FISHER, Circuit Judge.
This case arises out of a high school athlete's claims that the National Collegiate Athletic Association ("NCAA") and several related institutions subjected him to unlawful discrimination based on his learning disability. During the course of the proceedings, plaintiff Michael Bowers met an untimely death and his mother Kathleen Bowers has been substituted for him. As a matter of convenience, throughout this opinion the plaintiff-appellant will be referred to simply as "Bowers." In this consolidated appeal, Bowers alleges the District Court abused its discretion by entering preclusion sanctions against her based on its finding that she and her attorneys committed discovery violations in bad faith. She further argues the District Court erred when it granted the Defendants' motion for summary judgment, which relied in large part on the preclusion sanctions imposed. Attorneys for Bowers each appeal separately from the sanctions order with respect to their reputations, arguing the District Court's failure to provide them with notice and an opportunity to be heard on the issue amounted to a violation of procedural due process. Finally, the University of Iowa cross appeals from orders dismissing its motions asserting Eleventh Amendment immunity to Bowers' claims. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we will reverse the District Court on its grant of summary judgment, and, in part, on its order of preclusion sanctions against Bowers and her attorneys, and find that the University of Iowa is an arm of the state for purposes of Eleventh Amendment immunity but that Congress validly abrogated sovereign immunity under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A. Factual History
This protracted dispute, spanning nearly a decade thus far, has yielded eleven prior opinions, ten by the District Court and one by our own. See Bowers v. NCAA, 974 F.Supp. 459 (D.N.J.1997) ("Bowers I"); Bowers v. NCAA, 9 F.Supp.2d 460 (D.N.J. 1998) ("Bowers II"); Bowers v. NCAA, 118 F.Supp.2d 494 (D.N.J.2000) ("Bowers
Michael Bowers was a talented high school athlete with a learning disability. This learning disability was identified early on in his schooling as a "perceptual impairment" affecting his ability to achieve in spite of intellectual ability and interfering with his reading and writing skills.
Bowers' difficulties in the classroom contrasted sharply with his prowess on the gridiron. As a high school football player in Palmyra, New Jersey, Bowers was recognized locally and regionally for his athletic achievements.
The NCAA includes over 1,200 educational institutions grouped into different divisions determining the "scope of the athletic program, the level of competition, and the amount of financial aid distributable through its athletic program." Bowers II, 9 F.Supp.2d at 467. One of the NCAA's primary functions with respect to high school athletes is to determine whether an incoming college freshman will be academically eligible to participate in intercollegiate athletics. The NCAA has described the academic eligibility requirements as "designed to assure proper emphasis on educational objectives, to promote competitive equity among institutions
The eligibility determination depends on several factors, including whether the athlete graduated from high school, the athlete's high school grade point average ("GPA") in thirteen required "core courses," and the athlete's Scholastic Aptitude Test ("SAT") scores. The NCAA's definition of core courses specifically excludes special education classes taught below the high school's regular academic instruction level. (NCAA Bylaw 184.108.40.206). NCAA bylaws do provide, however, that special education courses for the learning disabled may satisfy the core course requirement if the student's high school principal submits a written statement to the NCAA indicating that students in such classes are expected to acquire the same knowledge, both quantitatively and qualitatively, as students in other core courses. (NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11.4). NCAA bylaws also provide for a waiver of eligibility requirements if the applicant submits objective evidence that demonstrates "circumstances in which a student's overall academic record warrants the waiver of the normal application of the requirements." (NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168). The NCAA contracts with ACT, Inc. to run the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse ("ACT/Clearinghouse"), which, as its name suggests, determines whether potential student athletes are initially eligible to participate in college sports pursuant to NCAA regulations. ACT/Clearinghouse reviews applications submitted by prospective athletes and places an athlete into one of three categories: (a) qualifier, (b) partial qualifier, or (c) nonqualifier.
On September 13, 1995, Bowers submitted his application to ACT/Clearinghouse and after a series of correspondences with Bowers' high school throughout the 1995-96 school year, ACT/Clearinghouse issued its final certification report officially determining that Bowers was a nonqualifier for two primary reasons: (1) his special education courses did not satisfy the NCAA's core course requirement; and (2) he took an untimed SAT exam, and his application lacked documentation required to accept such untimed standardized test scores. Bowers II, 9 F.Supp.2d at 469. Bowers alleges that this designation as a nonqualifier had extremely severe negative consequences. He lost the opportunity to receive an athletic scholarship, and was prohibited from practicing with or competing for any Division I or II football team his freshman year.
Bowers nonetheless enrolled as a commuter student at Temple for the Fall 1996 semester. He did not take any classes at that time, however, because he was scheduled to undergo back surgery. Bowers did begin taking classes in the Spring 1997 semester, however, and did very well, making the Dean's List with a 3.63 GPA. Despite these promising developments, by the Fall 1997 semester, Bowers' academic and personal life had apparently begun to deteriorate. His grades declined during
From the Fall of 1998 until mid-2001, Bowers was in and out of drug treatment and mental health programs and, in April 1999, was hospitalized after attempting to commit suicide. In 2002, however, Bowers showed some signs of recovery. He matriculated at American International College for the Spring 2002 semester, earned good grades, and participated in the spring football conditioning program in anticipation of joining the team for the fall semester. Sadly, any recovery efforts ended abruptly on June 2, 2002, when Bowers, home from school for the summer, died of an apparent drug overdose.
B. Procedural History
While we have already explored the prior proceedings in this case at some length in a previous appeal, 346 F.3d 402 at 408-10, we are obliged to once again carefully wade into the thicket to disentangle the issues before us. To be thorough, we review the entire proceedings; for the sake of brevity and clarity, however, we describe in detail only those aspects of the prior proceedings immediately relevant to our analysis.
On May 23, 1997, following his Spring 1997 semester at Temple, Bowers filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey alleging, inter alia, that the NCAA and ACT/Clearinghouse had violated Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12132, 12182, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794(a), in their treatment of him. After the District Court denied Bowers' motion for a preliminary injunction, Bowers I, 974 F.Supp. 459, he filed an amended complaint joining Temple, the University of Iowa, and American International College as defendants and adding state law claims under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("NJLAD"), N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 10:5-1-! 10:5-49.
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, a motion for summary judgment. The District Court dismissed the ADA claim against ACT/Clearinghouse because there was no evidence that it owned, leased, or operated a place of public accommodation, as required under Title III.
Thereafter, the parties engaged in discovery. Defendants then filed a motion
On February 2, 2001, the District Court granted the NCAA's motion for reconsideration and granted summary judgment in favor of the NCAA and American International College on Bowers' Title III ADA claim. Bowers IV, 130 F.Supp.2d 610. The Court concluded that Bowers was not entitled to injunctive relief because NCAA rules permitted partial qualifiers to gain a fourth year of eligibility.
Another matter had arisen in the case involving third-party contribution. After the District Court's November 2000 summary judgment order, Temple filed a third-party complaint seeking contribution for any monetary liability it might have to Bowers from Delaware State University ("Delaware State"), University of Massachusetts-Amherst ("UMass-Amherst"), and University of Memphis ("Memphis"), schools that also had allegedly recruited Bowers. The third-party defendants brought motions to dismiss the complaint, arguing: (1) neither Title II of the ADA nor Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act contemplate an award for contribution; (2) the universities had Eleventh Amendment immunity; and (3) Congress's purported abrogation and waiver of immunity in Title II of the ADA was unconstitutional.
Following briefing, the District Court subsequently held that: (1) Eleventh Amendment immunity barred Temple's claims for contribution against UMass-Amherst pursuant to NJLAD; (2) UMass-Amherst was not immune from contribution claims asserted under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act; (3) dismissal without prejudice was warranted with respect to claims for contribution under the NJLAD against Delaware State; (4) a stay pending Memphis's appeal from denial of sovereign immunity defenses was mandated; and (5) a certification for immediate, interlocutory appeal was warranted with respect to the Court's determination that a general right of contribution existed under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act. Bowers IX, 188 F.Supp.2d 473.
On appeal, we did not reach the Eleventh Amendment issue, but rather concluded that there was not a right to contribution under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the ADA. 346 F.3d at 433. Even more importantly, for purposes of our present appeal, we rejected the University of Iowa's argument that we had pendent appellate jurisdiction to consider its untimely appeal of the District Court's Eleventh Amendment ruling. Id. at 412. We noted, however, that we likely would have to consider the Eleventh Amendment argument eventually, but not until after a final judgment. Id. n. 8.
The District Court had stayed all matters while the case was on appeal.
The parties did not dispute that Bowers and attorneys for Bowers had failed to disclose information regarding Michael Bowers' substance abuse and his depression to Defendants until May 2004, nearly two years following his death. However, attorneys for Bowers argued that the discovery requests were narrow and they were therefore not required to seasonably amend them under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(e)(2) to disclose treatment for alcoholism or depression. The District Court rejected this argument, and determined that Bowers' failure to disclose the information in a timely fashion was a willful one, in bad faith, and that it irreparably prejudiced Temple's ability to prepare a defense to Bowers' claims. Bowers X, 2005 WL 5155198 (D.N.J. March 21, 2005).
The District Court further concluded that evidence of Michael Bowers' drug use was relevant not only to the issue of damages, but also to questions of liability. Consequently, the District Court entered a sanctions order pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 37(c)(1) and 37(b)(2)(B). This sanctions order impaired Bowers' case in critical fashion. First, it precluded her from using any previously concealed information to support her claim that Defendants were liable for Michael Bowers' drug abuse and depression. Second, they precluded her from opposing Defendants' claim that Michael Bowers' drug abuse rendered him unqualified to participate in intercollegiate athletics at all relevant times, which as a practical matter meant Defendants would be immune from liability.
The District Court then considered Temple's renewed motion for summary judgment in light of the sanctions it imposed and concluded that Bowers was not a "qualified individual with a disability" under the ADA nor "otherwise qualified" under the Rehabilitation Act because his "drug use made him ineligible to compete for Temple or any other school." Bowers X, 2005 WL 5155198, at 37-38. The Court granted the motion for joinder of the remaining Defendants and dismissed Bowers' case against all Defendants. The District Court did not reach the University of Iowa's motion for reconsideration on Eleventh Amendment grounds, dismissing the claim as moot.
Four parties filed timely appeals. Bowers filed an appeal from: (1) the March 21, 2005 Order granting defendant Temple's motion for sanctions against Bowers and Defendants' motion for summary judgment;
The District Court had jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1337, 1343, and 42 U.S.C. §§ 12133, 12188, based on the federal claims asserted by Bowers. The District Court had supplemental jurisdiction over Bowers' state-law claims, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 to hear this appeal from the final order of the District Court entering summary judgment on all claims.
A. The District Court's Grant of Summary Judgment
We begin our analysis with the issue of summary judgment because our disposition of this issue will help clarify our subsequent discussion of the preclusion sanctions ordered in this case. Our standard of review on an appeal from a grant of summary judgment is plenary, Dowling v. City of Phila., 855 F.2d 136, 141 (3d Cir. 1988), applying the same standard the District Court was required to apply. Olson v. Gen. Elec. Astrospace, 101 F.3d 947, 951 (3d Cir.1996) (citations omitted). That standard is provided by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), which directs that summary judgment may be granted only when "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." In following this directive, we must take the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Bowers, and draw all reasonable inferences in her favor. McCarthy v. Recordex Serv., Inc., 80 F.3d 842, 847 (3d Cir.1996).
The District Court's summary judgment analysis in this case was fundamentally flawed in that it failed to focus on the correct time frame with respect to Defendants' liability. We have clearly stated that the determination of whether a person was a "qualified individual with a disability" for the purposes of an ADA claim
The District Court had previously correctly identified Bowers' claims as stemming from alleged unlawful discrimination taking place in 1995-96. In its November 2000 summary judgment opinion, Bowers III, 118 F.Supp.2d 494, the District Court recognized that the case turned on whether Bowers was discriminated against in 1995-96, when Bowers was a high-school senior and then a college freshman. Id. at 499 ("Bowers has . . . sued Temple University, the University of Iowa, and American International College for discrimination on the ground that these schools stopped recruiting Bowers to play football when they concluded that his learning disability would likely result in the NCAA declaring him a non-qualifier."); id. ("Bowers alleges that the NCAA discriminated against him because of his disability in declaring him ineligible to participate in intercollegiate athletics as a college freshman.").
Situating Bowers' claims in Fall 1995-96 and taking all reasonable inferences in Bowers' favor as the nonmoving party, we find there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Bowers was a "qualified individual with a disability" or "otherwise qualified," under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act, respectively. Furthermore, Michael Bowers' drug abuse does not preclude Bowers' claims. The evidence of any substance abuse in 1995-96 is minimal. Bowers apparently tried marijuana for the first time in 1991 at age 13 but appeared to use the drug infrequently. His last reported marijuana use was in July 1998, at which point he reported he had shared a "joint" five times over the past year.
All of the substance abuse evidence cited by the District Court, with the exception of the inconclusive marijuana-use evidence, pertained to the use of those substances after 1995-96, at which point Bowers' substance abuse was irrelevant for purposes of establishing liability in this case. In addition, Defendants' argument that Bowers was unqualified at the relevant time frame as a result of his drug abuse rests on the erroneous assumption that Defendants could have used evidence of Bowers' drug abuse as an after-the-fact justification for their allegedly discriminatory conduct. It is clear that the Defendants were completely unaware of Bowers' drug abuse at the time the allegedly unlawful discrimination took place in 1995-96 as well as during the time Bowers was at Temple. Indeed, that fact is the very source of the controversy with respect to the sanctions in this case. In turn, the Defendants "could not have been motivated by knowledge [they] did not have," McKennon v. Nashville Banner Publishing Co., 513 U.S. 352, 360, 115 S.Ct. 879, 130 L.Ed.2d 852 (1995), and thus cannot now claim that Bowers was deemed a nonqualifier because of his drug abuse. See also Mardell v. Harleysville Life Ins. Co., 65 F.3d 1072 (3d Cir.1995) (applying McKennon in unlawful discrimination context and holding after-acquired evidence of misconduct is relevant to damages but does not bar liability).
Thus, taking all reasonable inferences in Bowers' favor, we find genuine issues of material fact remain as to whether Bowers was a "qualified individual with a disability" at the relevant time period for establishing liability. The Defendants are therefore not entitled to judgment as a matter of law and, accordingly, we will reverse the District Court's grant of summary judgment.
B. The District Court's Imposition of Preclusion Sanctions
Because we have concluded that the District Court's summary judgment analysis was erroneous for reasons independent of the order of sanctions in this case, we need not review the sanctions order under the standard set forth in Poulis v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 747 F.2d 863 (3d Cir.1984) (setting forth a test to determine when a trial court's dismissal of a case pursuant to preclusion sanctions constitutes an abuse of discretion).
The decision to impose sanctions for discovery violations and any determination as to what sanctions are appropriate are matters generally entrusted to the discretion of the district court. National Hockey League v. Metropolitan Hockey Club, 427 U.S. 639, 96 S.Ct. 2778, 49 L.Ed.2d 747 (1976) (per curiam). We therefore review a district court's decision to impose preclusion sanctions for abuse of discretion. Newman v. GHS Osteopathic, Inc., 60 F.3d 153, 156 (3d Cir.1995). While this standard of review is deferential, a district court abuses its discretion in imposing sanctions when it "base[s] its ruling on an erroneous view of the law or on a clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence." Cooter & Gell v. Hartmarx Corp., 496 U.S. 384, 405, 110 S.Ct. 2447, 110 L.Ed.2d 359 (1990).
The District Court found that Bowers and her attorneys had failed to fulfill their duty under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(e) to supplement responses to discovery requests throughout the course of litigation.
Bowers tried marijuana for the first time in 1991 at age 13. It is unclear from the record how often he used it thereafter, but his last reported use, as already stated, infra, was in July 1998, at which point his use of that substance appeared to be intermittent. Between September 1996 and March 1997, after hurting his back lifting weights, Bowers was prescribed at least nineteen different painkillers, including Percocet, Hydrocodone, and Tylenol with codeine, to which he would eventually become addicted. By August 1998, Bowers had begun using heroin and cocaine. Approximately two months later, in October of the same year, he first began to seek help for his substance abuse, entering an intensive two-week inpatient drug rehabilitation program at Seabrook House. Located in Bridgeton, New Jersey, Seabrook House is a prominent inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.
On August 7, 1998, Defendants served a set of interrogatories on Bowers, including Interrogatory 15, which asked Bowers to "[i]dentify all physicians or physical therapists who have treated or evaluated you from September 1, 1996 through the present date" and to "describe in detail the reason for that treatment." On October 28, 1998, in response to Interrogatory 15, Bowers identified two physicians who treated him during that time frame: Dr. Zeon Switenko (his family physician) and Dr. Benjamin Smolenski (an orthopedist). Bowers, who had just completed his two-week inpatient stay at Seabrook, did not mention that stay or indicate that any physicians treated him during his time there. Nor did he supplement his answer to Interrogatory 15 at any time throughout the course of the litigation to reference, at the very least, Drs. Gooberman and Rosenweig.
Interrogatory 19 of the August 7, 1998 interrogatories requested that Bowers, "with respect to damages . . . describe in detail each element of that relief; state all facts that provide the basis of that relief, including the amount, if any; and identify all documents relating or referring to each component of that relief, . . . and identify every individual with knowledge of the facts relating to those alleged damages or other relief." Bowers responded to Interrogatory 19 (under an objection), stating that he sought consequential damages for loss of scholarship and loss of career opportunities in the amount of $150,000.00, and compensatory damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress in the amount of $500,000.00. Additionally, Bowers stated that he could not compute punitive damages at that stage in the discovery process. Bowers did not identify any of the physicians who had treated him as "individuals with knowledge of the facts relating to those alleged damages or other relief." Defendants' First Request for Production of Documents also served on August 7, 1998, requested that Bowers produce "[a]ll documents identified in your answers to the interrogatories of all defendants in this litigation." Bowers did not produce any documents related to his treatment for substance abuse.
Bowers testified at his November 30, 1998 deposition that he became depressed
As already stated, Defendants claim that Bowers willfully failed to comply with discovery requests in violation of Rule 26(e). Important to note, however, is that the discovery requests in this case did not request information regarding Bowers' drug and alcohol addiction. Neither did Defendants make any explicit request for Bowers' medical records until March 15, 2004. Consequently, we believe there is some merit to Bowers' argument that she had no duty to turn over that information prior to an explicit request. We recognize that modern discovery rules, particularly Rules 26 and 37, were enacted to prevent civil trials in the federal courts from being "carried on in the dark." Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 500, 67 S.Ct. 385, 91 L.Ed. 451 (1947); see United States v. Procter & Gamble Co., 356 U.S. 677, 682-83, 78 S.Ct. 983, 2 L.Ed.2d 1077 (1958) ("Modern instruments of discovery . . . together with pretrial procedures make trial less a game of blind man's bluff and more a fair contest. . . ."). However, we agree with Bowers that the duty of supplementation under Rule 26(e)(2) "does not require that a party volunteer information that was not encompassed within the scope of an earlier discovery request." Polec v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 86 F.3d 498, 539 (6th Cir.1996).
However, the interrogatories do plainly request information on "all physicians or physical therapists that have treated [Michael Bowers]." The District Court was clearly correct in finding that the failure by Bowers and attorneys for Bowers to turn over information regarding his subsequent treatments with physicians for drug addiction from Fall 1998 until his death was willful and in bad faith. Bowers did not disclose any of the doctors that treated him at Seabrook, Bergen Regional Medical Center, or Zurbrugg Hospital. Nor did he disclose that he had been treated by Drs. Gooberman and Rosenweig. It is simply inconceivable that Bowers and counsel for Bowers could not have recognized their obligation to disclose treatment by these physicians given the clarity of Defendants' discovery request for the information on "all physicians."
Moreover, the disclosure of this treatment clearly would have led to discoverable information. It is virtually certain that Defendants would have learned of Bowers' drug use had he disclosed his treatment with Dr. Gooberman. Dr. Gooberman was well-known for prescribing a controversial subcutaneous "pellet treatment" program for patients suffering from severe heroin addictions. In fact, Gooberman's office letterhead states clearly that he specializes in "addiction medicine." While Bowers is correct that Defendants did not explicitly ask for medical records or information about possible drug addiction, had Bowers complied with her discovery obligations, Defendants might have
However, we find it was an abuse of discretion for the District Court to preclude Bowers from introducing any evidence of his depression. Unlike Bowers' drug problems, which would have been readily revealed had he disclosed his treatment with Dr. Gooberman, Defendants were not blind-sided by evidence that Bowers had suffered from depression. Bowers was forthright about his depression from the outset. Bowers' initial Rule 26 disclosures requested "punitive damages for the pain and suffering that [sic] the trauma of not being able to achieve his goal to play college football and the advantages that ensue therefrom. . . ." Bowers responded to Defendants' interrogatory requests that he sought consequential damages from loss of scholarship and career opportunities in the amount of $150,000.00, and compensatory damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress in the amount of $500,000.00. Temple recognized this damage claim to be based upon Bowers' depression, noting that in Bowers' Rule 26 disclosures "[p]rincipally, he claimed to have been suffering from depression." Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. for Sanctions of Def. Temple University at 3. Defendants' consolidated brief further acknowledges that Defendants were previously aware of Bowers' depression. Consol. Br. for Appellees at 14 ("Bowers limited his emotional distress claims solely to depression from not being able to play NCAA Division I football."). Defendants also recognized in their consolidated brief that they had "focused on [Bowers'] claim of depression during his January 11, 1999 deposition," and that "depression was the only emotional harm he identified under repeated questioning." Id. at 15, 18.
While Bowers' depression certainly may have become aggravated by and intertwined with his drug abuse at some point, we believe the two can be disentangled for purposes of establishing damages in this case. Indeed, Bowers' depression has been a centerpiece of his claims for damages from the inception of this case, long before the clear onset of any substance abuse problems. Consequently, we conclude the District Court's blanket preclusion of evidence related to depression reflects a "clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence in record" and was thus an abuse of discretion. Cooter & Gell, 496 U.S. at 405, 110 S.Ct. 2447. We will therefore affirm the sanctions order of the District Court only insofar as it precludes Bowers, in proving damages, from using evidence of his drug abuse and drug abuse-related depression.
The District Court's failure to focus on this period led to a clearly erroneous assessment of the relevance of Bowers' post-1995-96 drug abuse and concealment of that abuse. The Court concluded that "evidence of record thus shows that Michael Bowers' pattern of substance abuse involving painkillers, heroin and other drugs, originally hidden, precluded his participation in intercollegiate athletics at all relevant times." Bowers X, 2005 WL 5155198, at 41. However, at the relevant time for purposes of establishing Defendants' liability, 1995-96, the record is devoid of any evidence that Bowers was addicted to painkillers or had begun using cocaine and heroin. There is no evidence that this drug abuse began until after the relevant time period — after Bowers had been denied initial eligibility and after the university Defendants had stopped recruiting him.
C. Separate Appeal of Attorneys for Bowers with Respect to Sanctions Order
As a threshold matter, we must determine whether attorneys for Bowers have standing to appeal the sanctions order in this case. Standing is the "irreducible constitutional minimum" necessary to make a justiciable "case" or "controversy" under Article III, § 2. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992). The sanctions order in this case clearly granted Temple's sanctions motion against Bowers, but did not impose any additional monetary or disciplinary sanctions on Bowers' attorneys beyond factual findings and language in the actual order that the conduct of those attorneys merited sanctions. Defendants argue that because the District Court did not impose any monetary penalty directly against counsel, but rather limited the sanction to precluding plaintiff from introducing and challenging certain evidence that was withheld under Rule 37, attorneys for Bowers have not suffered a
We have previously stated that "an attorney subjected to a sanction may appeal." Bartels v. Sports Arena Employees Local 137, 838 F.2d 101, 104 (3d Cir.1988). However, a review of the case law on this question reveals some disagreement among the courts of appeals as to whether and when a court's statement in a judicial opinion amounts to a sanction "affecting an attorney's professional reputation" and thus "impos[ing] a legally sufficient injury to support appellate jurisdiction." Butler v. Biocore Med. Techs., Inc., 348 F.3d 1163, 1167-68 (10th Cir.2003). Most courts agree that mere judicial criticism is insufficient to constitute a sanction. United States v. Talao, 222 F.3d 1133, 1138 (9th Cir.2000); Williams v. United States, 156 F.3d 86, 90 (1st Cir.1998); Bolte v. Home Ins. Co., 744 F.2d 572, 573 (7th Cir.1984).
In addition, courts are in near complete agreement that an order rising to the level of a public reprimand is a sanction. See Bank of Nova Scotia v. United States, 487 U.S. 250, 263, 108 S.Ct. 2369, 101 L.Ed.2d 228 (1988) (noting ability to issue a formal reprimand of attorney for violating Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure); Talao, 222 F.3d at 1138 (equating formal finding with public reprimand and sanction); Williams, 156 F.3d at 91, 92 ("Words alone may suffice [as sanctions] if they are expressly identified as a reprimand."); Walker v. City of Mesquite, Tx., 129 F.3d 831, 832 (5th Cir.1997) (finding appealable sanction where attorneys were "reprimanded sternly and found guilty of blatant misconduct"); United States v. Horn, 29 F.3d 754, 758 n. 1 (1st Cir.1994); see also Fed. R.Civ.P. 11(c)(2) (providing, inter alia, that sanctions may consist of "directives of a nonmonetary nature"). The reason for the courts' consensus is that a public reprimand carries with it the formal censure of the court and may, in many cases, have more of an adverse effect upon an attorney than a minimal monetary sanction. See, e.g., Precision Specialty Metals, Inc. v. United States, 315 F.3d 1346, 1353 (Fed. Cir.2003). Only the Seventh Circuit has clearly held that a public reprimand not accompanied by a monetary sanction is non-appealable. Clark Equip. Co. v. Lift Parts Mfg. Co., Inc., 972 F.2d 817, 820 (7th Cir.1992) ("[W]e have already decided that an attorney may not appeal from an order that finds misconduct but does not result in monetary liability, despite the potential reputational effects.").
There is more substantial disagreement among the courts, however, as to whether a factual finding in an opinion that an attorney has engaged in improper conduct is in itself a sanction, or whether the court must enter an explicit order that the conduct is sanctionable. Compare Precision Specialty Metals, Inc., 315 F.3d at 1353 (stating fact that reprimand not explicitly contained in separate order was not determinative in whether the court has entered a formal reprimand), and Walker, 129 F.3d at 832 (factual finding of misconduct alone sufficient to constitute sanction), and Sullivan v. Comm. on Admissions and Grievances, 395 F.2d 954, 956 (D.C.Cir.1967) (same), with Weissman v. Quail Lodge, Inc., 179 F.3d 1194, 1199 (9th Cir.1999) (stating that a factual finding in an opinion that "merely serves to justify the imposition of a sanction is not an independent sanction"); Williams, 156 F.3d at 90 (same); The Baker Group, L.C. v. Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Ry. Co., 451 F.3d 484 (8th Cir.2006).
The sanctions order entered by the District Court states, in pertinent part, as follows:
Order granting Motion for Joinder, granting Motion for Sanctions & granting Motion for Summary Judgment, No. 97-2600 (March 21, 2005) (emphasis added).
In addition, on several occasions in its opinion, the District Court made findings that these attorneys wilfully failed to disclose information to Defendants in bad faith, concluding that "the actions of Plaintiff's counsel rise above a mere lack of due diligence, to the level of bad faith." Bowers X, 2005 WL 5155198, at 32.
We find the weight of authority supports a finding that the repeated, explicit public reprimand of the attorneys in this case constitutes an appealable sanction. See Young v. City of Providence, 404 F.3d 33, 38 (1st Cir.2005) (finding a sanction where the district court explicitly imposed "the sanction of public reprimand"); Precision Specialty Metals, Inc., 315 F.3d at 1352-53. In similar cases, courts have concluded that express findings that a party violated a particular rule of civil procedure constituted a sanction. See Young, 404 F.3d at 38 (finding sanction where the district court stated that attorney violated Rule 11); Precision Specialty Metals, Inc., 315 F.3d at 1352-53 (same); Butler, 348 F.3d at 1168 (explicit finding that attorney violated state ethical rule was a sanction); Talao, 222 F.3d at 1138 (same); Walker, 129 F.3d at 832 (same). The order here clearly rose above mere judicial criticism. The District Court concluded not only that the attorneys violated Rule 26(e), but also entered a public reprimand by explicitly granting the sanctions motion against Bowers' attorneys. For these reasons, we agree with attorneys for Bowers that the sanctions order in this case is an appealable order.
We also agree that the District Court violated the procedural due process rights of attorneys for Bowers in this case. "Whenever the district court imposes sanctions on an attorney, it must at a minimum, afford the attorney notice and opportunity to be heard." Weissman, 179 F.3d at 1198 (finding that the district court violated attorney's due process rights by failing to give him notice and an opportunity to be heard prior to sanctioning him); see also In re Ruffalo, 390 U.S. 544, 550, 88 S.Ct. 1222, 20 L.Ed.2d 117 (1968) (stating that attorneys subject to disciplinary proceedings are entitled to procedural due process protections, including fair notice of charges). It is clear that attorneys for Bowers had no notice whatsoever that the District Court was contemplating entering
Accordingly, we reverse the sanctions order of the District Court issued against attorneys for Bowers and remand to give the attorneys an opportunity to be heard before any further sanction is entered.
D. The University of Iowa's Eleventh Amendment Sovereign Immunity Challenge
At the outset, we must state that it is clear that the University of Iowa is not entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity as to its Rehabilitation Act claims. The University of Iowa's argument with respect to that claim has been foreclosed by our decision in Koslow v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 302 F.3d 161, 168-76 (3d Cir.2002), in which we held that a state program or activity that accepts federal funds waives its Eleventh Amendment immunity to Rehabilitation Act claims. In this case, the University of Iowa clearly "concedes it and its students receive federal funds for purposes of Section 504." Br. for Appellee/Cross Appellant University of Iowa at 6. Thus, even if the University is an arm of the state, it has waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity for Rehabilitation Act claims, and Bowers' Rehabilitation Act claim will remain. As a result, we will focus our analysis on the issue of whether the University of Iowa is an "arm of the state" of Iowa for the remaining state law claims and the Title II ADA claim.
The Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: "The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State." U.S. Const. amend. XI. Although the language of the Eleventh Amendment refers only to "States," the Supreme Court has held that the immunity extends to entities that are considered arms of the state. See Regents of the Univ. of California v. Doe, 519 U.S. 425, 429, 117 S.Ct. 900, 137 L.Ed.2d 55 (1997); Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 101, 104 S.Ct. 900, 79 L.Ed.2d 67 (1984).
A state entity is properly characterized as an arm of the state and thus "entitled to immunity from suit in a federal court under the eleventh amendment when
In the past, we have afforded some prominence to the first factor, the so-called "funding prong," i.e., whether payment comes from the state treasury. Fitchik, 873 F.2d at 659 ("Although no single Urbano factor is dispositive, the most important is whether any judgment would be paid from the state treasury.") (citing Urbano v. Bd. of Managers, 415 F.2d 247 (3d Cir.1969)). More recently, however, in Benn v. First Judicial Dist. of Pa., 426 F.3d 233 (3d Cir.2005), we held that "we can no longer ascribe primacy to the first factor," concluding that it was relegated "to the status of one factor co-equal with others in the immunity analysis." Id. at 239-40.
Whether a public university is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity is a fact-intensive review that calls for individualized determinations. Although we have held in the past that the Pennsylvania System of Higher Education was entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity, Skehan v. State System of Higher Educ., 815 F.2d 244 (3d Cir.1987), we have also held that Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, was not. Kovats v. Rutgers, The State Univ., 822 F.2d 1303, 1312 (3d Cir. 1987). With this in mind, we proceed to examine each of the Fitchik factors with respect to the particular relationship between the State of Iowa and the University of Iowa.
1. The State of Iowa is not obligated to pay a judgment against the University
The funding prong of Fitchik requires us to determine whether the payment of any judgment against the University of Iowa would come from the public treasury of the State of Iowa, i.e., whether the State
The University argues that it will be required to pay indirectly any judgment against it because the State of Iowa will be required to increase appropriations to the University to compensate for the judgment. The appropriate question to ask, however, is whether the State is obligated to pay or reimburse the University for its debts. See, e.g., Hess v. Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp., 513 U.S. 30, 51, 115 S.Ct. 394, 130 L.Ed.2d 245 (1994) ("If the expenditures of the enterprise exceed receipts, is the State in fact obligated to bear and pay the resulting indebtedness of the enterprise?"). As we recently explained in Febres in rejecting a similar indirect liability argument, if a State is not under a legal obligation to satisfy a judgment, then any increase in expenditures in the face of an adverse judgment is considered a voluntary or discretionary subsidy not entitled to Eleventh Amendment protections. Febres, 445 F.3d at 234. See also Fitchik, 873 F.2d at 661 (noting that New Jersey law provided that any increase in transit agency's state appropriation as a result of a judgment against the agency was deemed discretionary action by the State); Kovats, 822 F.2d at 1309 (stating that under state law, Rutgers retained sole discretion over its accounts and New Jersey law explicitly insulated itself from any liability on obligations running against Rutgers).
The University of Iowa argued before the District Court that Iowa Code § 8.32 demonstrates that the State of Iowa is obligated to pay for any outlay of funds necessary to pay Bowers' judgment. That section states that "[a]ll appropriations made to any department or establishment of the government as receive or collect moneys available for expenditure by them under present laws, are declared to be in addition to such repayment receipts, and such appropriations are to be available as and to the extent that such receipts are insufficient to meet the costs of administration, operation, and maintenance, or public improvements of such departments." Iowa Code § 8.32. Translating this code into plainer English, the University of Iowa has argued that § 8.32 merely reveals that state appropriations are available to meet expenditures when the receipts are insufficient. The District Court, however, determined that the code section does "not reveal an obligation on the part of the state beyond that which has already been appropriated" because the section "merely establishes that the state appropriations
Therefore, while we find the first Fitchik funding factor may tilt the scale against immunity because statutory language does not clearly obligate the State of Iowa to pay the University's debts, it is certainly not dispositive of the ultimate outcome in our analysis.
2. The University is considered an arm of the state under Iowa state law
The second Fitchik factor requires that we focus on whether the State itself considers the entity an arm of the state. Under the second factor, we look to how state law treats the entity generally; whether the entity can sue or be sued in its own right, whether the entity is separately incorporated, and whether the entity is immune from state taxation. Febres, 445 F.3d at 230.
This second factor clearly weighs in favor of immunity. The University was created under the Iowa state constitution, it is the only constitutionally created university in the State, and it has not been separately incorporated by the State.
In addition, although the University may bring suit in its own name, it may do so only through the State Attorney General's Office, which also is obligated to defend the University from suit. Iowa Code § 13.2. Furthermore, unlike New Jersey's tort claims act, which applies to New Jersey counties and municipalities as well, see Fitchik, 873 F.2d at 663, Iowa has separate tort claims acts for the State (Iowa Code ch. 699) and political subdivisions (Iowa Code ch. 670).
These facts sufficiently establish that the University of Iowa is considered an arm of the state by the State of Iowa.
3. The University's autonomy is constrained by state authority
The final Fitchik factor focuses on the degree of independence from state control an entity exercises. The Board of Regents of the University of Iowa is tightly constrained by state authority. The Board of Regents, which governs the University of Iowa and all other state universities, consists
In light of these facts, is it apparent that the University of Iowa is tightly controlled by the State of Iowa.
4. Weighing the factors
Summing up, the first Fitchik factor weighs slightly against immunity, while the second and third factors weigh heavily in favor of immunity. The District Court placed great emphasis on the funding prong in accordance with our pre-Doe jurisprudence. Under current precedent, however, we are required to consider each of the factors equally when determining whether an entity is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. Benn, 426 F.3d at 233.
In this case, we believe the overwhelming degree of state involvement in the University of Iowa warrants a finding that the University is an arm of the state. While the State of Iowa is not clearly obligated by statute to increase expenditures to the University as a result of an adverse judgment, there is a high degree of state involvement in the affairs of the Board of Regents and the University in
E. Congress validly abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Having determined that the University of Iowa is entitled to sovereign immunity, we are required to consider the applicability of that doctrine to Title II of the ADA. The United States, as intervenor, reminds us that judicial restraint requires us to "avoid reaching constitutional questions in advance of the necessity of deciding them." Lyng v. Nw. Indian Cemetery Protective Ass'n, 485 U.S. 439, 445, 108 S.Ct. 1319, 99 L.Ed.2d 534 (1988). In order to avoid the constitutional question in this case, the United States suggests we in effect prune away Bowers' Title II claim, as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provides nearly identical protection. While we do not disagree that the protections afforded by Title II and Section 504 are substantially similar, see Doe v. Cty. of Centre, 242 F.3d 437, 447 (3d Cir.2001), we do not believe that prudence in the form of constitutional avoidance warrants abrogating Bowers' right to bring a claim under Title II. As our reversal of the District Court's order of summary judgment has revived Bowers' Title II claim, we are squarely presented with the constitutional question regarding that statute's purported abrogation of sovereign immunity. Thus, prudential concerns notwithstanding, we feel obliged to enter the fray. Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U.S. 288, 347, 56 S.Ct. 466, 80 L.Ed. 688 (1936) (Brandeis, J., concurring) (passing on a constitutional question is "a necessity in the determination of [a] real, earnest, and vital controversy between individuals").
In order for Congress to validly abrogate state sovereign immunity, Congress must: (1) unequivocally express its intent to abrogate that immunity; and (2) act pursuant to a valid grant of constitutional authority. Kimel v. Fla. Bd. of Regents, 528 U.S. 62, 73, 120 S.Ct. 631, 145 L.Ed.2d 522 (2000). The first prong of this test is easily satisfied in this case, as Title II of the ADA provides that "[a] State shall not be immune under the eleventh amendment to the Constitution of the United States from an action in [a] Federal or State court of competent jurisdiction for a violation." 42 U.S.C. § 12101(b)(4); see generally Board of Trustees of Univ. of Ala. v. Garrett 531 U.S. 356, 121 S.Ct. 955, 148 L.Ed.2d 866 (2001) (finding that the above statutory provision was an unequivocal expression of Congressional intent to abrogate state sovereign immunity under Title II). Our task then in this case is to determine whether Congress exceeded its authority under § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment in purporting to abrogate state sovereign immunity under Title II of the ADA with respect to public education.
"Congress can abrogate a State's sovereign immunity when it does so pursuant to a valid exercise of power under § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to enforce the substantive guarantees of that Amendment." Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509, 518, 124 S.Ct. 1978, 158 L.Ed.2d 820 (2004). Under this "broad enforcement power," id., Congress may "enact so-called prophylactic legislation that proscribes facially constitutional conduct, in order to prevent and deter unconstitutional conduct." Nevada Dept. of Human Resources v. Hibbs, 538 U.S. 721, 727-28, 123 S.Ct. 1972, 155 L.Ed.2d 953 (2003) (concluding that the Family Medical Leave Act is a valid exercise of Congress's § 5 power to combat unconstitutional sex discrimination).
Although Congressional authority under § 5 is broad, it is not unlimited. Lane, 541 U.S. at 520, 124 S.Ct. 1978. The key limitation is that Congressional action must not work "a substantial change in the governing law." City of Boerne, 521 U.S. at 519, 117 S.Ct. 2157. In this respect, the Supreme Court has established a "congruence and proportionality" test: "Section 5 legislation is valid if it exhibits `a congruence and proportionality between the injury to be prevented or remedied and the means adopted to that end.'" Lane, 541 U.S. at 520, 124 S.Ct. 1978 (quoting City of Boerne, 521 U.S. at 520, 117 S.Ct. 2157). The Court has enacted a three-step inquiry to determine whether a particular statute satisfies the congruence and proportionality test, which requires the parties to identify: (1) with some precision the constitutional right at issue; (2) whether Congress identified a history and pattern of unconstitutional discrimination by the States against the disabled; and (3) whether the rights and remedies created by the statute are congruent and proportional to the constitutional rights it purports to enforce and the record of constitutional violations adduced by Congress. Garrett, 531 U.S. at 365, 368, 372-73.
For example, the purported abrogation of Title I of the ADA failed that test in Garrett, in which the Court held that there was not a pattern of constitutional violations with respect to public employment. Congressional findings had focused on discrimination in the private sector, and Title I's broad remedial scheme was insufficiently targeted to remedy unconstitutional discrimination in public employment. See id. at 368-374, 121 S.Ct. 955. Thus, the Court in Garrett held that the Eleventh Amendment bars suits seeking money damages for state violations of Title I of the ADA. The Court explicitly left open the question of whether similar suits could be brought for money damages under Title II of the ADA.
That question was answered, to some degree, in Lane, 541 U.S. 509, 124 S.Ct. 1978, 158 L.Ed.2d 820. Lane involved a suit by two paraplegic plaintiffs who claimed that they were denied access to the state courts by reason of their disabilities. In that case, the Court explained that Title II was enacted "against a backdrop of pervasive unequal treatment in the administration of state services and programs, including systematic deprivations
The Court then reviewed whether Title II was valid § 5 legislation with respect to the class of cases implicating the accessibility of judicial services.
Lane, however, revealed disagreement amongst members of the Court as to whether Title II may subject States to money damages for conduct that may in fact be constitutional. While the majority opinion recognizes that Congress's prophylactic powers under § 5 may proscribe some conduct that is facially constitutional to "prevent and deter unconstitutional conduct," Lane, 541 U.S. at 529, 124 S.Ct. 1978, the dissenting Justices forcefully argued that Congress's § 5 powers extend only to remedy actual constitutional violations. See id. at 547, 124 S.Ct. 1978 (Rehnquist, C.J., dissenting), 559 (Scalia, J., dissenting) ("Nothing in § 5 allows Congress to go beyond the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment to proscribe, prevent, or `remedy,' conduct that does not itself violate any provision of the Fourteenth Amendment.") (emphasis in original). But see Constantine v. The Rectors and Visitors of George Mason Univ., 411 F.3d 474, 490 (4th Cir.2005) ("[T]he question is not whether Title II exceeds the boundaries of the Fourteenth Amendment, but by how much.") (emphasis in original).
This dispute was held in abeyance in the Court's decision in United States v. Georgia, 546 U.S. 151, 126 S.Ct. 877, 163 L.Ed.2d 650 (2006). In Georgia, a disabled inmate in a state prison brought a pro se action under Title II of the ADA seeking money damages. The inmate alleged that he was confined within a small cell 23 to 24 hours per day, that he was unable to turn his wheelchair around in his cell, and that he was not afforded adequate facilities to use the toilet and shower without assistance, which often was denied. In addition, he claimed that he was denied a number of essential prison services as a result of his disability. Id. at 879. The Court examined whether Title II of the ADA validly abrogated state sovereign immunity with respect to the inmate's claims. It noted that the same conduct allegedly established the inmate's claims under both the Eighth Amendment and Title II. In
Thus, we are required to determine in the first instance if any aspect of the University's alleged conduct forms the basis for a Title II claim.
Under Georgia, we are required next to determine whether the alleged misconduct in this case, denying a student athlete eligibility to participate in intercollegiate athletics, also violates the Fourteenth Amendment. Clearly, since the Supreme Court has held that there is no fundamental right to public education, San Antonio Indep. School Dist. v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1, 35, 93 S.Ct. 1278, 36 L.Ed.2d 16 (1973), there is no fundamental right to participate in intercollegiate athletics, a component of public education. Likewise, the Supreme Court has held that the disabled are not a suspect class for purposes of an equal protection challenge. City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, 473 U.S. 432, 439, 105 S.Ct. 3249, 87 L.Ed.2d 313 (1985).
Having determined that the alleged misconduct in this case states a claim for violation of Title II but not the Fourteenth Amendment, we arrive at the final step of Georgia's tripartite test. This step requires to determine whether Congress's purported abrogation of state sovereign immunity is nevertheless valid.
We agree with the United States that "[a]s applied to education, Title II is a congruent and proportional means of preventing and remedying the unconstitutional discrimination that Congress found to exist both in education and in other areas of governmental services, many of which implicate fundamental rights." Br. for the United States at 36-37. The remedy chosen by Congress in Title II in the area of public education is a narrow one: access to education. Qualified individuals with a disability may not be excluded from participating in public education on the basis of their disability. Thus, states are free to enact a myriad of laws relating to public education, including laws that may negatively impact disabled students, so long as those laws do not discriminate against students because of their disabilities. Congress enacted Title II against the backdrop of our regrettable national history in educating students with disabilities. See infra note 35. As pointed out correctly by the United States in its brief, our national history in educating students with disabilities leaves much to be desired. In many past instances, States have made educational decisions on the basis of irrational misconceptions and stereotypes held about disabled students. See Gov'ts Br. at 27-32 (documenting various instances of exclusion and segregation of disabled students). Given this regrettable past history, Title II is a justifiable prophylactic measure to avoid the risk of unconstitutional treatment of disabled students.
Reported cases from the courts of appeals since the Supreme Court's decision in Georgia have likewise found that Congressional abrogation of sovereign immunity with respect to public education was valid. As the Fourth Circuit observed in Constantine, Congress limited the scope of Title II in several respects. First, the statute only protects "qualified individuals with a disability." Second, Title II permits States to limit participation in their programs and activities for all other lawful reasons. Third, Title II only requires States to make "reasonable modifications"
Accordingly, we join several sister circuits in holding that Congress acted within its Constitutional authority in abrogating sovereign immunity under Title II of the ADA.
We agree with the District Court that this case has become an ongoing saga. With this opinion, we have contributed yet another episode to the saga, but it has not been our intention to thicken the plot. With that in mind, we observe that a central question has yet to be resolved: whether the Defendants, in their treatment of Michael Bowers, in fact violated anti-discrimination law. Consequently, we will reverse the order of summary judgment and remand this matter to the District Court for treatment in accordance with the rulings stated herein.
Fed. R. of Civ. P. 26(e).
Williams v. United States, 156 F.3d 86, 92 (1st Cir.1998); see also Weissman v. Quail Lodge, Inc., 179 F.3d 1194 (9th Cir.1999) (stating that a disparaging comment that merely serves to justify the imposition of a sanctions order is not an independent sanction).
Disability discrimination has clearly been identified in the context of public education. As the Government documents extensively in its brief, there had been a long and sad history of discrimination against students with learning disabilities prior to the adoption of Title II of the ADA. (See Gov'ts Br. at 23-34.) See also Lane, 541 U.S. at 525 n. 12, 124 S.Ct. 1978 (citing examples of state-sanctioned public school discrimination); State ex rel. Beattie v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Antigo, 169 Wis. 231, 172 N.W. 153 (1919) (justifying the exclusion of a child with cerebral palsy from public school because he would "produc[e] a depressing and nauseating effect" on other children). In concluding that Congress was justified in enacting Title II with respect to public education, the First Circuit stated the following:
Toledo, 454 F.3d at 39 (citing Hibbs, 538 U.S. at 735, 123 S.Ct. 1972).