Carl v. Muskegon Cnty., No. 13-2296 (6th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
While working as a home care provider, Carl experienced a psychotic break, urinating on one client’s head. Muskegon County prosecutors charged Carl with vulnerable-adult abuse. He was held at the county jail, which contracted mental health services to CMH. CMH employees examined Carl at the jail. McLaughlin, a physician’s assistant, indicated that Carl was “floridly psychotic,” that he had considered suicide, and that he required treatment in a psychiatric facility. McLaughlin had previously prescribed Carl an anti-psychotic medication but noted that it was “not very effective.” Weinert, a limited licensed psychologist, documented that Carl was “paranoid” and “require[d] intensive psychiatric treatment” and hospitalization. Dr. Jawor, a CHM independent contractor, examined Carl two days later. Carl denied feeling depressed, suicidal,or homicidal, and denied having paranoid delusions and hallucinations. Carl stated that he was “messing with” Weinert and McLaughlin. Jawor concluded that he did not meet the criteria for involuntary hospitalization. Carl sued (42 U.S.C. 1983) arguing that, due in part to Jawor’s negative certification, he did not receive mental health services he needed and that his uncontrolled psychotic state worsened, seriously harming his mental and physical health while detained. All defendants except Jawor were dismissed after signing a settlement agreement. The district court held that Jawor was not a state actor. The Sixth Circuit reversed, holding that Jawor acted under color of state law because she performed a public function by evaluating an individual in state custody.