Last update from October 2018 What is this case about?
Docket report bringing this up to today
Haven't updated this case in awhile. Here's a short recap, plus you can click the docket picture above to see the actions between October and January 29, 2019.
The Turks were set to go to trial against Somervell County Hospital District and Ray Reynolds. In September 2018, the defendants argued that the hospital district acted as an arm of the State of Texas, thus had sovereign immunity and could not be sued. On 9/18/2018, the trail was cancelled by order of Judge Robert Pitman. On Sep 20, 2018, the case was reassigned to Judge Alan D Albright. On 10/23/2018, the final pretrial conference and jury selection and trial were cancelled by Judge Albright. On 11/9/2018, the claims of Turks against Somervell County Hospital District and Ray Reynolds were dismissed without prejudice. In December, Turks put in an "opposed motion for reconsideration and new trial". The gist of the motion was to say that hospital districts are not arms of the state and thus subject to suit, that defendants (Somervell County Hospital District and Ray Reynolds) didn't timely file a motion under Rule 12(c); also that the Plaintiffs have not "pled themselves out of court". (Read the entire opposed motion here)
Is the Hospital an arm of the state? You can read the entire argument pro and con in judge's document link at left, here's part (bolding is mine)
The last two issues to be examined are whether the Hospital has the authority to sue and be sued in its own name and whether it has the right to hold and use property. The Texas Health & Safety Code explicitly states that the "board may sue and be sued on behalf of the district." Id. at § 286.086; Laje, 665 F.2d at 724. The Hospital may also acquire property by eminent domain and takes "title to land, buildings, improvements, and equipment related to the hospital system. that are owned by the county, municipality, or other governmental entity" in which the Hospital is located. TEx. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE § 286.07 1(1), 286.080. Based on the foregoing, the Court finds that these factors weigh in favor of not finding the Hospital as an arm of the state.
After carefully applying the required factors for determining whether an entity is an arm of the state, the Court finds that the Hospital is not an arm of the state of Texas for the foregoing reasons. As a result, neither the Hospital or Mr. Reynolds in his official capacity are entitled to protection under the Eleventh Amendment; therefore, they are not immune from suit.
Conclusion of the Court
The Court's previous Order issued on November 9, 2018 is correct in its entirety except as to the finding regarding whether the Hospital is an arm of the state. Under the analysis required by the Fifth Circuit, the Court finds that the Hospital is not an arm of the state. However, Plaintiffs failed to allege the Hospital has a policy or custom that violated Plaintiffs' constitutional rights. Case 6:15-cv-00231-ADA-JCM Document 163 Filed 01/15/19 Page 9 of 10 Moreover, they have been given a fair opportunity to make their case; therefore, they are not entitled to amend their complaint to cure the pleading deficiency. Accordingly: It is ORDERED that Plaintiffs' claims as to Defendants' Somervell County Hospital District and Ray Reynolds in his Official Capacity are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. SIGNED this 15th day of January 2019.
On January 29, 2019, order to reopen the case
ORDER VACATING CLERK'S JUDGMENT AND REOPENING CASE Before the Court is the above-entitled cause of action. On January 15, 2019, the Court issued an Amended Order Regarding Defendants' Rule 12(c) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Document No. 163. The Court dismissed Defendants Somervell County and Ray Reynolds in his Official Capacity. Id. at 10. A Clerk's Judgment was filed on January 15, 2019 closing the case. Document No. 164. This was in error since Plaintiffs' claims against Ray Reynolds in his Individual Capacity still remain. Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the Clerk's Judgment is VACATED and that this case be reopened to address Plaintiffs' claims against Ray Reynolds in his Individual Capacity. SIGNED this 29th day of January 2019.