MERANDA MARTIN, SUCCESSOR SPECIAL ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF VIRGIL BROWN, JR., DECEASED APPELLANT
DR. LESLIE SMITH APPELLEE
FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SEVENTEENTH DIVISION
[NO. 60CV-13-4061] HONORABLE MACKIE M. PIERCE, JUDGE
O'Neil, for appellant.
Anderson, Murphy & Hopkins, L.L.P., by: Mark D. Wankum,
A. WOMACK, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE
Martin, on behalf of her deceased father's estate,
appeals the circuit court's order granting summary
judgment to Dr. Leslie Smith based on quasi-judicial
immunity. Because the underlying suit seeks to hold Dr. Smith
liable for his performance of functions integral to the
judicial process, we hold he is entitled to quasi-judicial
immunity for those actions and therefore affirm.
early hours of November 30, 2011, Kenneth McFadden brutally
stabbed Virgil Brown, Jr., to death in the apartment they
shared. At the time of the murder, McFadden was in custody of
Greater Assistance to Those in Need, Inc. ("Gain"),
as part of his conditional release under Act 911 of 1989.
See Ark. Code Ann. § 5-2-315 (Repl. 2013).
Under the terms of the conditional release order, McFadden
was also receiving psychiatric treatment provided by
Gain's medical director, board-certified psychiatrist Dr.
had been on conditional release since 2004. That year,
McFadden was acquitted of third-degree battery, second
offense, by reason of mental disease or defect. He was
subsequently diagnosed with schizophrenia and conditionally
released under Act 911. The controlling order at the time of
Brown's murder released McFadden into Gain's custody
for the purpose of receiving his prescribed treatment for
schizophrenia. The order named Gain as the responsible agency
for monitoring McFadden's compliance with his prescribed
treatment regimen. McFadden was ordered to comply with the
prescribed regimen and was required to have regular personal
contact with an Act 911 compliance monitor to verify
compliance. The monitor was required to periodically inform
the circuit court of McFadden's compliance with the terms
also imposes responsibilities on the "person ordered to
be in charge" of the prescribed treatment regimen. Ark.
Code Ann. § 5-2-315(e). As relevant here, that person
was required to: (1) provide McFadden with the prescribed
treatment regimen; (2) submit periodic written documentation
to the Act 911 monitor regarding McFadden's compliance
with the regimen; and (3) submit written notice of
McFadden's failure to comply with the regimen to the Act
911 monitor, the attorneys involved in the case, and the
circuit court. Id. The conditional release order
commanded Gain to carry out these duties, rather than a
specific person as contemplated by the statutory language of
Act 911. Dr. Smith carried out these responsibilities by
serving as McFadden's treating physician and informing
the circuit court of McFadden's condition and compliance
with the prescribed regimen.
Martin, Brown's daughter, filed the underlying action
against Dr. Smith on behalf of her father's estate.
Martin claimed that Dr. Smith's alleged failure to
provide adequate treatment to McFadden rendered him liable
for her father's death. Dr. Smith asserted absolute
quasi-judicial immunity and moved for summary judgment. The
circuit court found that Dr. Smith was entitled to immunity
because his treatment and medical care of McFadden arose
solely from the conditional release order and was within the
scope of that order. The circuit court further held that
Martin failed to meet proof with proof and did not refute Dr.
Smith's assertion of immunity. Martin's complaint
against Dr. Smith was dismissed with prejudice as a matter of
law. This appeal followed.
Standard of Review
Arkansas Court of Appeals initially considered Martin's
appeal. See Martin v. Smith, 2018 Ark.App. 452, 560
S.W.3d 787. With a 5-1 majority, that court affirmed the
circuit court's decision and concluded that Dr. Smith was
entitled to quasi-judicial immunity under Chambers v.
Stern, 338 Ark. 332, 994 S.W.2d 463 (1999). We granted
Martin's petition for review and now consider this appeal
as though it was originally filed in this court. See
Dachs v. Hendrix, 2009 Ark. 322, at 2, 320 S.W.3d 645,
judgment is appropriate only when it is apparent that no
genuine issues of material fact exist requiring litigation
and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law. See Stokes v. Stokes, 2016 Ark. 182, at 8-9,
491 S.W.3d 113, 120. In reviewing a grant of summary
judgment, we determine if summary judgment was appropriate
based on whether the evidentiary items presented by the
moving party in support of the motion left a material
question of fact unanswered. Id. We view the
evidence in the light most favorable to the party against
whom the motion was filed, resolving all doubts and
inferences against the moving party. Id. A grant of