On Remand from the Supreme Court of the United States D.C. No. CV-98-07167-TJH
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pregerson, Circuit Judge:
Before: Mary M. Schroeder, Harry Pregerson, and Stephen S. Trott, Circuit Judges.
Opinion by Judge Pregerson
This case concerns a class action by civilly committed persons ("Plaintiffs") confined at Atascadero State Hospital in Atascadero, California. Plaintiffs are confined at Atascadero State Hospital under California's Sexually Violent Predator Act. See Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 6600 et seq. The Defen- dants are administrators of the hospital and various state officials who serve in a supervisory capacity.*fn1
In 2002, Plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Complaint*fn2
in federal district court alleging that the conditions of their confinement violate their constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Second Amended Complaint, in addition to requesting declaratory and injunctive relief, also sought money damages against the Defendants in their individual capacities. Before the district court, Defendants, claiming qualified immunity, moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims for money damages. The district court denied that motion. Defendants then brought an interlocutory appeal under the collateral order doctrine, see Morley v. Walker, 175 F.3d 756, 759 (9th Cir. 1999), challenging the district court's order denying qualified immunity.
In 2007, we issued an opinion affirming in part and reversing in part the district court's order denying the Defendants qualified immunity. Hydrick v. Hunter, 500 F.3d 978, 983 (9th Cir. 2007). Specifically, we held that the Defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiffs' Ex Post Facto, Double Jeopardy, Procedural Due Process, and Eighth Amendment claims, as well as Plaintiffs' First Amendment "refusal of treatment" claim. Id. at 992, 1000. But we also held that the Defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity on the remainder of Plaintiffs' claims. Id. at 1000. Like the district court, our opinion did not rule on the merits of Plaintiffs' claims or on Plaintiffs' claims for injunctive and declaratory relief.
The Defendants then petitioned for certiorari. The Supreme Court granted the writ, vacated our judgment, and remanded for reconsideration in light of Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009). Hunter v. Hydrick, 129 S. Ct. 2431 (2009). On remand, we ordered supplemental briefing by the parties on the impact of Iqbal. After receiving several extensions, the parties completed supplemental briefing on January 31, 2011.
As discussed in more detail below, after reviewing the Supreme Court's decision in Iqbal, the parties' supplemental briefs, and our court's recent decision in Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202 (9th Cir. 2011), we now hold that Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiffs' claims for money damages. The conclusory allegations in Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint are insufficient to establish Defendants' individual liability for money damages.
Our holding, however, is limited. Qualified immunity is only an immunity from a suit for money damages, and does not provide immunity from a suit seeking declaratory or injunctive relief. See Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, Inc. v. Los Angeles County Sheriff Dept., 533 F.3d 780, 794-95 (9th Cir. 2008); Los Angeles Police Protective League v. Gates, 995 F.2d 1469, 1472 (9th Cir. 1993). ...