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Seenyur v. Hammer

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

March 23, 2015

Antonio Seenyur, Plaintiff,
Steve Hammer, Warden, MCF-Rush City; Steve Hout, Director of SOTP, Rush City; and Jennifer Lynne Coolidge, SOTP Program Director, Rush City; Defendants.


BECKY R. THORSON, Magistrate Judge.

This Court previously issued an Order requiring Plaintiff to provide a new application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") and to pay an initial filing fee. (Doc. No. 6.) Plaintiff complied with that Order by paying the initial filing fee and submitting a proper IFP application, which includes prison trust account statements. (Doc. Nos. 8, 9.) Because Plaintiff seeks IFP status and because he is a prisoner seeking redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee of a governmental entity in this action, his Complaint is subject to initial screening to determine whether the Complaint, or any portion of it, is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii); 28 U.S.C § 1915A(b). When determining whether a plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under these screening statutes, courts use the Rule 12(b)(6) standard of review. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007); Atkinson v. Bohn, 91 F.3d 1127, 1128 (8th Cir. 1996). To survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, the plaintiff must file a complaint that contains "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotations omitted).

As discussed below, this Court recommends that Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Steve Hammer and Steve Hout be summarily dismissed for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff's Motion to Accept and Consider Defendants Steve Hammer and Steve Hout (Doc. No. 7) should also be denied based for the reasons stated below. This Court also recommends that Plaintiff's claim concerning the confiscation of a piece of prison mail he sent to another inmate should be dismissed because Plaintiff alleges no facts that would attribute the confiscation of that mail to any Defendant in this action.


In his Complaint, Plaintiff names three Defendants: (1) Steve Hammer ("Warden Hammer"), Warden of the Minnesota Correctional Facility located in Rush City ("MCF-Rush City"); (2) Steve Hout ("Director Hout"), the Director of Minnesota's Sex Offender Treatment Program; and (3) Jennifer Lynne Coolidge ("Director Coolidge"), the Director of Minnesota's Sex Offender Treatment Program at MCF-Rush City. (Doc. No. 1, Compl. 1, 4; id. at 8, ¶¶ 4-6.) Plaintiff brings his claims against these individuals for damages, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for violations of his constitutional rights. (Compl. 7, ¶ 1.) He also seeks injunctive relief against Director Coolidge, ordering her "to cease unlawful retaliation, [and] misusing and abusing her professional authority." (Compl. 16.)

Plaintiff alleges that when he asked certain questions and refused to speak out against another participant in a group therapy session, Director Coolidge retaliated against him by fabricating a disciplinary report and causing him to be placed in solitary confinement or segregated disciplinary detention. (Compl. 9, ¶¶ 10-15.) Plaintiff then pursued grievances against Director Coolidge relating to the allegedly falsified disciplinary report. (Id. at 10, ¶ 16.) As a result, Plaintiff asserts that he was transferred from MCF-Rush City to the Minnesota State Prison located in Stillwater. (Id. ¶ 17.) Once at the Stillwater prison, he pursued grievances with the Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy against Director Coolidge. (Id. ¶¶ 18-19; Doc. No. 2-1, Exs. C-E.) Further, Plaintiff asserts that Director Coolidge violated his rights by treating him differently than she treated other Caucasian inmates, whom he identifies by name. (Compl. 13, ¶ 31; id. at 14, ¶ 34; Doc. No. 5 at 24.)[1]

Ultimately, Plaintiff filed a grievance with Director Hout. (Compl. 10, ¶ 20; Doc. No. 2-1, Ex. G.) In the grievance he sent to Director Hout, Plaintiff complained that Director Coolidge had discriminated against him on the basis of race. (Doc. No. 2-1, Ex. G at 2.) Plaintiff alleges that Director Hout never responded to the grievance. (Compl. 12, ¶ 28; id. at 14, ¶ 33.)

Plaintiff also asserts that he attempted to send a letter to another inmate in the Sex Offender Treatment Program, in which he explained that Director Coolidge had him thrown out of the group therapy session because she could not deal with "African American culture, " and had him thrown in "seg [based on a] bogus report saying [that Plaintiff] was defiant in [his] behavior[, ]" but "staff" intercepted the letter and it never reached its intended recipient. (Compl. 10, ¶ 21; Doc. No. 2-1, Exs. H & I.)

Plaintiff asserts that he:

fell victim to the misuse and abuse of power and authority of defendant Jennifer Lynne Coolidge and was punished physically by being thrown in solitary confinement. Plaintiff has been irreparably injured by defendant Jennifer Lynne Coolidge's misuse and abuse of authority which has caused plaintiff Seenyur emotional distress, pain, suffering, and psychological injury.

(Compl. 11, ¶ 24.)

Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Warden Hammer "is legally responsible for the operation of the prison and the welfare of all the inmates of that prison[, and] [b]y disregarding the grievances attempted by plaintiff Seenyur and witnessing defendant Jennifer Coolidge's illegal actions, conduct and behavior, " he violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights. (Compl. 13-14, ¶ 32; see also id. at 15, ¶ 35.)

I. Claims Against Warden Hammer

In its November 24, 2014 Order requiring Plaintiff to file a new IFP application and pay the partial initial filing fee, the Court explained that the claims against Warden Hammer were unlikely to survive the initial screening because Plaintiff had failed to sufficiently allege Warden Hammer's personal involvement in the deprivation of any constitutional right. (Doc. No. 6 at 4 n.3.) Here, this Court concludes that the ...

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