United States District Court, D. Minnesota
DAVID LE ROY GAMBLE, JR., CYRUS P. GLADDEN, II, DAVID J. JANNETTA, JERRAD W. WAILAND, and CLARENCE A. WASHINGTON, Plaintiffs,
MINNESOTA STATE-OPERATED SERVICES, MINNESOTA STATE INDUSTRIES, MINNESOTA SEX OFFENDER PROGRAM, DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, STATE OF MINNESOTA, EMILY JOHNSON PIPER, SHELBY RICHARDSON, JOHN AND JANE DOES 1-20, LUCINDA JESSON, DENNIS BENSON, NANCY A. JOHNSTON, SHIRLEY JACOBSON, and CHARLIE HOFFMAN, Defendants.
Le Roy Gamble, Jr., Jerrad W. Wailand, and Clarence A.
Washington, St. Peter Regional Treatment Center, Cyrus P.
Gladden, II and David J. Jannetta, pro se plaintiffs.
Kathryn I. Landrum, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON REPORT AND
R. TUNHEIM Chief Judge
individuals currently in the custody of the Minnesota Sex
Offender Program (“MSOP”) and participating in
MSOP's “Patient Pay Program” (“the
Program”) brought this action against numerous
state-entity and individual Defendants, asserting claims for
both statutory and constitutional violations related to the
Program. Defendants moved to dismiss all claims. Now before
the Court are Plaintiffs' and Defendants' objections
to the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of
United States Magistrate Judge Katherine M. Menendez on
Defendants' motion to dismiss. Because the Court will
find that Plaintiffs state a plausible claim under the Fair
Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) but not a procedural
due-process claim under the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court
will sustain in part and overrule in part the objections.
Accordingly, the Court will adopt in part and reject in part
the R&R, and grant in part and deny in part
Defendants' motion to dismiss.
are five individuals civilly confined by the state of
Minnesota pursuant to the MSOP. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1,
12-16, June 14, 2017, Docket No. 79.) Plaintiffs voluntarily
participate in the Patient Pay Program - an MSOP-administered
vocational work program for detainees. (Id.
¶¶ 12-16, 94.) To be admitted into the Program,
volunteers must complete a W-9 form and indicate on it that
they are independent contractors. (Id. ¶¶
119-121.) Until recently, MSOP required volunteers to perform
two hours of unpaid work “as a pre-condition of being
hired.” (Id. ¶ 116.) Plaintiffs allege
that, in administering the Program, “MSOP exercises
sole control over all aspects of the work
relationship.” (Id. ¶ 57(o).) For
example, Plaintiffs allege that MSOP dictates workers'
hours, furnishes all required tools and materials, and
“specifies the exact duties to be performed.”
(Id. ¶ 57.) MSOP allegedly does not provide
many of Plaintiffs' “basic needs.”
(Id. ¶ 72.) For example, Plaintiffs allege that
they must purchase clothes (including work clothes), shoes,
medical care, and medical supplies and devices. (Id.
¶ 72.) Plaintiffs also allege that all MSOP detainees -
irrespective of their participation in the Program - must
repay the state for the cost of their care according to their
ability to pay. (Id. ¶ 75; see Minn.
Stat. § 246B.07.) Accordingly, MSOP detainees receive
monthly bills for the cost of their commitment. (Am. Compl.
originally set the gross wages of the Program's workers
at the state-mandated minimum, according to the Amended
Complaint. (Id. ¶ 95.) In September 2009,
however, MSOP allegedly began to withhold up to fifty percent
of workers' wages (See Am. Compl. ¶¶
95-105) pursuant to a state law that gives the Commissioner
of the Minnesota Department of Human Services “the
authority to retain up to 50 percent of any payments made to
an individual participating in the vocational work program
for the purpose of reducing state costs associated with
operating the Minnesota sex offender program.” Minn.
Stat. § 246B.06 subd. 6. Plaintiffs allege that MSOP
uses the withheld wages to help defray losses from the
operation of MSOP's “industry shops.”
(Id. ¶¶ 96, 98.) Plaintiffs further allege
that MSOP has continued to withhold fifty percent of
Plaintiffs' wages, that the withholding is a
“permanent confiscation, ” and that their
withheld wages are not credited toward their obligation to
reimburse the state for the cost of their care. (Id.
¶¶ 76, 95, 102.)
filed this action in August 2016 against several state-entity
and individual defendants. (See Compl., Aug. 12,
2016, Docket No. 1; Am. Compl. ¶¶ 17-32; R&R at
2 & n.2, July 5, 2017, Docket No. 80.) Plaintiffs assert
claims for violations of the FLSA and the Rehabilitation Act,
along with claims for violations of their Thirteenth and
Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Am. Compl. ¶¶
125-154; see R&R at 4-5.) Defendants moved under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) to dismiss all claims for
lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and for failure to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Mot. to Dismiss,
Dec. 22, 2016, Docket No. 38.) The magistrate judge submitted
an R&R on Defendants' motion, recommending that the
Court (1) deny Defendants' motion with respect to both
Plaintiffs' FLSA claim against the state-entity
defendants and Plaintiffs' procedural due-process claim
seeking prospective injunctive relief against the individual
defendants in their official capacities; and (2) grant
Defendants' motion to dismiss all other claims, for
reasons including sovereign immunity, qualified immunity,
mootness, and failure to state a claim. (R&R at 4-5.)
Plaintiffs and Defendants both filed objections to the
R&R. (Defs.' Obj. to R&R, July 19, 2017, Docket
No. 81; Pls.' Obj. to R&R, Aug. 4, 2017, Docket No.
94.) The Court will deny Defendants' motion with respect
to Plaintiffs' FLSA claim, but grant Defendants'
motion to dismiss with respect to all other claims.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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
report and recommendation 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 novo a “properly objected to” portion of an
R&R. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); accord D. Minn. LR
72.2(b)(3). “Objections which are not specific but
merely repeat arguments presented to and considered by a
magistrate judge are not entitled to de novo review, but
rather are reviewed for clear error.” Montgomery v.
Compass Airlines, LLC, 98 F.Supp.3d 1012, 1017 (D. Minn.
reviewing a motion to dismiss brought under Rule 12(b)(6),
the Court considers all facts alleged in the complaint as
true to determine if the complaint states a claim for
“relief that is plausible on its face.”
Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594
(8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). To survive a motion to
dismiss, a complaint must provide more than
“‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). Although the Court accepts the complaint's
factual allegations as true, it is “not bound to accept
as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting
Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
DEFENDANTS' OBJECTIONS TO THE R&R
object to the R&R to the extent that the magistrate judge
found that Plaintiffs plausibly stated under Rule 12(b)(6)
both an FLSA claim and a procedural due-process claim. The
Court will overrule Defendants' objections with respect
to Plaintiffs' FLSA claim. The Court will sustain
Defendants' objections with respect to Plaintiffs'
procedural due-process claim.
Plaintiffs' FLSA Claim
FLSA affords employees a minimum wage. 28 U.S.C. §§
206, 207, 214, 215. In determining whether a plaintiff is an
“employee” under the FLSA, courts evaluate the
“economic reality” of the parties'
relationship based on the totality of the circumstances.
Barnett v. Young Men's Christian Ass'n,
Inc., No. 98-3625, 1999 WL 110547, at *1
(8thCir. Mar. 4, 1999); see Karlson v. Action
Process Serv. & Private Investigations, LLC, 860
F.3d 1089, 1092 (8th Cir. 2017). The fact that an
employer does not provide an employee her “basic
needs” weighs in favor of finding an employer-employee
relationship; the employee needs a minimum wage to purchase
those basic needs. See 29 U.S.C. § 202(a);
Villarreal v. Woodham, 113 F.3d 202, 205-206
(11th Cir. 1997); cf. Cody v. Hillard,
599 F.Supp. 1025, 1048 (D.S.D. 1984), aff'd, 799
F.2d 447 (8th Cir. 1986), on reh'g,
830 F.2d 912 (8th Cir. 1987).
magistrate judge found that Plaintiffs plausibly allege that
they are employees. Defendants object, arguing that
Plaintiffs are not employees under the “economic
reality” test because the Magistrate's analysis of
whether Plaintiffs are afforded their basic needs is both
factually and legally incorrect.
de novo review, the Court will overrule Defendants objections
and adopt the R&R with respect to Plaintiffs' FLSA
claim. The Court, like the magistrate judge, finds that
Martin v. Benson properly analyzed the MSOP's
scheme and operation for evaluating a portion of the economic
reality of Program participants. 827 F.Supp.2d 1022 (D. Minn.
2011). But unlike the plaintiffs in Martin,
Plaintiffs here plausibly allege that MSOP does not provide
Plaintiffs their basic needs. One of the FLSA's statutory
purposes is to provide employees “the minimum standard
of living necessary for health, efficiency, and general
well-being.” 29 U.S.C. § 202(a); Miller v.
Dukakis, 961 F.2d 7, 9 (1st Cir. 1992)
(finding Massachusetts civil-detainees not employees under
the FLSA because they “are cared for . . . by the
state” in the same way that prisoners are). Plaintiffs
allege that they must pay for various items, such as work
clothing, shoes, medical care, and medical supplies and
devices. Moreover, MSOP detainees must repay the state for
the cost of their care according to their ability to pay,
suggesting that Defendants do not provide Plaintiffs'
basic needs. Minn. Stat. § 246B.07. Furthermore, MSOP
allegedly withholds some portion of Plaintiffs' wages to
help defray losses from the operation of MSOP's
“industry shops, ” not to help ...