United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Lamont Thomas, pro se
plaintiff Helen R. Brosnahan, Esq., and Jeffrey A. Timmerman,
Esq., Dakota County Attorney's Office, counsel for
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KATHERINE MENENDEZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter (“Thomas II”) is before the Court
on the Defendants' motion to dismiss, [Thomas
II, ECF No. 12], and the Plaintiff Desean Lamont
Thomas' motion for voluntary dismissal, [Thomas
II, ECF No. 35]. Because there was substantial overlap
between this action and another lawsuit Mr. Thomas filed in
2015 (Thomas v. Bzoskie, No. 15-cv-2197 (JRT/KMM)
(“Thomas I”)), the Court stayed this
litigation pending resolution of a motion for summary
judgment in the previous case. [Thomas II, Order,
ECF No. 25.] The Court instructed the parties to file
supplemental briefing upon resolution of the summary judgment
motion in Thomas I. [Id.] The District
Court has since granted summary judgment to the Defendants in
Thomas I, and the Defendants filed a supplemental
brief seeking dismissal of Mr. Thomas' claims in this
case with prejudice. [Thomas II, Defs.' Suppl.
Br., ECF No. 32.] For the reasons that follow, the Court
recommends that this action be dismissed with prejudice.
I and Thomas II are clearly related. They
involve many of the same defendants and both cases concern
Mr. Thomas' allegations that the Defendants prohibited
him from freely exercising his religion while he was confined
at the Dakota County Law Enforcement Center, though he has
since disavowed any connection to Islam.
pleadings in Thomas II, Mr. Thomas makes
the following allegations. He states that Pastor Bzoskie, the
volunteer chaplain working at the jail, prohibited Muslims at
the institution from having religious gatherings, prohibited
him from accessing Islamic worship materials and literature,
and denied him access to an Imam. [Thomas II, Compl.
¶¶ 3-6, 8, ECF No. 1-1; id., Am. Compl.
¶¶ 8-13.] He also alleges that Pastor Bzoskie's
actions violated his equal protection rights. [Thomas
II, Compl. ¶ 7; id., Am. Compl. ¶
11.] Mr. Thomas made the same allegations against Pastor
Bzoskie in Thomas I. [See Thomas I, May 8,
2017 R&R at 2-3, ECF No. 198 (describing allegations in
Thomas makes similar allegations against other Dakota County
LEC employees he has named as Defendants. Lieutenant Verby
allegedly denied Mr. Thomas access to Islamic worship
materials and denied him access to Islamic literature.
[Thomas II, Am. Compl. ¶¶ 9, 13.]
Lieutenant Heart “contributed to the banning of Islamic
services and gatherings, ” and denied him access to
Islamic literature. [Id. ¶¶ 10, 13.]
Again, Mr. Thomas made the same allegations against these
Defendants in Thomas I. [See Thomas I, May
8, 2017 R&R at 2-3, ECF No. 198 (describing allegations
in the complaint).]
Mr. Thomas alleges that an unidentified Defendant referred to
as John Doe retaliated against him “for filing a
federal lawsuit against Defendants.” [Thomas
II, Am. Compl. ¶ 14.] On June 21, 2015, Mr. Thomas
alleges that John Doe confiscated his legal mail and did not
return his documents. [Id.] John Doe also allegedly
slammed Mr. Thomas' finger in a cell tray slot and
“[b]reached a Ramadan observance contract in June of
2015.” [Id. ¶¶ 15-16.] Long after
the deadline for amending the pleadings in Thomas I
had passed, and without showing good cause for the untimely
request, Mr. Thomas unsuccessfully sought leave to amend his
pleadings in Thomas I to assert his retaliation
claim against John Doe. [See Thomas I, Nov. 29, 2016
Order, ECF No. 170.]
Thomas I, this Court recommended that the
Defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted and
that Mr. Thomas' claims be dismissed. [Thomas I,
May 8, 2017 R&R, ECF No. 198.] The District Court adopted
the recommendation and granted the Defendants judgment as a
matter of law on Mr. Thomas' First Amendment free
exercise claims against Pastor Bzoskie and Lieutenant Heart
for allegedly preventing Mr. Thomas from gathering with other
Muslims in the jail. The Court also granted summary judgment
to Pastor Bzoskie and Lieutenant Verby on Mr. Thomas'
claim that they violated his free exercise rights by
preventing him from having access to Islamic worship
materials. And the District Court granted judgment as a
matter of law to Pastor Bzoskie and Lieutenant Verby on Mr.
Thomas' equal protection claim under the Fourteenth
Amendment for alleged differential treatment from followers
of other religions. [See generally Thomas I, Aug. 4,
2017 Order, ECF No. 204.] Finally, the Court rejected Mr.
Thomas' argument that the jail violated his
constitutional rights by preventing Islamic gatherings led by
an imam. [Id. at 3-4.]
Defendants seek dismissal of the free-exercise,
equal-protection, and mail-based retaliation claims asserted
in Thomas II on the basis of res judicata.
[Thomas II, Defs.' Supp. Br. at 6-10.] They also
argue that Mr. Thomas' retaliation claim against John
Doe, which concerns having his finger slammed in a cell tray
slot, fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted.
[Id. at 10-11.] And, if the Court chooses to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over any remaining state
law claims, the Defendants argue that Mr. Thomas'
fiduciary duty claim, his breach of contract claim, and his
statutory “tort” claims should all be dismissed
for failure to state a claim. [Id. at 11-13.]
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint
must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 571 (2007). Although a complaint
need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ”
it must contain facts with enough specificity “to raise
a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Id. at 545. This standard “calls for enough
fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will
reveal evidence of [the claim].” Id. at 556.
The Court assumes all facts in the complaint to be true and
construes all reasonable inferences from those facts in the
light most favorable to the complainant. Morton v.
Becker, 793 F.3d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1986). However, the
Court need not accept as true wholly conclusory allegations,
Hanten v. Sch. Dist. of Riverview Gardens, 183 F.3d
799, 805 (8th Cir.1999), or legal conclusions drawn by the
pleader from the facts alleged, Westcott v. City of
Omaha, 901 F.2d 1486, 1488 (8th Cir.1990).
complaint may be dismissed based on the affirmative defense
of res judicata if “‘the facts that establish the
defense [are] definitively ascertainable from the allegations
in the complaint, the documents (if any) incorporated
therein, matters of public record, and other matters of which
the court may take judicial notice.'” Baratto
v. Citizens Auto. Fin., Inc., No. 11-cv-105, 2011 WL
3678676, at *2 (D. Minn. Aug.1, 2011) (quoting Rabo
Agrifinance, Inc. v. Wachovia Capital Fin. Corp., No.
10-cv-983, 2011 WL 601157, at *2 (D. Minn. Feb. 11, 2011)).
Res Judicata - Free Exercise and Equal Protection
Supreme Court has explained the applicability of the
doctrines prohibiting relitigation of issues ...