In Heartland Academy Community Church v. Waddle, (8th Cir., Feb. 8, 2010), the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of appeals refused to dismiss on qualified immunity grounds a civil rights action for damages against various Missouri officials who conspired in 2001 to remove 115 students from a Christian faith-based boarding school for children with behavioral and substance abuse problems. The court described the underlying charges:
Two of the conspiracy’s more prominent members were Chief Juvenile Officers Michael Waddle (Waddle) and Cindy Ayers (Ayers).Waddle, the conspiracy’s ringleader, disliked HCA because (1) HCA was unlicensed (legally), (2) Waddle disagreed with HACC’s teachings, and (3) Waddle believed HCA had not acted "very Christ-like." Ayers complained HCA was "growing too fast," and expressed the view that "there [were] people everywhere at [HCA], including children from foreign countries," and Missouri should slow or "put a stop" to HCA.The court rejected defendants' claim that the trial court failed to look at each official's conduct individually when ruling on qualified immunity.
The charged conspiracy reached its nadir on October 30, 2001, when juvenile authorities and armed law enforcement officers, 30 total, arrived at HCA’s campus
and removed 115 of its students. The Officials did not provide any notice to Heartland of the removal until the last possible moment. Waddle and Ayers procured ex parte orders from local juvenile court judges to remove HCA’s students. Waddle
and Ayers used false misrepresentations to obtain the ex parte removal orders. The juvenile court judges issued the ex parte orders under the false impressions (1) all HCA students were in imminent danger of physical harm, (2) HCA was unwilling to
cooperate with the relevant juvenile authorities, and (3) no lesser alternative short of a mass removal was available to ensure the students’ safety.