afoul of her own religious faith were she to allow (not just consent to) the injection of the drug.
Whether there was a "compelling state interest" justifying defendants' actions cannot be determined at this point either, inasmuch as there is a factual dispute as to the scope of the danger defendants assert as their reason for the injection. Defendants contend that plaintiff posed a danger not only to her own life and safety but the safety of others as well. Whether a reasonable, less intrusive alternative treatment was available (i.e., keeping plaintiff in restraints until any danger had passed) is also disputed. The parties also disagree as to the immediacy of the asserted emergency. In resolving these issues some deference must be afforded to the findings of the professionals involved, Drs. Wilson and Smith. See Youngberg v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307, 102 S. Ct. 2452, 2464, 73 L. Ed. 2d 28 (decision made by a professional is "presumptively valid"; liability imposed only when his decision is a "substantial departure from accepted professional judgment, practice or standards"), see also Rogers, 634 F.2d at 660 ("room must be left for responsible state officials to respond to exigencies that render totally impractical recourse to traditional forms of judicial process"); Rennie, 653 F.2d at 847 (noting need for expert medical and psychiatric opinion to determine questions of professional judgment).
Plaintiff's rights under the Due Process clause to refuse treatment likewise are not absolute. Rennie, 653 F.2d at 847 ("what is reviewable is whether the choice of a course of treatment strikes a proper balance between efficacy and intrusiveness"); Rogers, 634 F.2d at 654-61 (noting balancing of state police power and parens patriae interests against patient's constitutional rights). Accordingly, the factual disputes noted above concerning plaintiff's competency to decide to refuse treatment, the immediacy of the alleged emergency, the scope of the danger posed to plaintiff and others, and the availability of less restrictive alternatives render summary judgment as to plaintiff's claim under the Due Process clause improper as well.
2. Qualified Immunity
It is well established that governmental officials have qualified immunity from liability for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for discretionary acts performed in good faith. Wood v. Strickland, 420 U.S. 308, 321-22, 43 L. Ed. 2d 214, 95 S. Ct. 992 (1975). The immunity does not apply only where the official "knew or reasonably should have known that the action he took within his sphere of official responsibility would violate the constitutional rights of the [person] affected, or he took the action with the malicious intention to cause a deprivation of constitutional rights or other injury to the [person]." Id. at 322. The immunity extends to subordinate officials not entitled to the absolute immunity enjoyed by high officials such as legislators, judges, and prosecutors; those subordinate officials include prison officials and officers. Procunier v. Navarette, 434 U.S. 555, 561, 55 L. Ed. 2d 24, 98 S. Ct. 855 (1978).
The purpose of the qualified immunity is to assure decision-makers that "action taken in the good-faith fulfillment of their responsibilities and within the bounds of reason under all the circumstances will not be punished and that they need not exercise their discretion with undue timidity." Wood v. Strickland, 402 U.S. at 321. As such, the scope of the protection afforded thereby will depend upon the "scope of discretion and responsibilities of the office and all the circumstances as they reasonably appeared at the time of the action on which liability is sought to be based." Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 247, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90, 94 S. Ct. 1683 (1974).
The inquiry as to the official's good faith involves both an objective and a subjective test: "the existence of reasonable grounds for the belief formed at the time and in light of all the circumstances, coupled with good-faith belief [that the action was proper] . . . ." Id. at 247-48. "The matter is to be judged on the facts as they appeared then [at the time of the action], and not merely in the light of the event." Moyer v. Peabody, 212 U.S. 78, 85, 53 L. Ed. 410, 29 S. Ct. 235 (1909), quoted in Scheuer, 416 U.S. at 248.
These questions cannot be resolved at this stage. As they depend upon the circumstances and motivations of the acts in question, matters in dispute, they await determination by the evidence adduced at trial. Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 419 n.13, 47 L. Ed. 2d 128, 96 S. Ct. 984 (1976). Whether defendants acted with malicious intent to deprive plaintiff of her constitutional rights is a fact to be established at trial. Likewise, what constitutional rights plaintiff validly asserted is a fact question to be resolved at trial. The nature and extent of those rights will, of course, depend upon the result of the inquiry referred to in the section above: did plaintiff make a valid choice to refuse treatment? Was such a choice founded upon religious rights (which may be more difficult to override than rights arising only from the Due Process clause)? Defendants' doubt that plaintiff's refusal of treatment was based on religious rights rather than paranoia could bear on the question of their good faith. Moreover, defendants' awareness of what governmental actions may constitutionally be taken in light of these various rights (or the extent to which defendants should have been aware of such constitutional limitations) is an issue relevant to this inquiry.
The circumstances of the asserted danger on June 4, 1980 will need to be developed at trial: how immediate was the danger? Who was endangered? To what extent were various people endangered? Was defendants' judgment in accordance with accepted professional standards? Because matters of professional judgment are at issue, expert testimony will be necessary in the inquiry as to such matters. Youngberg v. Romeo, 102 S. Ct. at 2462, 2464 n.31.
3. Common-Law Claims
Because of the factual disputes already discussed herein, as noted in part I, above, plaintiff's claims for assault and battery cannot be resolved in favor of either side on a motion for summary judgment. Likewise, any assertion of immunity from damages arising from these claims on the ground that defendants acted in good faith and in accordance with accepted medical practices -- assuming that District of Columbia law recognizes such an immunity -- must depend upon the facts. See Rogers, 634 F.2d at 663 (noting that under Massachusetts law, principles of malpractice law rather than intentional tort theories such as assault and battery govern actions of doctors in state mental health facilities where doctors act in good faith). These issues remain for resolution at trial.
An order in accordance with the foregoing, denying plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and granting defendants' motion to dismiss or for summary judgment only to the extent that counts III, IV, and V of the complaint are dismissed and that the remainder of the complaint is dismissed as to defendant Dr. Smith in his individual capacity (but not as to him in his official capacity), the motion being denied in all other respects, will issue this date.
Consistent with the Memorandum Opinion entered in this action this date, it is, by the Court, this 5th day of July, 1983.
ORDERED, that plaintiff's motion for summary judgment shall be and herein is denied, and it is
FURTHER ORDERED, that defendant's motion to dismiss or for summary judgment shall be and hereby is granted in part, in that (1) counts III, IV, and V of the Amended Complaint are hereby dismissed with prejudice, (2) the Amended Complaint is dismissed as to defendant Dr. Francis Smith in his individual capacity (but not as to that defendant in his official capacity), and (3) the Amended Complaint is dismissed in its entirety as to defendant District of Columbia, and it is
FURTHER ORDERED, that in all other respects, defendant's motion to dismiss or for summary judgment shall be and hereby is denied, and it is
FURTHER ORDERED, that counsel appear for a status call, in Courtroom 18, U.S. Courthouse, on July 18, 1983, at 9:30 a.m., to set pretrial conference and trial dates.