(CN) -An Oklahoma chiropractor who was stripped of his license and had his practice closed cannot claim civil rights violations against the state official who instigated the investigation, the 10th Circuit ruled.
The Denver-based appellate panel reversed a district court ruling that denied Ronald Tripp, president of the Oklahoma Board of Chiropractic Examiners, qualified immunity. The three-judge panel found no evidence that Tripp was “personally involved” in a Fourth Amendment violation alleged by chiropractor Jeffrey Lewis.
In 2006, the state chiropractic board revoked Lewis’ license for allegedly making untrue statements on his license application. Officials later suspected that Lewis was still practicing.
Investigators obtained an administrative subpoena and searched Lewis’ office, seizing patient records and shuttering the practice for a week, according to the ruling.
Lewis sued, claiming that the search was illegal. He named Tripp as a defendant, and the district court denied Tripp’s claim of qualified immunity. Tripp appealed to the 10th Circuit, which found that the lower court did not have enough evidence to conclude that Tripp did anything illegal.
“We see no evidence in this record to suggest that Dr. Tripp was personally involved in the Fourth Amendment violation Dr. Lewis alleges,” wrote Judge Neil Gorsuch.
“Dr. Tripp wanted to report Dr. Lewis’s activities to other state authorities who could obtain and execute a search of and perhaps close his practice. But there’s nothing illegal, let alone clearly illegal, about any of this.
“Indeed, it would seem perfectly normal that the president of a state medical society would wish to report the unauthorized practice of medicine and see it investigated,” Gorsuch wrote.