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Holton v. Crozer-Chester Medical Center

argued: May 5, 1977.

MARY HOLTON AND ISEANN MORSE, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED; RUTH BEGLEY,
v.
CROZER-CHESTER MEDICAL CENTER, 15TH AND UPLAND STREET, UPLAND, PENNSYLVANIA; MATERNAL AND INFANT CARE CLINIC OF CROZER-CHESTER MEDICAL CENTER, FIFTH AND PENN STREET, CHESTER, PENNSYLVANIA; DR. JAMES LOUCKS, ADMINISTRATOR AND PRESIDENT OF CROZER-CHESTER MEDICAL CENTER, 15TH AND UPLAND STREET, UPLAND, PENNSYLVANIA; DR. MARSHALL KLAVEN, DIRECTOR CROZER-CHESTER MEDICAL CENTER, 15TH AND UPLAND STREET, UPLAND, PENNSYLVANIA MARY HOLTON AND RUTH BEGLEY, APPELLANTS



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA District of Columbia, Civil No. 76-618.

Gibbons, Maris and Hunter, Circuit Judges.

Author: Hunter

HUNTER, Circuit Judge:

This case arises from a hospital policy of refusing to allow sterilization of a married woman without her husband's consent. The court below dismissed the complaint as to the hospital for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. After filing this appeal, plaintiffs moved in district court to amend their pleadings to include allegations of newly discovered evidence on state action, to support relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1343. We will vacate the judgment of dismissal and remand for the district court to consider a motion by plaintiffs to amend the pleadings.

I.

Iseann Morse and Mary Holton brought a proposed class action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, against Crozer-Chester Medical Center [CCMC], Maternal and Infant Care Clinic [MIC Clinic] of CCMC, Dr. James Loucks as administrator and president of CCMC, Dr. Marshall Klaven as director of CCMC, Pennsylvania Department of Health and its secretary, Dr. Leonard Bachman, and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and its secretary, Frank N. Beal. The suit was on behalf of all married women who seek to be sterilized at CCMC.

Iseann Morse alleged that she had first requested sterilization on February 9, 1971, after the birth of her second child, at CCMC. At the birth of her third child, on November 22, 1975, she again requested sterilization while a patient at the MIC Clinic. At that time the hospital required spousal consent for married women seeking sterilization unless they had been separated more than two years. Morse and her husband had been separated twenty-three months; sterilization was denied.

Mary Holton asked in early October, 1975, for sterilization at the time of her third delivery sometime in October. She and her husband had been separated some eight months. She was unable to locate him; sterilization was denied.

The complaint was amended to add as a plaintiff Ruth Begley. Begley, in her seventh pregnancy, wanted sterilization at the time of her delivery. She was unable to locate her husband, though, who had recently left her, and the sterilization was denied even though her treating physicians at the MIC Clinic had advised her against bearing any more children.

Plaintiffs claimed the requirement of spousal consent violates constitutional rights of personal privacy,*fn1 equal protection, due process, and the thirteenth amendment. They requested preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, damages, and a declaratory judgment.

Plaintiffs claimed relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and § 1983; jurisdiction was asserted under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and § 1343.

Plaintiff Begley moved for a temporary restraining order, since her delivery was imminent. That motion was denied on April 14, 1976.

On April 22, 1976, there was a hearing on plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction and on the motion by defendants CCMC, MIC Clinic, Dr. Loucks and Dr. Klaven to dismiss the complaint on grounds of lack of subject matter jurisdiction, lack of personal jurisdiction over MIC Clinic, and failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. On June 17, 1976, the motion for a preliminary injunction was denied; the court mentioned subject matter jurisdiction as the major obstacle to probable success on the merits.

On July 1, 1976, an order was filed in district court granting the motion of defendants CCMC, MIC Clinic, Dr. Loucks, and Dr. Klaven to dismiss. The court found the only tenable basis for jurisdiction - 28 U.S.C. § 1343 - to be fatally deficient in state action allegations necessary to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Despite recognition that the issue was very difficult, and that ...


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