Abraugh v. Altimus, No. 21-30205 (5th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
When authorities booked Randall as a pretrial detainee, he was medicated and intoxicated and had a history of mental health treatment. Though Randall was supposed to “be followed for alcohol withdrawal syndrome and possible delirium tremens,” he was allegedly placed in a cell without an operable source of water, not monitored, nor provided any medication or liquids. The next day, officials found him hanging from his bedsheets. He eventually died there from his injuries.
A complaint filed by Randall’s mother, Karen, under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleged that Randall was survived by his wife, Kelsey and his biological parents. Karen later amended her complaint to “substitute Plaintiff with individual heirs,” adding Kelsey, and M.A., Randall’s minor child, and to allow M.A. to appear through Morrow, her mother. The district court dismissed, holding that Karen lacked standing and adding Kelsey and M.A. could not cure the initial jurisdictional defect.
The Fifth Circuit reversed. The district court was “less than meticulous” in analyzing “standing.” While Karen lacked prudential standing because Louisiana law does not authorize her to bring this particular cause of action, she has Article III standing. She has a constitutionally cognizable interest in the life of her son, which does not depend on whether Louisiana law allows her to sue.