United States District Court, D. Maine
MICHAEL A. TUCK, Plaintiff,
CITY OF GARDINER POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT
AND KENNEBEC BEHAVIORAL HEALTH'S MOTION TO
LEVY CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
suit arises from the alleged unlawful seizure and forced
hospitalization of the Plaintiff, Michael A. Tuck, in June
2015. The original complaint named multiple defendants: the
City of Gardiner Police Department and three of its officers,
the City of Gardiner Fire and Rescue Department, Central
Maine Medical Center, and Kennebec Behavioral Health
(“KBH”). KBH, noting that the complaint contains
no substantive factual allegations against it, moved to
dismiss all of the claims against it-illegal search and
seizure (Count One), false imprisonment (Count Three),
intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count Six), and
negligent release of information resulting in injury
(unnumbered Count Seven)-for failure to state a claim under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (ECF No. 11). Tuck, acknowledging that
his complaint is deficient, has moved for leave to file an
amended complaint that adds factual allegations against KBH
(ECF No. 16). KBH argues that granting Tuck leave to amend
the complaint would be futile because the supplemented
allegations still fail to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted. I conclude that Tuck's proposed amended
complaint (ECF No. 16-1) states a claim against KBH for
intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent
release of information and, therefore, grant Tuck's
motion to amend. The proposed amended complaint does not,
however, sufficiently state a claim against KBH for illegal
search and seizure or false imprisonment. I therefore dismiss
those claims against KBH.
the time has passed during which a plaintiff may amend his
complaint as a matter of course, the plaintiff may do so only
with leave of the court. Leave to amend should be freely
given “when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a). Accordingly, leave to amend is granted absent
“undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part
of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by
amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the
opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, [or]
futility.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182
(1962). Even where there is good cause to amend, a court can
exercise its discretion to deny a motion to amend if the
amendment would be futile. See Glassman v. Computervision
Corp., 90 F.3d 617, 622-23 (1st Cir. 1996). “In
assessing futility, the district court must apply the
standard which applies to motions to dismiss under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).” Adorno v. Crowley Towing
and Transp. Co., 443 F.3d 122, 126 (1st Cir. 2006).
Thus, to avoid futility, an amended pleading “must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim for relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Because Tuck is appearing pro
se, I construe his complaint liberally and may dismiss
the claims at issue “only if [he] cannot prove any set
of facts entitling him or her to relief.” Ahmed v.
Rosenblatt, 118 F.3d 886, 890 (1st Cir. 1997).
applying the above standard, I accept the following facts
taken from Tuck's proposed amended complaint as true for
the purpose of evaluating the pending motion. McKee v.
Cosby, 874 F.3d 54, 59 (1st Cir. 2017).
3, 2015, Tuck called the police about excessive traffic and
suspicious behavior in his neighborhood. An officer from the
Gardiner Police Department responded to Tuck's residence,
made a report concerning Tuck's complaint, and left.
During the next several hours, the Gardiner Police Department
reviewed Tuck's medical records, which it received from
KBH without a release or Tuck's authorization. Later that
day, three Gardiner police officers arrived at Tuck's
residence, and Tuck invited them inside thinking they were
there to follow up on his earlier complaint. Instead, the
officers informed Tuck that they had come to take him for a
mental health evaluation (to “get checked out”).
ECF No. 16-1 ¶ 16. Tuck refused, and for several minutes
argued with the officers, during which the officers ignored
Tuck's repeated requests that they leave his home.
Eventually, one officer used his taser several times on Tuck
to subdue him, during which Tuck sustained a self-inflicted
injury to his neck and throat. Tuck was then transported to
Central Maine Medical Center for treatment of his injuries.
medically cleared on June 10, Tuck was told that he had been
“blue papered” (involuntarily admitted to a
psychiatric hospital) and could not leave the hospital. In
total, Tuck was kept against his will at Central Maine
Medical Center for 21 days, during which KBH disclosed
information about Tuck's health treatment and counseling
history to Central Maine Medical Center without Tuck's
knowledge or consent. Tuck was then transferred to Riverview
Psychiatric Hospital in Augusta and held there involuntarily
for another 21 days.
proposed amended complaint asserts four claims against KBH:
illegal search and seizure (Count One), false imprisonment
(Count Three), intentional infliction of emotional distress
(Count Six), and negligent release of information resulting
in injury (Count Seven).
Illegal Search and Seizure (Count One)
claim for an illegal search and seizure is properly analyzed
as a claim made pursuant to 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983 (West
2019). See Holmes v. Meleady, 738 F.Supp.2d 196, 201
(D. Mass. 2010). “To make out a viable section 1983
claim, a plaintiff must show both that the conduct complained
of transpired under color of state law and that a deprivation
of federally secured rights ensued.” Santiago v.
Puerto Rico, 655 F.3d 61, 68 (1st Cir. 2011). If the
plaintiff fails to allege facts sufficient to establish that
the defendant acted under color of state law, the § 1983
claim is subject to dismissal.
are no allegations in the proposed amended complaint that
indicate that KBH is a state actor and is not, as KBH
asserts, a private, not-for-profit corporation. ECF No. 18 at
3. There are three tests to determine whether a private party
can be characterized as a state actor: (1) the state
compulsion test, (2) the nexus/joint action test, and (3) the
public function test. Estades-Negroni v. CPC Hosp. San
Juan Capestrano, 412 F.3d 1, 4-5 (1st Cir. 2005)
(affirming dismissal of § 1983 claims against private
healthcare providers that participated in plaintiff's
involuntary mental health commitment because the alleged
facts did not establish that they were state actors).
allegations in the proposed amended complaint concerning
KBH's involvement in Tuck's hospitalization lack
detail and do not support any of the three tests. There are
no facts suggesting (1) that the State “exercised
coercive power” over KBH, or that it “has
provided such significant encouragement, either overt or
covert, that [KBH's conduct] must in law be deemed to be
that of the State, ” Blum v. Yaretsky, 457
U.S. 991, 1004 (1982); (2) that the State “so far
insinuated itself into a position of interdependence with
[KBH] that it [should be considered] a joint participant
in” KBH's actions, Estades-Negroni, 412
F.3d at 6 (quoting Bass v. Parkwood Hosp., 180 F.3d
234, 242 (5th Cir. 1999)); or (3) that KBH performed a public
function that was “traditionally the exclusive