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Sorenson v. Minnesota Department of Human Services

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

July 31, 2014

Eric Michael Sorenson, Plaintiff,
v.
Minnesota Department of Human Services, et al., Defendants.

ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

LEO I. BRISBOIS, Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge upon the State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 28]; Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Default Judgment, [Docket No. 57]; Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Default Judgment, [Docket No. 80]; Plaintiff's Motion to Consider the Defendants' Current Motion to Dismiss Moot or Denied, [Docket No. 88]; Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint, [Docket No. 92]; the State Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Supplemental Complaint, [Docket No. 100]; and Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Supplemental Complaint as of Right or Freely, [Docket No. 124]. This case has been referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for report and recommendation, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Rules 72.1.

For reasons articulated herein, the Court orders that Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint, [Docket No. 92], is GRANTED; and that Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Supplemental Complaint as of Right or Freely, [Docket No. 124], is GRANTED.

For the reasons articulated herein, the Court recommends that the State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 28], be GRANTED in its entirety; that Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Default Judgment, [Docket No. 57], be DENIED as moot; that Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Default Judgment, [Docket No. 80], be DENIED as moot; that Plaintiff's Motion to Consider the Defendants' Current Motion to Dismiss Moot or Denied, [Docket No. 88], be DENIED; and that the State Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Supplemental Complaint, [Docket No. 100], be GRANTED in its entirety.

I. STATEMENT OF ALLEGED FACTS

Plaintiff Eric Michael Sorenson ("Plaintiff"), a patient civilly committed in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program ("MSOP"), proceeding pro se, initiated the present lawsuit on or about October 29, 2013, naming as Defendants numerous departments and employees of the State of Minnesota (collectively, the "State Defendants") along with two civilly committed MSOP patients. (Compl. [Docket No. 1]). On March 23, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Supplemental Complaint, [Docket No. 70], alleging additional claims and implicating additional employees of the State of Minnesota. Accordingly, Plaintiff sets forth the allegations and claims at issue in the present case via two separate vehicles: the original Complaint, [Docket No. 1], and a Supplemental Complaint, [Docket No. 70].

A. Plaintiff's Complaint

On or about October 29, 2013, Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint in the present federal civil rights action, demanding relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's original Complaint, [Docket No. 1], alleges approximately twenty-three (23) counts against numerous Defendants arising out of two separate incidents of assault, alleged to have occurred during Plaintiff's civil commitment at MSOP. Plaintiff generally alleges that the named State Defendants, [1] sued in both their individual and official capacities, "[f]ailed to protect that Plaintiff from a serious risk of harm to a brutal sexual and physical assault at the hands of other clients [detained at MSOP]." (Id. ¶¶ 2a, 31). Plaintiff alleges one count of deliberate indifference to "an extreme risk of physical assault, " in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Constitution and the Minnesota state constitution; one count of deliberate indifference to the "risk of brutal sexual assault, " in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Constitution and the Minnesota state constitution; one count of failure to provide adequate procedural due process; one count of deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs following assault, in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Constitution and the Minnesota state constitution; one count of deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs following sexual assault, in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Constitution and the Minnesota state constitution; four counts of failure to protect Plaintiff, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and the Minnesota state constitution; three counts of retaliation, in violation of the First Amendment and equitable provisions of the Minnesota state constitution; one count of "censorship, " in violation of the First Amendment and equitable provisions of the Minnesota state constitution; two counts of conspiracy, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1985; one count of negligent and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress; two counts of negligence; one count of defamation; and one count of reprisal. (Id. at Counts 1-20). Additionally, Plaintiff alleges one count of assault and battery; one count of intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress; and one count of false imprisonment against fellow MSOP patients Joel Brown and Jeremy Hammond. (Id. at Counts 21-23). Plaintiff appears to generally allege all claims save Counts 21, 22, and 23 against all State Defendants collectively.

As mentioned, the underlying facts alleged in Plaintiff's original Complaint in support of Plaintiff's 23 claims revolve around two alleged assaults. First, Plaintiff alleges that on or about October 18, 2013, at approximately 11:00 p.m., MSOP patient Joel Brown physically assaulted Plaintiff. (Id. ¶¶ 32-33). Plaintiff alleges that the State Defendants, collectively, are to blame for the assault due to their "deliberate indifference" and their hand in placing Defendant Brown and Plaintiff in the same room. (Id. ¶ 32, 34). Plaintiff generally alleges that he informed the State Defendants, collectively, that he and Defendant Brown were "not getting along" prior to the assault, that Plaintiff and Defendant Brown had attempted to resolve their differences via "staff facilitated mediated sessions, " and that these sessions were ultimately unproductive. (Id. ¶¶ 35-37). Plaintiff alleges that the State Defendants, collectively, denied Plaintiff's request(s) to "remove himself" from Defendant Brown and that the State Defendants, collectively, should have known that Plaintiff was at risk of being assaulted, "as Mr. Brown has had an excessive history of physical violence...." (Id. ¶¶ 39, 41). Plaintiff attempts to document the State Defendants' alleged deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's risk of assault by alleging that they had made comments to Plaintiff including, "you guys seem to be pissed off at each other because you both threatened each other." (Id. ¶ 42).

In connection with this first alleged underlying assault, Plaintiff asserts that the Health Services Department at MSOP failed to adequately examine Plaintiff for a concussion following the assault and failed to provide Plaintiff with adequate medical care generally. (Id. ¶ 46). Plaintiff further alleges that the State Defendants, collectively, retaliated against Plaintiff when he threatened to sue the State Defendants as a result of the underlying assault, as evidenced by the fact that the State Defendants issued Plaintiff a "Major Behavioral Expectations Report (BER)" stating that Plaintiff had been threatening others. (Id. ¶¶ 48, 50).

With regard to the second alleged underlying assault, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Jeremy Hammond, also civilly committed at MSOP, sexually assaulted Plaintiff sometime in 2012. (Id. ¶ 54). Plaintiff again blames the State Defendants, collectively, for their deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's risk of sexual assault. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he informed the State Defendants that, prior to the alleged assault, Defendant Hammond had threated to sexually assault Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 56). Plaintiff alleges that after seeing a doctor outside of MSOP following the reported sexual assault, the State Defendants received "orders" to test Plaintiff for sexually transmitted diseases; however, according to Plaintiff, the State Defendants claimed to have lost the medical orders and Plaintiff did not receive the prescribed testing for sexually transmitted diseases. (Id. ¶¶ 61-63).

Plaintiff generally alleges that the State Defendants are collectively responsible for Plaintiff's alleged injuries, and that the State Defendants have generally "enacted and follow[ed] policies, practices, procedures, whether verbally stated in whatever media or non-verbally stated by the natural Defendants themselves and/or any person(s) acting in concert, which have contributed and/or are the direct and proximate cause of the Plaintiff's injuries as specifically set forth above." (Id. ¶¶ 78, 79, 91, 92, 100, 101, 110, 111, 122, 123, 132, 133, 140, 141, 148, 149, 154, 155, 163, 164, 171, 172, 183, 184, 191, 192, 201, 202, 211, 212). Additionally, Plaintiff generally alleges that the "supervisory" State Defendants - specifically, Defendants Jesson, Johnston, Hebert, Berg, and Moser - failed to adequately train their respective subordinates. (Id. ¶¶ 77, 90, 99, 109, 121, 131, 139, 147, 153, 162, 170, 182, 190, 200, 210).

B. Plaintiff's Supplemental Complaint

In his Supplemental Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that since filing his original Complaint, [Docket No. 1], the State Defendants have committed additional retaliatory actions against Plaintiff, in violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights; restricted Plaintiff's vocational opportunities within MSOP; and have continued to fail to protect Plaintiff from harm. (Supp. Compl. [Docket No. 70]).

Plaintiff alleges additional supplemental claims against eight additional State Defendants, including the 2012 to present MSOP OSI Department and Respective OSI Employees ("Doe #5"); MSOP employee Todd White; MSOP employee Ciara Macklanburg; MSOP employee Paul Christenson; MSOP employee Charlie Hoffman; MSOP employee Scott Benoit; MSOP employee Terry Kenisel; and "other Jane/John Does[.]" (Id. ¶ 17). Plaintiff sues each supplemental State Defendant in his or her official and individual capacities. (Id. ¶ 19).

Plaintiff's Supplemental Complaint further alleges that as a result of informing State Defendant Brewer-Ottom (identified in the caption of Plaintiff's original Complaint) of the present lawsuit and Plaintiff's claims against her, Defendant Brewer-Ottom was "very abrupt, rude and disrespectful" to Plaintiff and began removing shifts from Plaintiff's vocational programming schedule. (Id. ¶¶ 22-25). Plaintiff alleges that a connection exists, "through circumstantial evidence, " between Defendant Brewer-Ottom's actions and Plaintiff's exercise of constitutionally protected rights, constituting unconstitutional retaliation. (Id. ¶ 30, Count I). Plaintiff alleges one count of retaliation against Defendants Brewer-Ottom, White, and Macklanburg, although the Supplemental Complaint is devoid of mention of any specific retaliatory action by either White or Macklanburg. (Id. at Count I). Plaintiff implicates Defendants Jesson, Johnston, Hebert, Berg, Moser, Christenson, Hoffman, Puffer, Benoit, and Kensiel in their supervisory roles as they were "aware of the policies and practices that [were] implemented at MSOP, " did nothing to prevent the alleged retaliatory conduct, and "actively participated in such conduct." (Id. ¶ 54).

Second, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Doe #5, of the institutional department allegedly responsible for handling violations of the law by MSOP patients, failed to meaningfully interview Plaintiff regarding the underlying assaults, in violation of Plaintiff's procedural and substantive due process rights. (Id. ¶¶ 34-35, Counts II & III). Plaintiff only generally alleges that Defendant Doe #5 failed to provide Plaintiff with adequate procedural and substantive due process. (Id. ¶¶ 61, 68). Again, Plaintiff implicates the involvement of supervisory Defendants Jesson, Johnston, Hebert, Berg, Moser, Christenson, Hoffman, Puffer, Benoit, and Kenisel for their awareness of MSOP policies, failure to intervene, and failure to adequately train and supervise "subordinate Defendants." (Id. ¶ 62).

Third, Plaintiff generally alleges conspiracy pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1985 by Defendants Doe #5, Macklanburg, White, Brewer-Ottom, "and the rest of the administrative Defendants, " generally alleging an otherwise unspecified "meeting of the minds." (Id. ¶¶ 73-74, Count IV).

In Count V of Plaintiff's Supplemental Complaint, Plaintiff conclusorily alleges violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act without including any specific allegations regarding the nature of such violations. (Id. ¶¶ 39-40). Plaintiff conclusorily states that he is a qualified person with a disability, (Id. ¶ 82), and he makes only a general reference to Defendants' removal of Plaintiff's vocational hours, (Id. ¶ 84). Again, Plaintiff implicates the supervisory subset of State Defendants and includes a general reference to unspecified MSOP policies and practices. (Id. ¶¶ 87, 88).

Plaintiff further alleges that he was subject to employment discrimination at the hands of the State Defendants upon losing his vocational placement. (Id. at Count VII).

Plaintiff also alleges various state law claims as a result of the facts alleged in the Supplemental Complaint, including negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, (Count VI), defamation (Count VIII), breach of contract (Count IX), and negligence (Count X). Specifically with regard to his defamation claim, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Brewer-Ottom, White, Macklanburg, and Doe #5 committed defamation against Plaintiff by publishing "information contained within the Vocational Treatment Memos that the Plaintiff received, " which will allegedly have an unspecific negative impact on Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 42, Count VIII). Plaintiff alleges that in so denying Plaintiff his requested vocational work, the State Defendants breached the contract between Plaintiff and Defendants. (Id. at Count IX).

Each of the present motions before the Court will be addressed in turn.

II. PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT, [DOCKET NO. 92]

Plaintiff moves the Court for an order granting Plaintiff leave to amend his original Complaint in the present case, [Docket No. 92].

A. Plaintiff's Proposed First Amended Complaint

By his proposed First Amended Complaint, [Docket No. 97], Plaintiff seeks to more clearly articulate that he brings the present suit against the named State Defendants in their official and individual capacities for (1) failure to protect Plaintiff from both a physical assault and a sexual assault; (2) failure to provide Plaintiff with adequate medical care following the subject assaults; (3) failure to provide "equal treatment" to Plaintiff both prior to and following the subject assaults; and (4) retaliatory action taken against Plaintiff. (Proposed First Amended Compl. [Docket No. 97], ¶ 2). Plaintiff's proposed First Amended Complaint incorporates additional, more specific factual allegations in support of his original 23 counts, although the nature of the claims themselves remains largely intact when compared to Plaintiff's original Complaint. (See [Docket No. 96]).

In addition to Plaintiff's additional factual allegations, Plaintiff's proposed First Amended Complaint identifies additional "Unknown and/or Doe" Defendants, including MSOP Health Services Department Staff; 2010 to present MSOP Transport Officers; 2010 to present MSOP Complex Unit 1-E Clinical Staff; 2010 to present MSOP Complex Unit 1-E Lead(s); and 2010 to present MSOP Behavioral Expectations Unit (BEU) Team. (Proposed First Amended Compl. [Docket No. 97], ¶¶ 28-32). Plaintiff also alleges a general failure by each of the individually identified State Defendants to remedy his alleged grievances and a general failure to protect Plaintiff, seemingly as an attempt to sufficiently implicate the specific, individual involvement of each individually identified State Defendant. (Id. ¶¶ 8-23).

The specific factual allegations advanced by Plaintiff's proposed First Amended Complaint will be discussed in further detail in the Court's analysis of the State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 28]. See Section III, infra.

B. Standard of Review

Except where amendment is permitted as a matter of course, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 provides that a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave, and Rule 15 instructs that "[t]he court should freely give leave when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). The Supreme Court has explained the purposes of Rule 15(a) as follows:

If the underlying facts or circumstances relied upon by a plaintiff may be a proper subject of relief, he ought to be afforded an opportunity to test his claim on the merits. In the absence of such an apparent or declared reason - such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of the amendment, etc. - the leave sought should, as the rules require, be "freely given."

Foman v. Davis , 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Although "parties do not have an absolute right to amend their pleadings, even under this liberal standard, " Sherman v. Winco Fireworks, Inc. , 532 F.3d 709, 715 (8th Cir. 2008), the Court begins its review "with a presumption of liberality." DeRoche v. All Am. Bottling Corp. , 38 F.Supp.2d 1102, 1106 (D. Minn. 1998).

C. Analysis

First and foremost, the State Defendants do not oppose Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint, [Docket No. 92]. (Resp. Mem. [Docket No. 137], at 3). This alone encourages the Court to grant Plaintiff's motion. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).

In addition to the fact that the State Defendants do not oppose Plaintiff's motion, Eighth Circuit jurisprudence provides that courts should consider motions to amend the pleadings prior to ruling on pending motions to dismiss. In Pure Country, Inc. v. Sigma Chi Fraternity , 312 F.2d 952 (8th Cir. 2002), the defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Id. at 955. While the motion to dismiss was pending, the plaintiff filed a motion to amend its pleading and add additional parties. Id . The district court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss and denied as moot the plaintiff's motion to amend. Id . On appeal, the Eighth Circuit reversed, writing:

[T]he district court ignored Pure Country's motion to amend, granted Sigma Chi's motion to dismiss the original complaint, and then denied Pure Country's motion to amend the complaint as moot. That approach, as a procedural matter, was plainly erroneous. If anything, Pure Country's motion to amend the complaint rendered moot Sigma Chi's motion to dismiss the original complaint. We therefore reverse the district court's denial of Pure Country's motion to amend the complaint, and we remand the matter to the district court with instructions to reconsider the motion under the discretionary standard asserted by Pure Country. In order to permit the district court to reconsider the motion to amend the complaint, we also vacate the district court's dismissal of the original complaint; however, we do so subject to the possibility that the claims in question may again be dismissed by the district court following its ruling on the motion to amend.

Id. at 956 (internal citations omitted). The Eighth Circuit held that it is procedural error to grant a pending motion to dismiss, and subsequently dismiss a motion to amend the complaint as moot, recommending, instead, that courts apply the Rule 15 discretionary standard and first weigh motions to amend. Id .; Murrin v. Fischer, No. 07-cv-1295 (PJS/RLE), 2008 WL 540857 (D. Minn. Feb. 25, 2008). Similarly, in Reinholdson v. Minnesota, No. 01-cv-1650 (RHK/JMM), 2001 WL 34660104 (D. Minn. Oct. 26, 2001), the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint. The plaintiff responded by filing a First Amended Complaint. The district court referred the motion to dismiss to the magistrate judge and directed the court to, at the same time, consider the plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (in accordance with Pure Country). The court determined that it would allow the plaintiff to consider whether he desired to amend the complaint further, in light of the issues raised in the motion to dismiss. From there, the Court instructed the parties that the motion to dismiss, if still appropriate, would be directed at the final amended complaint.

Accordingly, the Court finds that it is procedurally proper to allow amendments in the present case prior to consideration of any motions to dismiss and the merits of Plaintiff's claims. The Court freely allows Plaintiff leave to amend his Complaint, by the addition of factual allegations and the clarification of existing claims. Plaintiff should be allowed a full and fair opportunity to construct his claims as he sees fit prior to consideration of the State Defendants' motion to dismiss. See Foman , 371 U.S. at 182.

The Court finds no reason, on the present record, as to why it should deny Plaintiff the opportunity to amend his Complaint. Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend was filed in time to be considered prior to the State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 28]. Significantly, the State Defendants do not oppose the proposed amendments and will not suffer any undue prejudice as a result of the proposed amendments. As articulated in the facts section above, Plaintiff's proposed First Amended Complaint does not introduce any new claims not previously encompassed by Plaintiff's original Complaint.

The proposed amendments Plaintiff seeks to incorporate which add to the original pleadings are limited to only additional factual allegations in support of the originally advanced claims. "If the underlying facts or circumstances relied upon by a plaintiff may be a proper subject of relief, [they] ought to be afforded an opportunity to test [their] claim on the merits[, ]" Foman , 371 U.S. at 182, and such a test as is currently pending before the Court in the form of the State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 28], should be considered in light of facts Plaintiff thinks sufficient to respond to and withstand the pending motion to dismiss. See generally, Pure Country, Inc. , 312 F.2d at 956.

For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint, [Docket No. 92].

III. STATE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS, [DOCKET NO. 28]

The State Defendants (namely, all Defendants save MSOP patient Defendants Brown and Hammond) move the Court for an order dismissing Plaintiff's original Complaint with prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). (State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 28]).

Upon extensive review of Plaintiff's now operative First Amended Complaint, [Docket No. 97], the Plaintiff does not incorporate any new, additional claims against the State Defendants. Additionally, to the extent the First Amended Complaint makes factual adjustments and clarifications to Plaintiff's existing claims, the Court concludes that the amendments do not significantly or materially alter the original Complaint but rather serve simply to clarify Plaintiff's existing claims. Therefore, in the interests of judicial efficiency, the Court will consider the State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 28], as redirected at Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint.[2]

A. Standard of Review

1. Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

"A court must dismiss an action over which it lacks subject matter jurisdiction." Pomerenke v. Bird, No. 12-cv-1757 (DSD/JJG), 2014 WL 30363, at *1 (D. Minn. Jan. 3, 2014) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3)). Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party may move to dismiss a pleading for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Such a motion may challenge at any time the sufficiency of the pleading on its face or may challenge the factual truthfulness of its allegations. See Titus v. Sullivan , 4 F.3d 590, 593 (8th Cir. 1993); Osborn v. United States , 918 F.2d 724, 729 n.6 (8th Cir. 1990). In a factual challenge, courts may consider matters outside of the pleadings, and no presumptive truthfulness attaches to the plaintiff's factual allegations. Osborn , 918 F.2d at 729-30, n.6.

2. Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief May Be Granted

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires a complaint articulate only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. In addressing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, "[courts] look only to the facts alleged in the complaint and construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Riley v. St. Louis County of Mo. , 153 F.3d 627, 629 (8th Cir. 1998) (citing Double D Spotting Serv., Inc. v. Supervalu, Inc. , 136 F.3d 554, 556 (8th Cir. 1998)), cert. denied 525 U.S. 1178 (1999). All reasonable inferences must be drawn in favor of the nonmoving party. See Maki v. Allete, Inc. , 383 F.3d 740, 742 (8th Cir. 2004).

"While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulistic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal quotations and citations omitted). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, " and "[w]here a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556-67). "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Id. at 664.

Courts must undertake the "context-specific task" of determining whether the moving party's allegations "nudge" its claims against the defendant "across the line from conceivable to plausible." See id. at 679-81. The moving party must "plead[ ] factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 678. "The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id .; see also Farnam Street Fin., Inc. v. Pump Media, Inc., No. 09-cv-233 (MJD/FLN), 2009 WL 4672668, at *3 (D. Minn. Dec. 8, 2009) (citing Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678).

Even considering the liberal construction given to pro se plaintiffs' pleadings, the facts alleged in a complaint must state a claim for relief as a matter of law. Sorenson v. Minnesota Dep't of Corr., No. 12-cv-1336 (ADM/AJB), 2012 WL 3143927, at *2 (D. Minn. Aug. 2, 2012) (citing Martin v. Aubuchon , 623 F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980)). "Though pro se complaints are to be construed liberally, they still must allege sufficient facts to support the claims advanced." Stone v. Harry , 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004) (internal citations omitted). See, e.g., Dunn v. White , 880 F.2d 1188, 1197 (10th Cir. 1989) (regarding a pro se plaintiff, "we will not supply additional facts, nor will we construct a legal theory for plaintiff that assumes facts that have not been pleaded"); Cunningham v. Ray , 648 F.2d 1185, 1186 (8th Cir. 1981) ("[P]ro se litigants must set [a claim] forth in a manner which, taking the pleaded facts as true, states a claim as a matter of law."). "Although pro se pleadings are to be construed liberally, pro se litigants are not excused from failing to comply with substantive and procedural law." Burgs v. Sissel , 745 F.2d 526, 528 (8th Cir. 1984).

B. Analysis

As discussed in Sections I and II, supra, Plaintiff alleges approximately 20 separately articulated claims against the State Defendants, often directed at the State Defendants collectively. Plaintiff explicitly brings the present Section 1983 action against the Minnesota Department of Human Services, MSOP, numerous individually identified MSOP employees in both their individual and official capacities, and various unidentified MSOP "Doe Defendants." The Court evaluates Plaintiff's claims as advanced in his now operative First Amended Complaint and as challenged in the State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 28].

1. Plaintiff's Federal Claims Against the State Entity Defendants and Individual Defendants in their Official Capacities

As a threshold jurisdictional consideration, the Eleventh Amendment prohibits an action for monetary damages against a state unless it has unequivocally consented to suit or Congress has abrogated the states' immunity for a particular federal cause of action. Hadley v. North Arkansas Community Technical College , 76 F.3d 1437, 1438 (8th Cir. 1996) (citations omitted); Faibisch v. University of Minnesota , 304 F.3d 797, 800 (8th Cir. 2002). States are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity from federal claims brought under Section 1983. Hadley , 76 F.3d at 1438 ("Section 1983 does not override Eleventh Amendment immunity.").

The immunity afforded a state in federal court extends to agencies of the state. Minnesota Pharmacists Ass'n v. Pawlenty , 690 F.Supp.2d 809, 815 (D. Minn. 2010) (citing Florida Dep't of Health & Rehabilitative Servs. v. Florida Nursing Home Ass'n , 450 U.S. 147, 101 S.Ct. 1032, 67 L.Ed.2d 132 (1981)). Similarly, a suit against a state employee in that person's official capacity constitutes a suit against the public employer, namely, the state itself. Johnson v. Outboard Marine Corp. , 172 F.3d 531, 535 (8th Cir. 1999) (citing Kentucky v. Graham , 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985)); see also Uland v. City of Winsted , 570 F.Supp.2d 1114, 1119-20 (D. Minn. 2008) (citing Baker v. Chisom , 501 F.3d 920, 924 (8th Cir. 2007); Bankhead v. Knickrehm , 360 F.3d 839, 844 (8th Cir. 2004)). "The law is clear that, the real party in interest in an official capacity suit is the governmental entity and not the named official.'" Semler v. Ludeman, No. 09-cv-0732 (ADM/SRN), 2010 WL 145275, at *6 (D. Minn. Jan. 8, 2010) (citing Baker , 501 F.3d at 925 (quoting Hafer v. Melo , 502 U.S. 21, 25, 112 S.Ct. 358, 116 L.Ed.2d 301 (1999))). "It is well-settled that in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, the Eleventh Amendment precludes an award of money damages against a state official acting in his or her official capacity. A plaintiff may maintain an action against a government official if the complaint seeks only injunctive or prospective relief." Semler, 2010 WL 145275, at *7 (citations omitted).

As employees of MSOP and the Minnesota Department of Human Services, the individually identified State Defendants are state officials. The Court necessarily construes Plaintiff's alleged Section 1983 official capacity claims against the Minnesota Department of Human Services, MSOP, and the individually identified State Defendants as alleged against the employing entity, the State of Minnesota.

The present record before the Court lacks any evidence or authority demonstrating either the state's consent to suit or Congressional abrogation of the state's sovereign immunity, and therefore, the Court recommends that Plaintiff's Section 1983 claims as alleged against the Minnesota Department of Human Services, MSOP, and any and all individually identified state employees sued in their official capacities be dismissed with prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction to the extent Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. See Semler, 2010 WL 145275, at *6 ("To the extent Plaintiff asserts claims against the Minnesota Department of Human Services, MSOP, or individually identified State Defendants for actions taken in their official capacities pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the claims must be dismissed with prejudice.").[3]

2. Plaintiff's State Law Claims Against the State Entity Defendants and Individual Defendants in their Official Capacities

In addition to his Section 1983 claims, Plaintiff alleges a number of state law official capacity claims against the State Defendants. To the extent Plaintiff alleges any state law claims against the Minnesota Department of Human Services, MSOP, and any individually identified State Defendants in their official capacities (i.e., state law claims alleged against the State of Minnesota itself, see Section ...


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