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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The Dallas County Commissioner’s Court delegated operation of the Lyle Medlock Juvenile Facility to Correctional Services Corp, a private company. Harold Cornish was a correctional officer for the facility’s drug treatment unit, where he was required to comply with various local and state laws, regulations and programs. After about six months of employment, Cornish reported to the Texas Youth Commission that CSC was committing numerous violations with respect to staffing, the administration of medication, lack of medical care, lack of educational materials and teachers, and lack of proper certification by some of the other CSC employees. Three months later, in December 2000, after observing a correctional officer assault a juvenile without provocation, Cornish reported the incident to his supervisors at CSC, the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, and the Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. When Cornish later reported the assault to the facility’s administrator, the officer who had assaulted the juvenile threatened Cornish. She was reprimanded, placed on probation and eventually left CSC. In a meeting a month later with another employee and the facility administrator, Cornish was told of the others’ displeasure at his public reporting of the officer who assaulted the juvenile. In September 2001, Cornish complained to the U.S. Department of Labor that CSC had not paid some employees, including himself, for overtime work. And in October, he informed the commissioner’s court of CSC’s intent to rehire the officer who assaulted the juvenile. In November, Cornish stayed past the end of his shift when he realized that if he left, a chemical dependency dorm would be left understaffed. Nonetheless, Cornish was reprimanded for what he did. Cornish filed a complaint with the TCADA. CSC fired Cornish at the end of November 2001 and admitted it did so because of his reports to state and local authorities about CSC’s violations. Cornish filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit against CSC and several individuals affiliated with CSC. The district court granted CSC’s motion to dismiss, which was based on CSC’s argument that, as a private corporation, it could not be sued under the civil rights law. Cornish appealed. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court first agreed that Cornish’s claim of retaliatory discharge violated his 1st and 14th Amendment right was the type of claim that could be brought in a 1983 action. Then, it considered whether CSC could be liable as a defendant in a 1983 action. The complained-of conduct was that CSC terminated Cornish’s employment in retaliation for his reporting CSC’s misconduct to state and local authorities. Therefore, at issue was whether CSC’s decisions as an employer were fairly attributable to the state. To establish state action by a regulated entity like CSC, Cornish had to establish a sufficiently close nexus between the state and CSC’s challenged action. The court rejected Cornish’s argument that CSC performed a public function for the state, and that therefore its actions could be attributed to the state. The court pointed out, however, that the issue was whether CSC’s termination of Cornish was state action, not whether providing juvenile correctional services is state action. “CSC’s conduct in terminating Cornish is not fairly attributable to Dallas County under the state compulsion test. Similarly, the complaint contains no allegations that Dallas County willfully participated, or was a joint participant, in CSC’s decision to terminate Cornish’s employment. Therefore, the employment decision is not fairly attributable to Dallas County under either the nexus/state action test or the joint action test. In sum, Cornish has failed to plead any facts alleging that the State encouraged, compelled, or was in any way involved in CSC’s decision to terminate his employment.” OPINION:Rhesa Hawkins Barksdale, J.; Wiener, Barksdale and Dennis, JJ.

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