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Hazley v. Roy

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

November 2, 2017

Glenn Kevin Hazley, Plaintiff,
Tom Roy, and Becky Dooley, Defendants.

          Glenn Kevin Hazley, (pro se Plaintiff)

          Steven Forrest and Kelly S. Kemp, Assistant State Attorneys General, Minnesota Attorney General's Office, (for Defendants).


          Tony N. Leung United States Magistrate Judge


         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 13) and Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed With Complaint (ECF No. 23) and Motion to Amend Complaint (ECF No. 26). These motions have been referred to the undersigned for a report and recommendation to the district court, the Honorable Susan Richard Nelson, District Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, under 28 U.S.C. § 636 and D. Minn. LR 72.1.

         II. BACKGROUND[1]

         By Amended Complaint, [2] Plaintiff brings the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of his constitutional rights against Defendant Tom Roy, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, and Defendant Becky Dooley, Warden of the Minnesota Correctional Facility located in Moose Lake, Minnesota (“MCF - Moose Lake”). (Am. Compl., ECF No. 7.)

         A. Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that he was “denied an opportunity to bail out from jail” after his sentence for third-degree burglary was overturned by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. See State v. Hazley, No. A15-1418, 2016 WL 953051 (Minn.Ct.App. Mar. 14, 2016). (Am. Compl. at 5.[3]) Plaintiff alleges that MCF - Moose Lake purposefully prevented the transfer of funds from his inmate account at MCF - Moose Lake for payment of the bail set by the state district court. (Am. Compl. at 4.) As a result, Petitioner alleges that he “was held illegally until the day of [his] trial.” (Am. Compl. at 4.) Plaintiff brings this action against Warden Dooley “because she was in charge of [his] custody as acting Warden at MCF - Moose Lake at the time of the incident” and Commissioner Roy because “he is the boss of . . . [Warden] Dooley and as well in charge of [his] custody as stated by law in M[innesota].” (Am. Compl. at 5.) Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and a jury trial. (Am. Compl. at 5.)

         Incorporated by reference to the Amended Complaint were “grievance related documents” Plaintiff filed with his initial Complaint. (Am. Compl. at 3.) The documents consist of: (1) a conditional release order issued by a state district court judge in Hennepin County, Minnesota, setting bail in the amount of $8, 000 or a cash alternative of $800, [4] ECF No. 1-5 at 11; (2) a memo to Plaintiff from an MCF - Moose Lake employee, ECF No. 1-5 at 12; (3) a May 10, 2016 kite from Plaintiff to “Inmates Accounts, ” inquiring how to pay his bail from his inmate account, which was answered by “I/m Accts, ” ECF No. 1-5 at 3; (4) a May 12, 2016 kite from Plaintiff to “Inmate Accounts” providing “the requested documents” for transfer of funds to Hennepin County with a response from “I/m Accts” on May 13, 2016, stating that request was processed that day, ECF No. 1-5 at 2; (5) an inmate trust account receipts and disbursements record for May 13, 2016, showing a transaction in the amount of $800 for “Hennepin County Criminal Court, ” ECF No. 1-5 at 1; (6) two kites from May 12, 2016 from Plaintiff to “Records, ” asking how long it will take for him to be released following the Minnesota Court of Appeals' decision, answered by “D Koecher” and “Jackie B, ” ECF No. 1-5 at 13-14; (7) a Hennepin County inmate grievance form completed by Plaintiff on June 16, 2016, regarding his “bail check, ” ECF No. 1-5 at 4; (8) a letter from Plaintiff to the state district court judge dated June 19, 2016, stating that he paid the $800 bail but has not yet been released and has been unable to get any answers, ECF No. 1-5 at 9-10; (9) a letter from Plaintiff to the inmate accounts department at MCF - Moose Lake dated June 21, 2016, asking that MCF - Moose Lake stop payment on the prior check and send the funds to Plaintiff directly at a forwarding address, ECF No. 1-5 at 6; (10) a letter from Plaintiff dated June 23, 2016, to “DOC Inspection & Enforcement Unit, ” seeking help regarding the status of his funds, ECF No. 1-5 at 7-8; (11) a Hennepin County inmate grievance form completed by Plaintiff on July 2, 2016, seeking contact information for supervisory employees in order to address the problems with his bail check, ECF No. 1-5 at 5; and (12) a request from Plaintiff to “Records Dept/Henn. Cty. Jail, ” dated October 25, 2016, for copies of his mental-health records from May through July 2016, ECF No. 1-5 at 16.

         B. “Motion to Proceed with Complaint”

         In response to Defendants' motion to dismiss, Plaintiff filed a “Motion to Proceed with Complaint” along with a supporting memorandum. The Court has construed these documents as Plaintiff's opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss. Plaintiff's opposition contains additional facts regarding the events in question. As stated in Section III.B infra, the Court has considered these allegations in its analysis and will discuss them in greater detail where relevant.

         C. Motion to Amend

         In response to Defendants' motion to dismiss, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his Amended Complaint. In his motion to amend, Plaintiff requests to amend the Amended Complaint to (1) indicate that he is bringing claims against Commissioner Roy and Warden Dooley in both their individual and official capacities, and (2) add Kristi Cisar, an employee at MCF - Moose Lake, as a defendant in both her individual and official capacities. (Pl.'s Mot. to Am. at 1-2, ECF No. 46.) In the memorandum in support of his motion to amend, Plaintiff asserts that the capacity in which Commissioner Roy and Warden Dooley were being sued was not clear in his prior pleadings and, subsequent to the filing of his Amended Complaint, he received Cisar's name in response to a kite request. (Pl.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Am. at 1-2, ECF No. 27.) Plaintiff's motion and memorandum further state that “Cisar works in . . . the inmate accounts dept at MCF - Moose Lake, ” (Pl.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Am. at 1-2), and “was the contact person at MCF - Moose Lake through this whole ordeal and was in direct contact with [his] lawyer and family members in attempts to retrieve [his] bail money, ” (Pl.'s Mot. to Am. at 2).

         Along with his motion to amend, Plaintiff submitted a Proposed Second Amended Complaint.[5] (Prop. Second Am. Compl., ECF No. 26-1.) The Proposed Second Amended Complaint lists Commissioner Roy, Warden Dooley, and Cisar as defendants, but does not specify the capacity in which they are being sued. (See Prop. Second Am. Compl. at 1, 2.) In addition to alleged violations of his constitutional rights, the Proposed Second Amended Complaint also appears to be raising a claim for false imprisonment under state law. (Prop. Second Am. Compl. at 3, 4.)

         In total, the factual allegations contained in the Proposed Second Amended Complaint are as follows:

I am filing this claim against the listed defendants for civil rights violations. My Fifth/Fourteenth Amendments [sic] rights for due process are in violation by the listed defends. [sic] which in turn lead [sic] me to be falsely imprisoned by the MN DOC. I was denied my bail money returned to me after posting bond. The defendant [sic] were directly at fault for this. I sent out 800.00 from my inmate account to post bail while housed at the DOC - Moose Lake Facility and was not released as the [state district court] allowed me to do upon reversal of my conviction. MN DOC and listed defendants conduct was willful, malicious, reckless and outrageous. Due to the defendants [sic] acts, I was not only held illegally, I also suffered mentally due to their actions. I have documents that will prove my complaint and ask the courts to here [sic] my complaint and proceed with a jury trial as I've requested.

(Prop. Second Am. Compl. at 4.) Plaintiff also checked a box indicating that exhibits were attached to the Proposed Second Amended Complaint, stating “Attached Exhibits (2, 3, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14).” (Prop. Second Am. Compl. at 4.) There were, however, no exhibits included with the Proposed Second Amended Complaint. Similar to the Amended Complaint, the Proposed Second Amended Complaint seeks only damages, “monetary and punitive relief in the amount of [$]50, 000.00.” (Prop. Second Am. Compl. at 4.)

         III. ANALYSIS

         Defendants move to dismiss this matter pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and oppose Plaintiff's motion to amend on grounds that it is procedurally improper and the proposed amendments are futile.

         A. Legal Standard

         “To withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Smithrud v. City of St. Paul, 746 F.3d 391, 397 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007)). “[A]lthough 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.'” United States ex rel. Raynor v. Nat'l Rural Utils. Coop. Fin., Corp., 690 F.3d 951, 955 (8th Cir. 2012) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.”). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Similarly, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. “In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court assumes all facts in the complaint to be true and construes all reasonable inferences most favorably to the complainant.” Raynor, 690 F.3d at 955.

         “In evaluating whether a pro se plaintiff has asserted sufficient facts to state a claim, [courts] hold a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 541 (8th Cir. 2014) (quotation omitted). But, “[a]lthough pro se complaints are to be construed liberally, ‘they still must allege sufficient facts to support the claims advanced.'” Stringer v. St. James R-1 Sch. Dist., 446 F.3d 799, 802 (8th Cir. 2006) (quoting Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004)). As the Eighth Circuit has explained, “[w]hen we say that a pro se complaint should be given liberal construction, we mean that if the essence of an allegation is discernible, even though it is not pleaded with legal nicety, then the district court should construe the complaint in a way that permits the layperson's claim to be considered within the proper legal framework.” Stone, 364 F.3d at 915.

         B. The “Complaint”

         There is no single pleading containing all of the factual allegations purportedly underlying Plaintiff's claims. Rather, the Court has given Plaintiff the greatest benefit of the doubt by cobbling together factual allegations and other pieces of relevant information from the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff's motion to amend, the Proposed Second Amended Complaint, and Plaintiff's opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss.

         Plaintiff has filed a number of exhibits along with his submissions. (See ECF Nos. 25, 25-1, 25-2, 25-3, 32-1 at 1-5, 35.) These exhibits appear to be documentary evidence Plaintiff believes support his claims. With one exception discussed below, the Court has not considered these exhibits. When evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court assumes the facts in the complaint to be true and construes all reasonable inferences from those facts in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff. Martin, 752 F.3d at 727. In addition, “the court generally must ignore materials outside the pleadings.” Porous Media Corp. v. Pall Corp., 186 F.3d 1077, 1079 (8th Cir. 1999). Ordinarily, if the parties present, and the court considers, matters outside of the pleadings, the motion must be treated as a motion for summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). The Court, however, may consider exhibits attached to the complaint and documents that are necessarily embraced by the complaint without converting the motion into one for summary judgment. Mattes v. ABC Plastics, Inc., 323 F.3d 695, 697 n.4 (8th Cir. 2003). “[T]he court has complete discretion to determine whether or not to accept any material beyond the pleadings that is offered in conjunction with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.” Stahl v. United States Dep't of Agric., 327 F.3d 697, 701 (8th Cir. 2003) (quotation omitted).

         Some of the exhibits included with Plaintiff's opposition to the motion to dismiss are duplicative of the prior exhibits listed above that were attached to the initial Complaint and incorporated by reference into the Amended Complaint.[6] These exhibits will be considered as embraced by the Amended Complaint. The Court exercises its discretion, however, not to consider the remaining exhibits accompanying Plaintiff's submissions because such exhibits are not embraced by the Amended Complaint.[7]Although this Court liberally construes pro se complaints, “the court may not assume the role of advocate for the pro se litigant.” Zelenak v. Larson, No. 15-cv-3315 (PJS/TNL), 2016 WL 6584926, at *6 (D. Minn. Oct. 6, 2016) (quotation omitted), adopting report and recommendation, 2016 WL 6584910 (D. Minn. Nov. 4, 2016). Any other approach would essentially result in the Court sifting through Plaintiff's exhibits and guessing at how they relate to Plaintiff's allegations. See Id. (“[I]t is not the Court's function to sift through Plaintiff's voluminous papers and essentially craft a complaint-factual allegations and bases for recovery-for her.”).

         C. ...

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