Submitted: June 16, 2016
from United States District Court for the Western District of
Missouri - Jefferson City
SMITH, GRUENDER, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.
GRUENDER, Circuit Judge.
Carter sued employees of the Missouri Department of Mental
Health ("DMH") under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Carter
alleged that these defendants violated his Fourth, Eighth,
and Fourteenth Amendment rights by forcibly collecting his
fingerprints, a mouth swab, and a blood sample while he was
confined at Fulton Hospital as a civilly committed sexually
violent predator. The district courtdismissed Carter's
complaint for failure to state a claim. We affirm.
2002, Carter pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease
or defect to various charges related to the kidnapping and
deviate sexual assault of his sixteen-year-old neighbor. As a
result of this plea, Carter was committed to the custody of
the DMH. Carter's subsequent application for conditional
release triggered mandatory review of his eligibility for
involuntary civil commitment under Missouri's Sexually
Violent Predators Act, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 632.480-513.
Pursuant to that statute, a jury found Carter to be a
sexually violent predator, and Carter therefore remained
confined at Fulton State Hospital, a facility under the
direction of the DMH.
November 2014, Carter filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C §
1983, alleging that DMH employees working at Fulton State
Hospital had violated his rights under the Fourth, Eighth,
and Fourteenth Amendments. The complaint alleged that the
defendants and two Missouri Highway Patrol officers had
approached Carter at the hospital and informed him that they
needed his fingerprints, a blood sample, and a mouth swab.
According to the complaint, when Carter refused to cooperate
unless the officers produced a valid search warrant, the
officers ordered the defendants to restrain Carter and obtain
the samples. Carter alleged that at that point, all nine
staff members "physically assaulted and attacked"
him. He claimed that the attack resulted in a pulled tendon
on his left index finger; a bruise, sprain, and cut on his
left middle finger; and a bruise on his left arm. Carter
further alleged that the defendants failed to provide
appropriate medical treatment for these injuries.
defendants moved to dismiss Carter's complaint. They
argued that they did not violate Carter's Fourth
Amendment rights by taking Carter's fingerprints, mouth
swab, and blood sample because, as a sexually violent
predator, Carter was required to provide these materials
under Missouri law. According to section 650.055.1 of the
Missouri Revised Statutes, "[e]very individual who . . .
[h]as been determined to be a sexually violent predator...
shall have a fingerprint and blood or scientifically accepted
biological sample collected for purposes of DNA profiling
analysis." The defendants further argued that
Carter's assertion that the defendants employed excessive
force failed to state a claim under the Fourth Amendment
because Carter conceded that he resisted the efforts of the
highway patrol officers to obtain his information and because
his bare conclusion that he was "physically assaulted
and attacked" was not sufficient to withstand a motion
to dismiss. The defendants also contended that neither the
manner in which they obtained the samples nor any alleged
delay in Carter's receipt of medical treatment violated
Carter's rights under the Eighth or Fourteenth
Amendments. Finally, the defendants argued they were entitled
to qualified immunity because their alleged forcible
collection of Carter's fingerprints, mouth swab, and
blood sample represented conduct that a reasonable officer
would believe is lawful. See James ex rel. James v.
Friend, 458 F.3d 726, 730 (8th Cir. 2006).
district court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss.
The court found that the warrantless collection of
Carter's fingerprints, mouth swab, and blood sample did
not violate the Fourth Amendment because this collection
represented a reasonable, minimal intrusion and because
Carter had a reduced expectation of privacy as a civilly
committed sexually violent predator. The court also concluded
that Carter failed to plead facts showing that the manner in
which the defendants collected these materials violated
Carter's rights under the Fourth, Eighth, or Fourteenth
Amendment. Finally, the court ruled that the defendants were
entitled to qualified immunity because Carter failed to state
facts demonstrating the violation of a constitutional right
that was clearly established at the time of the alleged
violation and because the defendants' alleged conduct was
reasonable under the circumstances alleged in the complaint.
appeal, Carter argues only that the district court erred when
it dismissed his claim that the defendants' warrantless,
forcible drawing of his blood to produce a DNA profile
violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment. We review
de novo a district court's dismissal under Rule
12(b)(6), taking all facts alleged in the complaint as true.
Trooien v. Mansour, 608 F.3d 1020, 1026 (8th Cir.
2010). To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
Similarly, defendants seeking dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6)
based on an assertion of qualified immunity "must show
that they are entitled to qualified immunity on the face of
the complaint." Bradford v. Huckabee, 394 F.3d
1012, 1015 (8th Cir. 2005).
appealing the dismissal of his Fourth Amendment claim, Carter
first contends that because he was a civilly committed
individual rather than a pre-trial detainee or a prisoner,
the defendants could not collect a blood sample to produce
his DNA profile without first demonstrating individualized
suspicion of criminal wrongdoing and acquiring a search
warrant. However, we do not reach the question of whether the
alleged warrantless collection of Carter's blood sample
violated the Fourth Amendment because the defendants are
entitled to qualified immunity with respect to this claim.
See Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 240-42 (2009)
(holding that courts have the discretion to recognize an
official's entitlement to qualified immunity without
first deciding whether a constitutional violation took
immunity shields government officials from liability for
civil damages for discretionary acts that do not 'violate
clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of
which a reasonable person would have known.'"
Moore ex rel. Moore v. Briggs,381 F.3d 771, 772
(8th Cir. 2004) (quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457
U.S. 800, 818 (1982)). Here, the defendants are entitled to
qualified immunity with respect to their alleged taking of
Carter's blood sample because Carter has failed to
demonstrate that, at the time of the events in question,
civilly committed sexually violent predators maintained a
clearly established right to be free from the warrantless
drawing of a blood sample to produce a DNA profile. To the
contrary, a ...