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Haybarger v. Lawrence County Adult Probation and Parole

December 31, 2008


On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, (D.C. No. 06-cv-00862), District Judge: Honorable Gary L. Lancaster.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hardiman, Circuit Judge.


Argued September 29, 2008

Before: FISHER, CHAGARES and HARDIMAN, Circuit Judges.


State governments and their subsidiary units are immune from suit in federal court under the Eleventh Amendment. We have held that Pennsylvania's judicial districts are arms of the state entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. Benn v. First Judicial Dist. of Pa., 426 F.3d 233, 240 (3d Cir. 2005). This immunity is not absolute, however. Under the Rehabilitation Act, States waive their immunity when they accept federal funds. In this interlocutory appeal, we must identify the proper entity to determine whether a judicial district has waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity.


Alleging violations of both federal and state antidiscrimination laws, Debra Haybarger filed suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against Lawrence County, the Lawrence County Adult Probation and Parole Department (LCAPPD), and Chief Probation Officer William Mancino. Haybarger served for sixteen years as an office manager for the LCAPPD, which is a department of the Fifty-Third Judicial District of Pennsylvania encompassing all of Lawrence County. A diabetic, Haybarger endured a lengthy hospital stay that caused her to miss work for almost the entire month of July 2004. Upon her return to work, she was told that her health problems were causing her to "slack" in her performance. On October 4, 2004, Haybarger received a formal letter of discharge.

Following her discharge, Haybarger filed a complaint seeking equitable relief as well as compensatory and punitive damages against Lawrence County, the LCAPPD, and Mancino, in both his official and individual capacities. Haybarger asserted violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et. seq., the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et. seq., Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (RA), 29 U.S.C. § 794, et. seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), 43 PA. CONS. STAT. § 951, et. seq.

Defendants filed motions to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The District Court dismissed all claims against Lawrence County and Mancino individually, finding that the LCAPPD, rather than Lawrence County, was Haybarger's true employer. The remaining Defendants claimed immunity under the Eleventh Amendment and the District Court agreed in part, dismissing Haybarger's ADA and FMLA claims because Congress did not validly abrogate the States' Eleventh Amendment immunity under the relevant provisions of those laws. See Bd. of Trs. of the Univ. of Ala. v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356 (2001); Chittister v. Dep't of Cmty. & Econ. Dev., 226 F.3d 223 (3d Cir. 2000). Additionally, the District Court dismissed Haybarger's PHRA claims because Pennsylvania has retained its immunity against those claims when they are brought in federal court. See 42 PA. CONS. STAT. § 8521(b). As for Haybarger's Rehabilitation Act claim, the District Court ordered limited discovery to discern whether Pennsylvania's Unified Judicial System (UJS) or the Fifty-Third Judicial District received federal funds during the relevant time period, which would result in a waiver of Eleventh Amendment immunity under the RA.*fn1

Discovery revealed that although the LCAPPD received no federal funds, the Domestic Relations Section (DRS) of the Fifty-Third Judicial District was receiving federal funds under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 651. These federal monies-which were earmarked specifically for child support enforcement-flowed from the federal government to Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare (DPW), which reports to the Governor of Pennsylvania. DPW then contracted with the domestic relations sections of various counties. In the case of Lawrence County, the parties to the agreement to provide Title IV-D funds were DPW and the "Domestic Relations Section (DRS) of the Court of Common Pleas and County Commissioners of Lawrence County." The agreement was signed by the County Commissioners of Lawrence County and the President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County.

Following discovery, the LCAPPD and Mancino moved for summary judgment, claiming Eleventh Amendment immunity. The District Court denied the motion, holding that the Fifty-Third Judicial District had waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity, even if only one section of the judicial district accepted federal funds. The LCAPPD and Mancino brought this interlocutory appeal and we have jurisdiction under the collateral order doctrine. 28 U.S.C. § 1291; see also P.R. Aqueduct & Sewer Auth. v. Metcalf & Eddy, Inc., 506 U.S. 139 (1993).


We review the denial of a motion for summary judgment de novo. Ye v. United States, 484 F.3d 634, 636 (3d Cir. 2007). We "apply the same test required of the district court" and view inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Groman v. Twp. of Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 633 (3d Cir. 1995). Our review of Defendants' entitlement to Eleventh Amendment immunity is plenary. Skehan v. State Sys. of Higher Educ., 815 F.2d 244, 246 (3d Cir. 1987).*fn2


The Eleventh Amendment states: "The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State." U.S. CONST. amend. XI. The Eleventh Amendment renders unconsenting States immune from suits brought in federal courts by private parties. See Edelman v. Jordan, 415 ...

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