United States District Court, D. Minnesota
ORDER ADOPTING IN PART AND REJECTING IN PART REPORT
Wilhelmina M. Wright United States District Judge
lawsuit, Plaintiff Charles R. Stone challenges policies of
the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (“MSOP”) and
actions of the Defendants that restrict his and other MSOP
clients' possession of certain media items. Currently
before the Court is the July 15, 2016 Report and
Recommendation (“R&R”) of United States
Magistrate Judge Janie S. Mayeron,  (Dkt. 36), and the
parties' objections to the R&R, (Dkts. 41, 44). Also
before the Court is a motion filed by Stone after the R&R
was issued that seeks to prevent other MSOP clients from
filing documents in this lawsuit. (Dkt. 42.) For the reasons
addressed below, the parties' objections are overruled in
part and sustained in part, the R&R is adopted in part
and rejected in part, and Stone's motion to enjoin other
MSOP clients from filing documents in this case is denied.
who is civilly committed to MSOP in Moose Lake, commenced
this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against seven state
officials and MSOP employees individually and in their
official capacities. Defendants are Lucinda E. Jesson,
Minnesota Commissioner of Human Services; Dennis L. Benson,
Executive Director of MSOP; Thomas Lundquist, Clinical
Director of MSOP in Moose Lake, Minnesota; Greg Carlson,
Assistant Executive Director of MSOP; Kevin Moser, Program
Director of MSOP; David Prescott, former Clinical Director of
MSOP; and Robert D. Liggett, Media Review Team Supervisor of
MSOP. Stone's complaint asserts two counts against these
individuals. Count One alleges that Minn. Stat. §
246B.04, subd. 2, is unconstitutional, both facially and
as-applied to Stone. Count Two alleges that Defendants'
failure to apply MSOP's 2007 Media Policy (the
“Media Policy”) violates Stone's rights
guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the
United States Constitution. Stone also alleges that certain
MSOP employees have interfered with his right to access the
courts to redress violations of his constitutional rights.
allegations focus on Defendants' failure to apply the
Media Policy. Stone asserts that MSOP's Media Review Team
has erroneously categorized as “prohibited” under
the Media Policy certain media that should be permitted.
Stone also alleges that the Media Review Team reviews all
media arriving at MSOP and restricts the access of MSOP
clients to magazines and certain movies rated “G,
” “PG, ” and “PG-13, ” despite
a provision in the Media Policy that categorizes such movies
as “permitted” without being subject to
individual review. These procedures, Stone asserts, not only
are inconsistent with the Media Policy, but they also
impermissibly restrict MSOP clients' First Amendment
right to access materials that have been improperly
categorized as prohibited.
moved to dismiss Stone's complaint and advanced several
arguments, including that Defendants Jesson and Prescott were
not properly served, that Defendants are entitled to Eleventh
Amendment immunity from Stone's claims for damages
against them in their official capacities and qualified
immunity from his claims against them in their individual
capacities. Defendants also argue that Stone's
allegations fail to state a claim on which relief can be
granted as to any legal theory asserted in the complaint.
subsequently filed two additional motions that are unrelated
to the merits of his complaint. Stone's motion for a
permanent injunction seeks to enjoin Defendants from
tampering with, holding, opening or investigating Stone's
mail pertaining to his legal proceedings. That motion also
seeks to enjoin Defendants from retaliating against Stone for
initiating this lawsuit. And in his “Motion to Dismiss
Defendant's [sic] [M]otion to Dismiss, ” Stone
argues that the Court should strike Defendants' motion to
dismiss because Defendants had not timely served Stone with
their motion papers. Stone characterizes Defendants' act
of filing their motion to dismiss without serving him as an
ex parte communication with the Court.
States Magistrate Judge Janie S. Mayeron issued an R&R on
July 15, 2016. The R&R recommends dismissing most of
Stone's claims without prejudice. However, the R&R
concludes that Stone's Section 1983 claims against
Defendants Liggett and Moser for violating Stone's First
Amendment rights should be permitted to proceed. The R&R
also recommends denying Stone's motion for a permanent
injunction and motion to dismiss Defendants' motion to
parties filed objections. Defendants object to the R&R to
the extent it recommends that Stone's Section 1983 claims
based on the First Amendment should be permitted to proceed
against Liggett and Moser and concludes that Liggett and
Moser are not entitled to qualified immunity. Stone's
objections track the structure of the R&R and address
each section of its analysis, but Stone concedes that several
of the R&R's conclusions are correct. Although in
many respects Stone's arguments are difficult to follow,
he clearly objects to two of the R&R's conclusions:
(1) that his claims for prospective injunctive relief against
Defendants in their official capacities should be dismissed
and (2) that the complaint fails to state a claim for
violation of his due process rights under the Fourteenth
the R&R was issued, Stone also has filed a “Motion
to Enjoin Other Parties from [Filing] on Suit Without First
Obtaining Permission from Court or from Plaintiff Charles R.
Stone Exclusively.” In that motion, Stone seeks an
order prohibiting other MSOP clients from filing motions or
other documents in this case because, Stone asserts, other
MSOP clients are conspiring to dissuade him from pursuing
this litigation or are seeking to maintain this lawsuit under
their own names.
Defendants' Objections to the R&R
objections to the R&R are twofold. First, Defendants
object to the recommendation to deny their motion to dismiss
as to Stone's claims against Liggett and Moser both in
their official capacities for prospective injunctive relief
and in their individual capacities. Second, Defendants object
to the recommendation to conclude that Liggett and Moser are
not entitled to qualified immunity. The Court reviews each
legal issue de novo. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); LR 72.2(b)(3); Grinder v.
Gammon, 73 F.3d 793, 795 (8th Cir. 1996) (per curiam).
First Amendment Claims Against Defendants Liggett and
R&R concludes that Stone's allegations are sufficient
to state a Section 1983 claim that his First Amendment rights
are being violated by Defendants Liggett and Moser and
Defendants have not established as a matter of law that their
actions through MSOP are consistent with the First Amendment.
state a claim for relief under Section 1983, a plaintiff must
allege “(1) that the defendant acted under color of
state law, and (2) that the alleged conduct deprived the
plaintiff of a constitutionally protected federal
right.” Van Zee v. Hanson, 630 F.3d 1126, 1128
(8th Cir. 2011). Here, because Defendants do not dispute that
their actions at MSOP are taken under color of state law, the
only question is whether Defendants' alleged conduct in
restricting Stone's access to certain media deprives
Stone of a constitutionally protected federal right. Stone
alleges that Defendants have “prohibit[ed] protected
speech” by failing to properly apply the Media Policy.
right of freedom of speech ‘includes not only the right
to utter or to print, but the right to distribute, the right
to receive, the right to read' as well as ‘freedom
of inquiry' and ‘freedom of thought.' ”
Karsjens v. Jesson, 6 F.Supp.3d 916, 938-39 (D.
Minn. 2014) (quoting Griswold v. Connecticut, 381
U.S. 479, 482 (1965)). Civilly committed individuals have
liberty interests that are “considerably less than
those held by members of free society, ” but they are
nonetheless “entitled to more considerate treatment and
conditions of confinement” than prisoners.
Senty-Haugen v. Goodno, 462 F.3d 876, 886 (8th Cir.
2006) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Revels
v. Vincenz, 382 F.3d 870, 874 (8th Cir. 2004)
(“Although an involuntarily committed patient of a
state hospital is not a prisoner per se, his confinement is
subject to the same safety and security concerns as that of a
prisoner.”). In Turner v. Safley, the Supreme
Court of the United States explained that “when a
prison regulation impinges on inmates' constitutional
rights, the regulation is valid if it is reasonably related
to legitimate penological interests.” 482 U.S. 78, 89
addressing the constitutionality of limitations placed on the
rights of MSOP patients, courts in this District have
employed a modified Turner analysis. See
Karsjens, 6 F.Supp.3d at 937 (evaluating MSOP
patient's First Amendment claims “in light of
appropriate therapeutic interests as well as relevant safety
and security concerns”); Ivey v. Mooney, No.
05-2666, 2008 WL 4527792, at *5 (D. Minn. Sept. 30, 2008)
(approving application of Turner factors to
determine whether the Media Policy “is reasonably
related to legitimate institutional and therapeutic
interests”). To determine whether a restriction on MSOP
patients' liberty is constitutional, four Turner
factors are considered:
(1) whether there is a valid rational connection between the
regulation and the legitimate government interest it purports
to further; (2) whether the inmate has an alternative means
of exercising his constitutional right; (3) the impact that
accommodation of the inmate's right would have upon
others, including inmates as well as non-inmates; and (4) the
absence of a ready alternative to the regulation.
Ivey, 2008 WL 4527792, at *5 (quoting Ortiz v.
Fort Dodge Corr. Facility, 368 F.3d 1024, 1026 (8th Cir.
2004)). It is the plaintiff's burden to prove that a
restriction is not reasonably related to the legitimate
interest it purports to further. See Abdullah v.
Gunter, 949 F.2d 1032, 1035 (8th Cir. 1991) (applying
magistrate judge concluded that the record at this stage does
not support a determination that Stone's claims fail as a
matter of law under the Turner test. Defendants
object to this aspect of the R&R's analysis, arguing
that the magistrate judge “incorrectly interprets the
Rule 12(b)(6) standard as requiring factual information
sufficient to support an ultimate holding in Defendants'
favor.” It is true that the R&R misstates the Rule
12(b)(6) legal standard when stating that “there are
fact disputes about the very essence of plaintiff's
claims.” This is the summary judgment standard rather
than the motion to dismiss standard. But the Court agrees
with the magistrate judge's conclusion that Stone's
allegations are sufficient to state a claim that his First
Amendment rights are being violated.
has stated a claim for relief as to whether Defendants'
implementation of the Media Policy restricts MSOP
patients' rights to access certain media in a manner that
can pass constitutional muster. To prevail on the merits,
Stone must present evidence and legal argument that
demonstrate that Defendants' restrictions on his access
to media materials are inconsistent with the Turner
test described above. But Stone's allegations that
Defendants' conduct impermissibly restricts his First
Amendment rights are sufficient to state a claim for relief
under Section 1983 and survive a motion to dismiss.
rely heavily on Banks v. Jesson, in which the court
addressed a plaintiff's Section 1983 claim that
MSOP's confiscation of certain media items violated his
First Amendment rights. No. 11-cv-1706, 2016 WL 3566207 (D.
Minn. June 27, 2016). But the procedural posture of the
Banks decision offers a meaningful distinction.
Because Banks was at the summary judgment stage, the
court had a fully developed record on which to assess
Banks' claims. Here, the magistrate judge expressly-and
correctly-distinguished Banks, ...