from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Ohio at Columbus. No. 2:12-cv-01126-Michael H.
Watson, District Judge.
Michael Garth Moore for Appellant.
A. Soulas, Jr. for Appellee.
Before: NORRIS, SUTTON, and DONALD, Circuit Judges.
SUTTON, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Crabbs filed a § 1983 claim alleging that the local
police violated his Fourth (and Fourteenth) Amendment right
to be secure from unreasonable searches. But he died before
the case could be resolved. Anne Crabbs, Keith's mother
and the personal representative of his estate, filed a motion
to substitute as a party. The district court found that
Keith's death extinguished his claim and dismissed the
case. Because Keith's § 1983 action qualifies as a
"cause of action for . . . injuries to the
person" under the Ohio survivorship statute and thus
outlasts his death, we reverse and remand.
December 2010, Keith Crabbs surrendered to the Franklin
County Sheriff on charges of voluntary manslaughter. After
spending a night in jail, the court released him on bond.
Keith's trial did not begin until March 2012.
days into the trial, the court revoked Keith's bond after
he arrived late and quarreled with a witness outside of the
courthouse. Ohio law requires county sheriffs to collect a
DNA specimen of anybody "arrested on or after July 1,
2011, for a felony offense." Ohio Rev. Code §
2901.07(B)(1)(a). The jail officials failed to collect a
sample of Keith's DNA when they took him back into
custody, triggering an "ID hold" on him. R. 82-1 at
2. At the conclusion of trial, the jury acquitted Keith. But
because of the hold, the County Sheriff required Keith to
undergo a DNA cheek swab before releasing him.
filed a § 1983 action against Sheriff Zach Scott in his
official capacity alleging that the Sheriff's
DNA-collection and ID-hold policies, when applied to
acquitted defendants, violate the Fourth Amendment. Before
the litigation came to an end, however, Keith died. Anne
Crabbs, Keith's mother and the personal representative of
his estate, moved the court to allow her to take Keith's
place under Civil Rule 25(a)(1). The district court denied
the motion and dismissed the case. Anne appeals.
a party dies and the claim is not extinguished, the court may
order substitution of the proper party." Civil Rule
25(a)(1). We tend to review substitution determinations for
an abuse of discretion. See Bauer v. Commerce Union
Bank, 859 F.2d 438, 441 (6th Cir. 1988). But a district
court necessarily abuses its discretion when it commits an
error of law. United States v. Taylor, 286 F.3d 303,
305 (6th Cir. 2002). The district court denied Anne's
motion to substitute because it determined that Keith's
death extinguished his claim. All that was at issue then, and
all that is at issue now, is whether Keith's claim
survived his death. That is a question of law. Fresh review
applies. See Bailey v. City of Ann Arbor, 860 F.3d
382, 385 (6th Cir. 2017).
determine whether § 1983 claims survive, we first look
to federal law for an applicable rule of decision.
Robertson v. Wegmann, 436 U.S. 584, 588-95 (1978).
If no suitable federal rule exists, we use the law of the
forum state to the extent it is "not inconsistent with