United States District Court, D. New Mexico
JIM CAMPBELL and JENNIFER CAMPBELL, as the next friends and parents of MASON CAMPBELL, a child, Plaintiffs,
BRIAN BLALOCK, [*] MONIQUE JACOBSON, and NEW MEXICO CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILIES DEPARTMENT, an Agency/Department of the State of New Mexico, Defendants.
Mitchell, Mitchell Law Office, Ruidoso, New Mexico, for
Evans, Carla Neusch Williams, Quincy J. Perales, and K. Renee
Gantert, Atwood Malone Turner & Sabin P.A., Roswell, New
Mexico, for Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS'
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Kelly, Jr. United States Circuit Judge.
MATTER is before the court on Defendants Brian Blalock,
Monique Jacobson, and New Mexico Children, Youth &
Families Department's (CYFD) Corrected Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 44). Upon consideration thereof, the court
finds that Defendants' motion for summary judgment is
well taken and should be granted.
civil rights action removed to federal court, Plaintiffs Jim
and Jennifer Campbell, the parents of minor Mason Campbell,
seek compensatory and punitive damages arising from the
CYFD's alleged violations of Mason's constitutional
and statutory rights.
January 14, 2014, Mason entered the gym at Berrendo Middle
School in Roswell, New Mexico. Pretrial Order at 28 (ECF No.
65). Using a modified, pump-action shotgun, he opened fire
into a crowd of students waiting for school to begin.
Id. He injured three people, two seriously.
Id. Mason later pled no contest to three counts of
aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and one count of
unlawfully carrying a deadly weapon on school premises.
2, 2014, a state children's court judge ordered that
Mason be placed in the custody of CYFD until he reached the
age of 21, with the possibility of earlier discharge.
Id. The judge ordered that CYFD “shall
determine the appropriate placement, supervision and
rehabilitation program for [Mason].” Id. The
judge also recommended a course of psychological treatment
and rehabilitation. Id. Now 18 years old, Mason has
been in CYFD custody since age 13. Compl. at 2, 7 (ECF No.
Campbells sued CYFD and its then-cabinet secretary, Monique
Jacobson, alleging the agency had been deficient in its
treatment of Mason during his time in state custody. See
generally Compl. First, they alleged Mason's
conditions of confinement violated the Eighth Amendment's
prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment and the
Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of substantive due
process. Pls.' Resp. in Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for
Summ. J. at 21-22 (ECF No. 57). This claim includes
CYFD's alleged failure: (1) to provide Mason with
psychiatric care recommended by the sentencing judge and
Mason's doctors; (2) to timely provide Mason with
appropriate medical care (including eye exams, prescription
eyeglasses, treatment for his scoliosis, and treatment for
his heart condition); (3) to provide Mason with various
educational opportunities; (4) to provide Mason with
sufficient opportunities to make personal phone calls to his
parents; (5) to provide Mason with a mattress appropriate for
his scoliosis, aggravating chronic back pain, or to allow him
to attend physical therapy; and (6) to provide Mason with
adequate food (he consumes only a gluten-free diet). Compl.
at 9-16. Second, they claim that CYFD violated Mason's
equal protection and procedural due process rights under the
Fourteenth Amendment by refusing to release him from custody
for political reasons when a similarly situated minor would
have been released. Id. at 13-15. Finally, they
claim that CYFD failed to comply, out of negligence or gross
negligence, with multiple statutory duties imposed on it by
New Mexico state law. Id. at 2-7, 15-17. Their
complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
Id. at 17-18. The pretrial order indicates that they
also seek attorneys' fees. Pretrial Order at 3.
case was removed to this court on December 11, 2017. Notice
of Removal (ECF No. 1). Defendant Monique Jacobson filed a
Motion to Dismiss on December 18, 2017. Mot. to Dismiss (ECF
No. 6). Defendants collectively filed a Corrected Motion for
Summary Judgment on December 21, 2018. Defs.' Mot. for
Summ. J. (ECF No. 44).
Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The court
views the factual record and reasonable inferences that may
be drawn from it in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. See Birch v. Polaris Indus., Inc., 812 F.3d
1238, 1251 (10th Cir. 2015).
Claims Against CYFD Cabinet Secretary
sued Ms. Jacobson under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides
a cause of action where a state official has violated a
plaintiff's federal rights while acting under color of
state law. The legal analysis for a § 1983 suit requires
consideration of how the plaintiff has chosen to sue the
state officer: Was the state official sued in her
“personal capacity” (also known as her
“individual capacity”), or was she sued in her
“official capacity, ” or both? In this case, the
complaint and briefing are not clear on this
issue. Accordingly, given the lack of clarity and