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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Dr. Philip L. Stotter had been a tenured professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Texas at San Antonio since 1974. UTSA provided him with a lab and an office. In December of 1998 and January of 1999, UTSA inspected several labs in the Chemistry Department due to reports of potential health and safety hazards. Richard Garza, a UTSA employee, informed Dr. Weldon Hammond, the Director of Earth and Physical Sciences and supervisor of the Department of Chemistry, that Stotter’s lab needed immediate attention. Stotter’s lab lacked personal protective equipment and proper storage containers and one refrigerator required cleaning. According to UTSA, someone verbally notified Stotter that these deficiencies needed to be corrected. In December 1999, UTSA determined that Stotter’s office was an extreme fire hazard because of papers, trash and boxes. Stotter alleges that he was not present for this inspection, did not receive a copy of the report and was not requested to take any action. According to UTSA, someone again verbally notified him to clean his office. In March 2000, UTSA again inspected Stotter’s lab and determined that some problems still needed attention. Stotter alleges that he was not present for this inspection and did not receive a copy of the report until October 2000 or November 2000. UTSA sent him e-mails about the lab, but Stotter did not use the e-mail system. In summer 2000, Stotter accepted a summer appointment at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. During that time, he closed his lab. On Aug. 14, 2000, while in New Mexico, Stotter sent a memo to UTSA officials and members of the faculty addressing an ongoing dispute regarding his medical leave during 1989-1991 and through 1993. At one point in his memo, he referred to an “administrative misuse of [his] benefits at UTSA.” In October 2000, UTSA again inspected Stotter’s office and determined that problems still existed. Due to health issues, UTSA gave Stotter until Nov. 10, 2000 to clean his office. On Oct. 31, 2000, UTSA also advised Stotter that he needed to address the issues regarding his lab to avoid closure. Plans to clean his office subsequently fell through. On Dec. 18, 2000, UTSA conducted additional inspections of the labs and found that several labs, including Stotter’s, still had problems. Stotter alleges he did not receive this report until Jan. 8, 2001. On Jan. 2, 2001, Dr. Weldon Hammond sent Stotter two letters indicating that he had violated UTSA’s health and safety regulations, that he had been notified several times about these violations and that UTSA intended to remedy the situation with his office on Jan. 8, 2001. The second letter indicated that Provost Dr. Guy Bailey had been notified and was now involved. Stotter responded with a letter detailing his efforts to address these problems. He indicated that he had met with a safety officer about removing the chemicals from his lab and that several colleagues and students were going to help him clean his office sometime in the first week of January. By the end of the first week of January, however, the office had not yet been cleaned, and on Jan. 8, 2001, UTSA proceeded with its plans to clean it. Stotter tried to halt the cleanup effort and caused such a disturbance that UTSA police handcuffed him, took him to his car and advised him to leave the premises. On Jan. 12, 2001, Dr. Richard Romo sent a letter to Stotter informing him that he was being suspended with pay pending an investigation regarding the complaints about his lab and office, his unwillingness to remedy the situation and the incident with UTSA police. On Feb. 23, 2001, Bailey sent a certified letter to Stotter informing him that UTSA closed his lab and that UTSA would clean it on Feb. 26, 2001. Notice of the letter did not reach Stotter until Feb. 28, 2001, two days after the clean up had already occurred. On March 7, 2001, UTSA permitted Stotter to enter his lab. According to Stotter, UTSA discarded all of his personal property that was stored in his lab. On April 2, 2001, Bailey recommended to Romo that Stotter’s contract be terminated for good cause. On May 1, 2001, Romo sent a letter to Stotter extending him an opportunity to meet and discuss the matter. They met on May 11, 2001. After reviewing the allegations, Romo agreed to terminate Stotter’s contract for good cause. On the same day, Stotter filed suit in state court against UTSA, Bailey and UTSA Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs David Johnson alleging a procedural due process claim and seeking a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and declaratory relief. A temporary restraining order issued and the case was subsequently removed to federal court. On Aug. 7, 2001, the district court denied a motion for a preliminary injunction. Meanwhile, Stotter invoked the grievance procedures at UTSA. According to those procedures, a panel of UTSA tenured professors hear the grievance in the first instance and make a recommendation to the Board of Regents, which then approves, rejects or amends the hearing panel’s findings. The board is also required to state in writing the reason for its decision and send a notice of the decision to the faculty member. After a four-day hearing, the grievance panel reached an unanimous decision that there was no good cause to terminate Stotter’s contract. Nonetheless, on Feb. 14, 2002, the board, with the exception of one abstaining regent, voted to terminate Stotter’s contract. Stotter proceeded with his procedural due process claim in federal court. He also filed a separate lawsuit against UTSA, Bailey and Romo alleging equal protection and First Amendment violations arising out of his termination. The district court consolidated the two suits. On Nov. 22, 2005, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, filing a revised order on Dec. 27, 2005, granting the same. On Feb. 27, 2006, Stotter filed an untimely notice of appeal, along with a timely motion to extend the time to file a notice of appeal. Finding good cause, the district court granted the motion. This appeal followed. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. The court affirmed the district court’s grant of the motion to extend the time to file a notice of appeal on the ground that Stotter established excusable neglect based on the fact that his counsel accidentally entered the incorrect year into her new computer-based calendar. Stotter, the court noted, filed his three claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. �1983. Section 1983 provides a private right of action for damages to individuals who are deprived of “any rights, privileges, or immunities” protected by the Constitution or federal law by any person acting under the color of state law. State officials performing discretionary functions, however, are often protected from liability by the doctrine of qualified immunity, which shields such officials from suit insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known. To determine whether an official is entitled to qualified immunity from a suit alleging a constitutional violation, the court stated, courts must ask whether the plaintiff has alleged facts to establish that the official violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights. If the plaintiff alleges sufficient facts, the official is nonetheless entitled to qualified immunity unless the court finds that the official’s conduct was objectively unreasonable in light of clearly established law at the time of the state actions at issue. The court found that the Feb. 23, 2001, letter was insufficient to give Stotter sufficient time to remove any personal items from his lab prior to the Feb. 26, 2001 cleanup. The court found that in cases of state-authorized deprivations of personal property belonging to a state employee, failure to provide a predeprivation remedy implicates the due process clause. In short, the court found that because UTSA and Bailey authorized the alleged deprivation, the deprivation was foreseeable, they had an opportunity to provide a predeprivation remedy, and they failed to give Stotter sufficient time to collect his personal items prior to allegedly discarding them, the district court erred in dismissing Stotter’s procedural due process claim on the basis of the availability of an adequate postdeprivation remedy. Construing this evidence in a light most favorable to Stotter, the court also found that a reasonable juror could conclude that he had a property interest in the items taken from the office and that UTSA and Bailey violated his procedural due process rights by discarding them without giving Stotter sufficient opportunity to retrieve them. Thus, the court held that Stotter set forth sufficient evidence to establish a constitutional violation of a constitutional right (the right to procedural due process) that was clearly established at the time of the violation. OPINION:Dennis, J.; Dennis, Prado and Engelhardt, JJ.

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