United States District Court, D. Minnesota
ORDER ADOPTING IN PART AND REJECTING IN PART REPORT
Wilhelmina M. Wright United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on the July 28, 2017 Report and
Recommendation (R&R) of United States Magistrate Judge
Steven E. Rau. (Dkt. 65.) The R&R recommends granting the
motion to dismiss of Defendant 3M, granting the motion to
dismiss of Defendants Tom Roy—in both his official and
individual capacity— Minnesota Department of
Corrections, MINNCOR Industries, and all individual state
employees in their official capacities (collectively the
State Defendants). The R&R also recommends granting the
motion to dismiss of Defendant Terry Carlson in her
individual capacity, and permitting Plaintiff Bobby Earl
Jefferson, Jr., the opportunity to cure certain service
defects. Jefferson filed timely objections to the R&R,
and the State Defendants responded. Because Jefferson's
amended complaint states a plausible claim for relief against
Defendant Roy in his individual capacity, the Court rejects
the R&R's conclusion that the State Defendants'
motion to dismiss be granted on that basis. The Court adopts
the R&R's remaining recommendations.
the R&R provides a detailed factual and procedural
history, the Court briefly summarizes the background of this
litigation. Jefferson worked in the metal foundry while
incarcerated at the Minnesota Department of Corrections
facility in Stillwater, Minnesota (DOC-Stillwater), from
approximately June 1, 2015, to February 1, 2016. Jefferson
alleges that he was exposed to harmful toxins while working
at the metal foundry and that he suffered numerous physical
injuries. According to Jefferson, Defendants were aware of
the risk of exposure, conspired with one another to conceal
the exposure, and continued to expose foundry workers. On
September 21, 2016, Jefferson initiated this lawsuit under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants' actions
violated the Eighth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, and
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Jefferson seeks $1 million in damages. 3M, the State
Defendants, and Terry Carlson in her individual capacity move
to dismiss Jefferson's complaint for failure to state a
claim on which relief can be granted.
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must
allege sufficient facts, when accepted as true, that state a
facially plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The factual allegations
need not be detailed, but they must be sufficient to
“raise a right to relief above the speculative
level” in order to “state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007). When determining
whether a complaint states a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face, a district court accepts as true all
factual allegations in the complaint and draws all reasonable
inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Blankenship v.
USA Truck, Inc., 601 F.3d 852, 853 (8th Cir. 2010).
Jefferson's Objections to the R&R
objects to the R&R's recommendations that the Court
grant 3M's motion to dismiss and the motions to dismiss
of Defendants Roy and Carlson in their individual capacities.
The Court reviews these determinations 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), and addresses Jefferson's
objections in turn.
R&R recommends granting 3M's motion to dismiss
because Jefferson fails to plausibly allege that 3M is a
state actor. Jefferson objects, arguing that he alleges
“pervasive entwinement” [sic] between 3M and
state actors that is sufficient to sustain his constitutional
claims against 3M.
42 U.S.C. § 1983, private parties may be liable for
constitutional violations only when they willfully
participate in joint activities with a state or its agents.
See Youngblood v. Hy-Vee Food Stores, Inc., 266 F.3d
851, 855 (8th Cir. 2001). Without more, a contract between a
private entity and a state actor is insufficient to convert a
private entity's actions to those of a state actor.
See Rendell-Baker v. Kohn, 457 U.S. 830, 843 (1982).
Instead, a nexus must exist between the actions of the
private entity and the fulfillment of a traditional
government function. See, e.g., West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 54-57 (1988) (finding nexus in
circumstances in which private physician contracted to
provide prison inmates medical care).
even if 3M were aware of the allegedly harmful work
conditions at the metal foundry at DOC-Stillwater and
provided DOC-Stillwater with 3M respirators, Jefferson fails
to allege that 3M was responsible for, or had any authority
to address, the work conditions at DOC-Stillwater. Although
Jefferson alleges that 3M must have been aware of the harmful
conditions, Jefferson alleges no facts that create a
plausible nexus between 3M's actions and the fulfillment
of a traditional government function such that 3M bore any
responsibility for ensuring that DOC-Stillwater inmates
worked in a safe environment.
the Court overrules Jefferson's objection to this aspect
of the R&R and adopts the R&R's recommendation to
grant 3M's motion to dismiss.
Roy and Carlson in their ...