 2222, 37 L. Ed. 2d 109 (1973).
Thus, plaintiffs' argument that this Court has jurisdiction over these state agency defendants under 28 U.S.C. § 1343(4), after adopting state law under 42 U.S.C. § 1988, is controlled by Moor and jurisdiction must be denied.
Finally, in an attempt to obtain jurisdiction over these state instrumentalities, the plaintiffs base their claims for relief on the Constitution, itself, and assert jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343(3). Despite the fact that the Supreme Court has held that the doctrine of Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 10 S. Ct. 504, 33 L. Ed. 842 (1889), prohibiting a citizen of a state from suing his own state in federal court without its consent, is of constitutional dimension, Employees of Department of Public Health and Welfare, State of Missouri v. Department of Public Health and Welfare, State of Missouri, 411 U.S. 279, 93 S. Ct. 1614, 36 L. Ed. 2d 251 (1973), plaintiffs argue that the Thirteenth Amendment is a self-executing declaration of the end of involuntary servitude and that the states cannot use their constitutional immunity from suit in federal court as a cloak for a system of involuntary servitude.
We do not disagree with the proposition that the Thirteenth Amendment is an absolute declaration that involuntary servitude shall not exist in any part of the United States. Jones v. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409, 438, 88 S. Ct. 2186, 2202, 20 L. Ed. 2d 1189 (1968); Clyatt v. United States, 197 U.S. 207, 216-217, 25 S. Ct. 429, 430, 49 L. Ed. 726 (1905); Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3, 20, 3 S. Ct. 18, 28, 27 L. Ed. 835 (1883). This, of course, does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the constitutional doctrine here depriving plaintiffs of federal jurisdiction is affected. Notwithstanding the relief afforded through the doctrine of Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 28 S. Ct. 441, 52 L. Ed. 714 (1908), the plaintiffs have not attempted to demonstrate to the Court that they are without a state forum in which to press their federal constitutional claims against the state. Consequently, this Court is unable to say that the Eleventh Amendment is acting as a "cloak" for an alleged system of involuntary servitude imposed by the state.
The argument that the state is divested of its constitutional immunity from suit in federal court on the sole ground that the plaintiffs' claims arise under the Constitution is contrary to authority. See, e.g., Parden v. Terminal Ry. of Ala. State Docks Dept., 377 U.S. 184, 187, 84 S. Ct. 1207, 1209-1210, 12 L. Ed. 2d 233 (1964); McAllister v. State of New Jersey, 396 F.2d 776, 777 (3 Cir. 1968).
Thus, the plaintiffs' assertion of this Court's jurisdiction over the state instrumentalities, based on the self-executing nature of the Thirteenth Amendment and the fact that their claims arise under the constitution, and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343(3), must be denied.
The Individual Defendants
The defendants argue that the individual defendants are being sued in their official capacities and that suit against them is, in effect, a suit against the Commonwealth which is barred by the Eleventh Amendment since the state has not consented to suit.
The landmark case establishing that the Eleventh Amendment does not preclude a suit in federal court to seek relief from the deprivation of constitutional rights by state officials is Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 28 S. Ct. 441, 52 L. Ed. 714 (1908). It has been established since that decision that unconstitutional actions by state officials may be enjoined and an action against individual officers, seeking injunctive relief, is not a suit against the state. Where the action and/or the statute under which the action is taken are unconstitutional, the individual officer is, for jurisdictional purposes, stripped of his representative character and thus has no jurisdictional immunity. The rationale of Ex parte Young also allows for damages against state officials in their personal capacity. Larson v. Domestic & Foreign Commerce Corporation, 337 U.S. 682, 687-690, 69 S. Ct. 1457, 1460-1462, 93 L. Ed. 1628 (1949).
Defendants contend that the Court lacks jurisdiction to enter an award of damages against the individual defendants, relying upon Rothstein v. Wyman, 467 F.2d 226 (2 Cir. 1972). In Rothstein, the district court found the geographic differences in disbursements of state welfare aid programs to be in conflict with the Social Security Act. The Circuit Court only had before it a challenge to that part of the district court remedy directing retroactive state payment of public assistance benefits and held that federal jurisdiction to grant such relief is foreclosed by the Eleventh Amendment.
We agree that a judgment for damages that would, itself, bind the state is foreclosed by the Eleventh Amendment; however, it is also clear that the Eleventh Amendment does not bar an award of damages against a state official in his personal capacity. See, Ford Motor Co. v. Department of Treasury of Indiana, 323 U.S. 459, 65 S. Ct. 347, 89 L. Ed. 389 (1945); Great Northern Insurance Co. v. Read, 322 U.S. 47, 64 S. Ct. 873, 88 L. Ed. 1121 (1944); Smith v. Reeves, 178 U.S. 436, 20 S. Ct. 919, 44 L. Ed. 1140 (1900); Sostre v. McGinnis, 442 F.2d 178 (2 Cir. 1971), cert. den. sub nom. Sostre v. Oswald, 404 U.S. 1049, 92 S. Ct. 719, 30 L. Ed. 2d 740 (1972); Westberry v. Fisher, 309 F. Supp. 12 (D. Maine, 1970). The fact that the damages requested by the plaintiffs, if so-entitled, may be substantial, does not change the fact that any judgment entered would not by its own force, bind the state.
The Rothstein decision actually deals with the constitutionality of equitable relief ordering state officials to pay over state funds to the plaintiffs or the class they represent. Whether such relief is within the constitutional policy of Ex parte Young is not free from doubt. Compare, Jordan v. Weaver, 472 F.2d 985 (7 Cir. 1973), cert. grtd. Edelman v. Jordan, 412 U.S. 937, 93 S. Ct. 2776, 37 L. Ed. 2d 396 (1973), with, Dawkins v. Craig, 483 F.2d 1191 (4 Cir. 1973). However, this Court is not presented with such an explicit request at this point in the litigation and, accordingly, expresses no opinion on that issue.
Having determined that the plaintiffs have not set forth a basis for jurisdiction over the state agency defendants but have set forth a basis for jurisdiction over the individual defendants, both for damages and equitable relief, we turn to the defendants' other grounds for dismissal of the action.
FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM
The defendants' sole contentions in this regard are that the complaint does not allege that the plaintiffs were forced to work and that the complaint admits that the work is therapeutic. Although reference to the allegations set out at length earlier in this memorandum, answers those contentions, there are more difficult issues.
This circuit maintains the rule that complaints in civil rights actions must be specifically pled or are subject to dismissal. Kauffman v. Moss, 420 F.2d 1270, 1275-1276 (3rd Cir. 1970), cert. den. 400 U.S. 846, 91 S. Ct. 93, 27 L. Ed. 2d 84 (1970); Rodes v. Municipal Authority of the Borough of Milford, 409 F.2d 16, 17 (3 Cir. 1969), cert. den. 396 U.S. 861, 90 S. Ct. 133, 24 L. Ed. 2d 114 (1969); Negrich v. Hohn, 379 F.2d 213, 215 (3 Cir. 1967). The rationale for this requirement is set out in Valley v. Maule, 297 F. Supp. 958, 960-961 (D. Conn. 1968) where the Court said:
"As a general rule notice pleading is sufficient, but an exception has been created for cases brought under the Civil Rights Acts. The reason for this exception is clear. In recent years there has been an increasingly large volume of cases brought under the Civil Rights Acts. A substantial number of these cases are frivolous or should be litigated in the State courts; they all cause defendants -- public officials, policemen and citizens alike -- considerable expense, vexation and perhaps unfounded notoriety. It is an important public policy to weed out the frivolous and insubstantial cases at any early stage in the litigation, and still keep the doors of the federal courts open to legitimate claims."
This requirement operates against complaints that contain mere broad, conclusory allegations of deprivation of constitutional rights without setting forth factually the alleged misconduct and resultant harm sufficiently to permit the Court to make an informed judgment as to whether the wrong complained of is of federal cognizance. Negrich v. Hohn, supra; Rodes v. Municipal Authority of the Borough of Milford, supra; Kauffman v. Moss, supra. However, this policy is not to be pursued to the complete exclusion of other policies such as liberally reading complaints and that litigation, where possible, should be decided on the merits. Kauffman v. Moss, supra.
The plaintiffs' conspiracy count, under 42 U.S.C. § 1985,
must be dismissed under this requirement for there is no allegation of a conspiracy to deprive plaintiffs of the equal protection of the laws. Griffin v. Breckenridge, 403 U.S. 88, 102-103, 91 S. Ct. 1790, 1798, 29 L. Ed. 2d 338 (1971).
In order to prevail on the claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiffs must prove the defendants caused the alleged constitutional deprivations while acting under color of state law. Kletschka v. Driver, 411 F.2d 436, 447 (2 Cir. 1969); Jones v. Hopper, 410 F.2d 1323, 1326 (10 Cir. 1969), cert. den., 397 U.S. 991, 90 S. Ct. 1111, 25 L. Ed. 2d 399 (1970); Basista v. Weir, 340 F.2d 74, 79 (3 Cir. 1965).
The complaint generously provides specifics on the amount and types of work performed by the named plaintiffs and state mental patients generally. Moreover, there is no absence of the allegation that this labor was forced. However, there is, generally, a paucity of facts pled relating to the force or coercion imposed upon the plaintiffs. Nevertheless, there are claims of psychological pressure and more direct punitive measures to induce labor and, at least as to two of the named plaintiffs such clearly coercive conduct is specifically alleged. Thus, sufficient facts have been pled in the complaint so as to allow the Court to determine that the action here is not clearly frivolous. No purpose is served by isolating on a particular plaintiff at this point. The allegations as to the proposed class and as to at least certain of the named plaintiffs are sufficiently factually specific to reveal a substantial claim of constitutional violation.
However, it is clear that personal involvement is a necessary element of a § 1983 action and that a superior official is not held liable for the acts of his subordinates merely on the basis of that relationship.
"[A] civil rights complaint must portray specific conduct by state officials which violates some constitutional right of the complainant in order to state a claim for relief." ( Gittlemacker v. Prasse, 428 F.2d 1, 3 (3 Cir. 1970).