United States District Court, D. Minnesota
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. Magnuson United States District Court Judge
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Anmarie Calgaro's
Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants St. Louis
County's and Linnea Mirsch's Motions for Judgment on
the Pleadings and Summary Judgment, and Defendants Park
Nicollet Health Services', Fairview Health Services',
St. Louis County School District's, Michael
Johnson's, and E.J.K.'s Motions to Dismiss. For the
following reasons, Defendants' Motions are granted and
Calgaro's Motion is denied.
is a 17-year-old transgender youth who identifies as female.
(Compl. (Docket No. 1) ¶¶ 18, 32, 104, Ex. C.) She
will turn 18 in less than two months. (Id. ¶
3.) Calgaro is E.J.K.'s biological mother and has sole
physical and joint legal custody of E.J.K. (Id.
¶¶ 3, 44.)
in 2015, E.J.K. moved out of Calgaro's home in St. Louis
County, Minnesota and moved in with her biological father in
St. Cloud. (Id. ¶¶ 3, 53.) Shortly
thereafter, E.J.K. moved out of her father's home and
began living with various family and friends. (Id.
¶ 53.) Since moving out of her father's home, E.J.K.
has refused to move back in with Calgaro. (Id.)
Calgaro claims that she has always offered a home to E.J.K.
(Id. ¶ 50.)
currently lives on her own in St. Louis County. (Id.
¶ 18.) She attends the Cherry School in the St. Louis
County School District (the “School District”)
and enrolled herself in post-secondary educational
opportunities at a local college. (Id. ¶ 14.)
On June 29, 2015, E.J.K. consulted a lawyer with
Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid who provided her with a letter that
concluded she was legally emancipated under Minnesota law.
(Compl. Ex. A.) E.J.K. has never obtained a court order of
emancipation. (Id. ¶ 38.)
before January 15, 2016, Park Nicollet and Fairview began
providing E.J.K. with medical treatment for a gender
transition to the female gender. (Id. ¶¶
10, 12, Ex. C.) Calgaro alleges that St. Louis County is
providing E.J.K. with general government assistance and
paying for these medical services. (Id. ¶¶
54, 102.) Sometime in 2016, Calgaro requested that Fairview
and Park Nicollet provide her with E.J.K.'s medical
records, but they refused. (Compl. ¶¶ 113, 114,
118.) Also in 2016, Calgaro requested that the School
District allow her to participate in E.J.K.'s educational
decisions and to have access to E.J.K.'s educational
records, but the School District refused. (Id.
¶¶ 134, 135.)
November 16, 2016, Calgaro filed this lawsuit against seven
Defendants: (1) St. Louis County; (2) Linnea Mirsch,
individually and in her official capacity as Interim Director
of St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services; (3)
Fairview; (4) Park Nicollet; (5) the School District; (6)
Michael Johnson, individually and in his official capacity as
Principal of the Cherry School (“Principal
Johnson”); and (7) E.J.K. (collectively,
“Defendants”). Calgaro is suing Defendants under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 for allegedly violating her Fourteenth
Amendment procedural due process rights. Calgaro alleges that
Defendants terminated her constitutionally protected parental
rights without due process by determining E.J.K. emancipated
without notifying her, providing E.J.K. with medical services
and government assistance without Calgaro's consent, and
refusing to provide Calgaro with E.J.K.'s medical,
governmental, and educational records.
days after filing a Complaint, Calgaro filed her Motion for
Summary Judgment. Park Nicollet, Fairview, the School
District, Principal Johnson, and E.J.K. each subsequently
filed Motions to Dismiss. St. Louis County and Mirsch also
filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and a Motion for
Motions to Dismiss and the Motion for Judgment on the
survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a
complaint “must contain 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) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see
also Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A claim bears facial
plausibility when it allows the Court “to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. When evaluating a
motion to dismiss, the Court must accept factual allegations
as true, Gomez v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 676 F.3d
655, 660 (8th Cir. 2012), but it need not give effect to
those that simply assert legal conclusions, McAdams v.
McCord, 584 F.3d 1111, 1113 (8th Cir. 2009).
“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, ” are
insufficient to support a claim. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678. The same standard that applies to a motion to dismiss
under Rule 12(b)(6) applies to a motion for judgment on the
pleadings under Rule 12(c). Haney v. Portfolio Recovery
Assocs., L.L.C., 837 F.3d 918, 924 (8th Cir. 2016) (per
her 229-paragraph Complaint, Calgaro repeatedly alleges that
Defendants “determined [E.J.K.] emancipated.”
(See, e.g., Compl. ¶ 138.) This allegation is
distracting for two reasons. First, Defendants legally cannot
emancipate E.J.K. In Minnesota, emancipation is an act of the
parent and need not be in writing or in express words. In
re Fiihr, 184 N.W.2d 22, 25 (Minn. 1971) (citation
omitted). “Whether a child has been emancipated must be
determined largely upon the peculiar facts and circumstances
of each case and is ordinarily a question for the
jury.” Id. Calgaro does not dispute this.
(See Compl. ¶ 40 (“Minnesota courts
recognize that [E.J.K.] as a minor child is not emancipated
until a state court decides the minor child [E.J.K.] is
emancipated.”).) Calgaro also admits that E.J.K. has
not obtained a court order of emancipation. (Id.
¶ 38.) Defendants therefore did not emancipate E.J.K.
and Calgaro continues to have sole physical and joint legal
custody of E.J.K. Second, even assuming Defendants determined
E.J.K. emancipated-as the Court must do at this stage of the
litigation-Defendants' emancipation determinations did
not terminate Calgaro's parental rights. Only a court
order can do so. Absent that, Calgaro's parental rights
over E.J.K. remain intact. The Court will therefore not
further entertain Calgaro's characterization of
Defendants' actions as “determining E.J.K.
emancipated, ” except when necessary to address one of
Calgaro's claims against St. Louis County.
Fairview and Park Nicollet
state a claim under § 1983, Calgaro must establish that
Fairview and Park Nicollet deprived her of a right secured by
the Constitution or laws of the United States and that the
deprivation was committed under color of state law. Am.
Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 49 (1999).
Calgaro alleges that Fairview and Park Nicollet deprived her
of her constitutionally protected parental rights without due
process by providing E.J.K. with medical services without
Calgaro's consent and refusing to provide Calgaro with
E.J.K.'s medical records. (Compl. ¶¶ 11, 13,
188, 197.) Fairview and Park Nicollet argue that they cannot
be held liable under § 1983 because they did not act
under color of state law. Fairview and Park Nicollet are
1983 secures most constitutional rights from infringement by
governments, not private parties.”
Crumpley-Patterson v. Trinity Lutheran Hosp., 388
F.3d 588, 590 (8th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). But private
parties may be held liable when they act under color of state
law. Id. (citation omitted). A private party acts
under color of state law when they are a “willful
participant in joint activity with the ...