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Graphenteen v. Balach

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

March 1, 2017

JOHN GRAPHENTEEN, Plaintiff,
v.
MILES R. BALACH and MARYJO K. FALES, in their individual and official capacities, and J. DOES 1-2, in their individual capacities, Defendants.

          Zorislav R. Leyderman, THE LAW OFFICE OF ZORISLAV R. LEYDERMAN, for plaintiff.

          Eric V. Brown, Assistant Attorney General, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, for defendants Miles R. Balach and Maryjo K. Fales.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          JOHN R. TUNHEIM Chief Judge

         The Minnesota Sex Offender Program (“MSOP”) currently treats Plaintiff John Graphenteen at its facility in Moose Lake, Minnesota. Graphenteen filed this action against Defendants Miles Balach, Maryjo Fales, and J. Does 1-2 - security officers and managers and MSOP - asserting claims for common-law negligence and violation of the Eighth Amendment, or alternatively, the Fourteenth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         Balach and Fales moved to dismiss all Graphenteen's claims. United States Magistrate Judge Franklin L. Noel issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) recommending the Court grant in part and deny in part the motion. Balach and Fales filed timely objections to the R&R. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will overrule the objections and adopt the R&R.

         BACKGROUND

         At age 17, a doctor amputated Graphenteen's left leg below the knee. (Am. Compl. ¶ 8, Jan. 21, 2016, Docket No. 30.) At the time relevant to this case, Graphenteen relied on a “very basic type [of prosthetic leg] which simply slipped over his stub.” (Id.) On December 9, 2009, Graphenteen had an appointment to see a dentist and MSOP assigned Balach and Fales, MSOP security officers, to transport Graphenteen. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 9.) Prior to departure for this appointment, Balach and Fales handcuffed Graphenteen and shackled Graphenteen's legs, including his prosthesis, together. (Id. ¶ 10.) The leg shackles made Graphenteen nervous because the sidewalks were very icy. (Id. ¶¶ 10-11.) At the time of the transport, MSOP Policy 301.090 (the “MSOP Policy”) required security officers to transport patients in full restraints “unless medical or physical limitations require[d] a reduction in restraints.” (Id. ¶ 21 (alteration in original).) Graphenteen requested to use a cane or wheelchair during transport, but Balach and Fales denied the request. (Id. ¶ 13). Graphenteen expressed concern that he might slip and fall, but Balach and Fales instructed Graphenteen to walk to the vehicle or forgo his dental appointment. (Id.) Graphenteen reached the vehicle without incident and attended his dental appointment. (Id.).

         The dentist put Graphenteen under local anesthesia and extracted six teeth. (Id. ¶ 14.) After the appointment, Balach and Fales transported Graphenteen back to MSOP where Graphenteen once again faced a visibly icy sidewalk. (Id. ¶¶ 15-16.) In addition to his concerns regarding the shackles on his leg and prosthetic, Graphenteen felt dizzy and lightheaded from the combination of local anesthesia and multiple tooth extractions. (Id. ¶ 15.) Graphenteen once again expressed safety concerns about attempting to walk on the ice while restrained and requested a wheelchair. (Id.) Balach told Graphenteen that his supervisors, named J. Does 1-2 in this action, had been informed of - and denied - the request for wheelchair. (Id.)

         Graphenteen subsequently exited the vehicle and, while attempting to walk into MSOP with Balach holding his jacket, Graphenteen slipped and fell on the ice. (Id. ¶¶ 17-18.) With his hands cuffed and shackled to his waist, Graphenteen had no way to break the fall and fell directly onto his face. (Id. ¶ 19.) The resulting injuries to Graphenteen included: two broken bones in his nose; cuts above his eye and on his nose which required stitches; and cuts elsewhere, which eventually became infected. (Id. ¶¶ 20, 22.) Graphenteen alleged he continues to suffer from these injuries and subsequent emotional distress. (Id. ¶ 22.)

         Graphenteen brought this action against Balach, Fales, and alleged supervisors J. Does 1-2. Graphenteen alleged violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment pursuant to section 1983 and common-law negligence. (Id. ¶ 23-28.) Balach and Fales moved to dismiss all Graphenteen's claims. The Magistrate Judge issued an R&R recommending the Court grant in part and deny in part the motion. The Magistrate Judge recommended the Court: (1) grant the motion to dismiss Graphenteen's negligence claim as time-barred; (2) grant the motion to dismiss Graphenteen's Eighth Amendment claim for failure to state a claim; and (3) deny the motion to dismiss Graphenteen's Fourteenth Amendment claim because, at this stage, Balach and Fales are not entitled to qualified immunity.

         Balach and Fales timely objected to the R&R, arguing the Magistrate Judge erred in finding they were not entitled to qualified immunity. Balach and Fales also requested the Court dismiss the claims against J. Does 1-2.

         DISCUSSION

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         After a magistrate judge files an R&R, a party may “file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2); accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(1). “The objections should specify the portions of the magistrate judge's [R&R] to which objections are made and provide a basis for those objections.” Mayer v. Walvatne, No. 07-1958, 2008 WL 4527774, at *2 (D. Minn. Sept. 28, 2008). For dispositive motions, the Court reviews de ...


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