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Friday, September 13, 2013

Blantz v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: Independent Contractor Does Not Have Constitutionally Protected Property Interest in Her Position with the State

A quick note on this case, in which the Ninth Circuit affirmed dismissal of a case based on allegations that the plaintiff was terminated without explanation from her independent contractor position as a nurse for the California prison system and effectively barred from further employment within the system. 

In Blantz v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, ___ F.3d ___ (9th Cir. 8/15/13), plaintiff Christine Blantz worked as an independent contractor nurse for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). She alleged that CDCR terminated her position unexpectedly and without cause and when she applied for another position elsewhere within CDCR, she was informed that she had received poor reviews and therefore did not meet the job requirements. Blantz sued the CDCR and various CDCR employees. 

After one of the individual defendants removed, the district court dismissed Blantz's two federal claims, which alleged that the defendants deprived her of property and liberty without due process in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court dismissed all of her claims against defendant Terry Hill (the former Chief Medical Officer for the Receiver of the California prison medical care system) and remanded the remainder of her state law claims to the superior court.  

The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that Blantz did not have a constitutionally protected property interest in her independent contractor position with the CDCR and that she failed to allege sufficient facts to state a claim for denial of liberty without due process. It also held that dismissal of the claims against Dr. Hill was appropriate because the allegations concerning him were conclusory and implausible on their face. 

The opinion is available here.  

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