SIMPSON, Circuit Judge:
The appellant Fred A. Cruz, then a Texas prison inmate, sued Dr. Beto, the Director of the Texas Department of Corrections in federal district
Upon remand the district court on June 22, 1972, again dismissed the action without a hearing and without notice, by an order stating merely that "[I]t appearing that the Petitioner has been released from confinement, the questions raised are moot and the action dismissed."
Petitioner had been represented by counsel in this court and before the Supreme Court, but apparently was no longer. He responded to the district court's dismissal order by pro se "Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment and/or for Correction of Judgment or Order"; assertedly under Rules 59(a) and 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This motion urged that the proceedings were not mooted by Cruz's release from prison inasmuch as (1) the original complaint's demand for damages survived his release from confinement and (2) the complaint was filed as a class action, under Rule 23(b) (2), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and plaintiff was entitled to a hearing to determine the propriety of the class action and his right to represent the class.
Cruz pro se filed timely notice of appeal and sought leave to appeal in forma pauperis, which the lower court denied. Upon our granting such leave, Cruz's appeal was perfected and orally argued by counsel.
Cruz's original petition was filed pro se, written on toilet paper. After the action was transferred to the Southern District of Texas, counsel
Additionally, the complaint sought money damages under Sec. 1983 for plaintiff's claimed injury resulting from the deprivation of such rights.
The appellees assert that since no specific reference is made thereto by the Supreme Court's per curiam opinion, the question of money damages is no longer in the case, insisting that the remand was for consideration only of the claims for declaratory and injunctive relief. Much the same significance is attached to the Supreme Court's failure to discuss the class action aspect of the amended complaint. It follows then, we are told, that nothing remained to be litigated when Cruz was released from confinement before the Court's mandate reached the district court.
In an effort to bring as much light as possible to bear on this claim, we requested from counsel and were furnished copies of the petition for certiorari addressed to the Supreme Court in October 1971 by volunteer counsel from the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
The result of this examination is somewhat less than conclusive. The petition did not address itself in terms to the claim for pecuniary damages. On the other hand it did discuss the rights assertedly denied in terms of their being withheld from more than the single petitioner: the denial of privileges extended to inmates of other faiths; the imposition of punishment on religious grounds and for exercising religious practices; the denial of access to legal materials, and the right of access to news of the world.
We hold that the Supreme Court did not, sub silentio or otherwise, eliminate the claim of Cruz for money damages and further that it did not reject the class action aspect of the complaint. Nor are we persuaded that elimination of either claim occurred by reason
The claim for money damages for violation of appellant's civil rights was not rendered moot by Cruz's release from confinement. Simmons v. Wainwright, 5 Cir. 1972, 462 F.2d 1340, footnote 1; United States ex rel. Jones v. Rundle, 5 Cir. 1971, 453 F.2d 147; cf. Tolbert v. Bragan, 5 Cir. 1971, 451 F.2d 1020. Nor was the district court justified in rejecting this claim as he did, without a hearing, as "frivolous". See note 4, supra.
Further, determination as to whether the suit should be maintained as a class action under Rule 23, F.R. Civ.P., and Cruz's right to act for the class as fairly representative of the members thereof and able adequately to protect their interests should not have been undertaken without a hearing. See Huff v. N. D. Cass Co., 5 Cir. en banc 1973, 485 F.2d 710, where he examined the applicable standards, and held that such determination usually should be predicated on more information than the complaint itself affords. This case presents a clear example of circumstances where a preliminary evidentiary hearing should be held. Whether or not present counsel will continue to represent the class should be considered, whether or not funds are needed, and if so are available to provide individual notice to identifiable class members,
The orders appealed from, entered June 22, 1972 and July 12, 1972 are reversed and this cause is remanded for further proceedings in the district court not inconsistent herewith.
Reversed and remanded.
Insofar as he seeks actual damages, I would consider the claim frivolous."