United States District Court, W.D. Texas
SHANNON PEREZ, ET AL.
GREG ABBOTT, ET AL.
ORDER ON THE NAACP PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO
SUBSTITUTE PLAINTIFF INTERVENOR
RODRIGUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
date, the Court considered the NAACP's Motion to
Substitute Plaintiff-Intervenor (Docket no. 1348), the
State's Response (Docket no. 1350), and the NAACP's
reply (Docket no. 1355). After careful consideration, the
motion is DENIED.
Juanita Wallace (“Dr. Wallace”) was a resident of
Dallas County who brought claims as one of the NAACP
plaintiffs in this lawsuit, alleging various violations of
her right to vote. Docket no. 900 at 4. She resided in CD30
and HD100. Id. Notably, she alleges a violation of
42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Wallace passed away on September 4, 2016. Docket no. 1347 at
2. By its present motion, the NAACP seeks to substitute Juan
Wallace (“Wallace”), Dr. Wallace's daughter
and heir, as a plaintiff-intervenor in this action. Docket
no. 1348. None of the pleadings indicate where Wallace
resides, but at the April 27 status conference, the NAACP
indicated that she lives in Mesquite, Texas, which is outside
of her mother's districts.
Rule of Civil Procedure 25(a)(1) provides “If a party
dies and the claim is not extinguished, the court
may order substitution of the proper party” (emphasis
added). The parties dispute whether Dr. Wallace's §
1983 claim was extinguished upon her death. The Court finds
that the claim was extinguished, making substitution
Whether Dr. Wallace's claim survives her death depends on
Texas state law, not federal common law.
cast this dispute as a simple one regarding Texas' state
survivorship law. The NAACP argues that Texas law allows Dr.
Wallace's claim to survive, and also invokes survivorship
rules of federal common law.
the Court dispels of the NAACP's reliance on federal
common law. The NAACP argues that
[t]he Supreme Court held that notwithstanding [its prior
ruling in Robertson v. Wegmann, 436 U.S. 584 (1978)
that survival of actions brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 is to be determined by the law of the forum state], the
deterrence goals of § 1983 may require a court to allow
an action to survive the death of the Plaintiff even if the
action would not survive under state law. See Carlson v.
Green, 446 U.S. 14, 24-25 (1980). In holding that the
Plaintiffs' claims survived under federal common law, the
Carlson Court explained: “Robertson
expressly recognized that to prevent frustrations of the
deterrence goals of § 1983 . . . ‘[a] state
official contemplating illegal activity must always be
prepared to face the prospect of a § 1983 action being
filed against him.'” . . .
Thus, . . . if the Defendants' [sic] were correct that
Dr. Wallace's claims do not survive under Texas state
law, federal law considerations in the circumstances of this
case would nonetheless mandate allowing the substitution of
no. 1355 at 3-4 (citations and some alterations original)
(quoting Robertson, 436 U.S. at 592).
argument misreads Carlson, which was based on
Bivens, not § 1983. The Carlson Court
expressly relied on the fact that “Bivens
actions are a creation of federal law” to reason that
“the question whether [the estate's] action
survived [the decedent's] death is a question of federal
law.” Carlson, 446 U.S. at 23.
Carlson adopted the circuit court's reasoning
that survival of a ...