Cotropia v. Chapman, No. 19-20688 (5th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against defendant, an investigator for the Texas Medical Board (TMB), alleging that defendant searched his medical office and seized documents without a warrant.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. The court held that defendant violated plaintiff's constitutional rights when she copied documents in plaintiff's office without any precompliance review of the administrative subpoena. However, at the time, it was not clearly established that defendant's search per Texas Occupations Code 153.007(a) and 168.052, and 22 Texas Administrative Code 179.4(a) and 195.3 was unconstitutional. Therefore, defendant's right to a precompliance review was not clearly established at the time of the search. In this case, the TMB had received a complaint that plaintiff was operating an unregistered pain management clinic (PMC); even though plaintiff's license had been revoked at the time of the search, the Board still had the power to take disciplinary action against him, to issue administrative penalties, and to seek injunctions; and thus defendant's search served an administrative purpose, even if the TMB ultimately declined to take further administrative action against plaintiff.