Sad Title II Case
Yesterday, the First Circuit issued its opinion in Buchanan v. Maine. The case involves a sad state of facts. Michael Buchanan, an individual with a psychiatric disability, "was shot to death inside his isolated Maine home when he repeatedly stabbed one of two deputy sheriffs who had gone to check on Buchanan's safety and welfare." His brother, on behalf of his estate, filed suit against the deputies and their county under Section 1983, and he sued the county and the state for violating Title II of the ADA. The basic theory of the ADA violation was that the state and the county had failed to provide appropriate mental health treatment for Buchanan, who was living in the community. The state argued that the Eleventh Amendment barred the suit against it, but the First Circuit refused to decide that question. Following the approach mandated in United States v. Georgia, the court held that it must first decide which, if any, of the plaintiff's claims actually made out a violation of the ADA, before deciding whether Congress validly abrogated the state's sovereign immunity against those claims. And the court held that the plaintiff had not made out a claim of a Title II violation.