United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Herbert Pitts, (pro se Plaintiff);
B. Roche, Assistant County Attorney, Ramsey County
Attorney's Office, (for Defendant Ramsey County); and
Portia M. Hampton-Flowers, Deputy City Attorney, St. Paul
City Attorney's Office, (for Defendant St. Paul Police
N. Leung United States Magistrate Judge.
REPORT & RECOMMENDATION
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Ramsey
County's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 15) and Defendant St.
Paul Police Department's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 19)
(collectively, “Defendants”). Plaintiff proceeds
pro se. Assistant County Attorney Robert B. Roche represents
Ramsey County. Deputy City Attorney Portia M. Hampton-Flowers
represents the St. Paul Police Department. This matter has
been referred to the undersigned for a Report and
Recommendation to the Honorable Michael J. Davis, District
Judge for the United States District Court for the District
of Minnesota, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and D. Minn.
LR 72.1. For the reasons that follow, this Court recommends
that Defendants' motions be granted.
Plaintiff's documents the most generous construction,
Plaintiff brings the instant action against Defendants
alleging excessive force, deliberate indifference to his
medical needs, failure to investigate, and failure to train.
initially brought this action against Defendants Ramsey
County, St. Paul Police Department, and Lt. (Unknown).
(Compl. at 1-2.) Plaintiff alleges that, on July 23, 2015, he
was at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, trying to
visit his fiancée “who was badly injured and
just came out of a coma.” (Compl. at 4.) Plaintiff was
approached by Lt. (Unknown), a St. Paul police officer, in
the visiting room. (Compl. at 4.) Lt. (Unknown) asked for
Plaintiff's name and identification. (Compl. at 4.) Lt.
(Unknown) “ran [Plaintiff's] name” and
learned that Plaintiff was subject to a domestic abuse no
contact order. (Compl. at 4.) Lt. (Unknown) then placed
Plaintiff in handcuffs and, upon return from his
fiancée's hospital room, began “screaming
and hollering[, ] calling [him] derogatory names[, ] and . .
.beat[ing him] with [a] baton.” (Compl. at 4.)
alleges he was later “transferred to [the] Ramsey
County jail and Ramsey County workhouse where [he] was
treated for . . . injuries to [his] wrist, forearm, shoulder,
[and] back.” (Compl. at 4.) While at the Ramsey County
jail, Plaintiff reported the incident to “Internal
Affairs, ” which began an investigation. (Compl. at 4).
“Internal Affairs” discovered that the incident
was recorded on video. (Compl. at 4.) “[N]o further
investigation [was] done.” (Compl. at 4.)
alleges that Lt. (Unknown)'s actions amounted to
“cruel [and] unusual punishment, ” causing him
“MENTAL and PHYSICAL pain.” (Compl. at 4.)
Plaintiff seeks “monetary compensation for damages and
loss” in the amount of $2, 000, 000. (Compl. at 4).
Objection to Ramsey County's Motion to Dismiss
response to Ramsey County's motion to dismiss, Plaintiff
filed a “Notice of Motion to Object to the
Defendant's [sic] Ramsey County Minnesota Motion to
Dismiss” (“Objection”) (ECF No. 22). In the
Objection, Plaintiff claims Ramsey County was deliberately
indifferent to his medical needs when Ramsey County
“failed to provide [him] with immediate medical
treatment for [his] injuries that [he] sustained as a result
of [Lt. (Unknown)] beating [him] illegally on camera.”
(Objection at 1.) Plaintiff further claims “he was not
properly treated” because he was not “given
medication, x-rays, a sling for arm, ice for injuries,
etc.” (Objection at 1.)
the motions to dismiss were being briefed, Plaintiff filed an
“Amended Complaint” (ECF No. 27). With respect to
Lt. (Unknown), Plaintiff added that Lt. (Unknown)
[s]ubjected [him] to being physically beaten in violation of
[his] Due Process/Equal Protection of Law Under the U.S.
Constitutions 8th and 14th Amendments when he under color of
state law committed excessive force against [him] maliciously
and sadistically causing serious physical harm and wanton
infliction of pain. The actions of [Lt. (Unknown)] has also
caused aggravated existing back pain, POST TRAUMATIC STRESS
DISORDER and IIED (intentional infliction of emotional
distress) to [him] of cruel [and] unusual punishment a [sic]
violation of [his] 8th Amendment rights the [sic] hitting of
baton, kneeing and kicking [him] while handcuffed on camera.
(Am. Compl. at 1.)
respect to the St. Paul Police Department, Plaintiff added
that the St. Paul Police Department “fail[ed] to
adequately train/supervise its police including police
officer [Lt. (Unknown)], as part of his training when
hired.” (Am. Compl. at 1.)
also added the City of St. Paul as a defendant. (Am. Compl.
at 1.) Plaintiff stated that the City of St. Paul “is
liable for its failure to have and maintain a public
sensibility training regimine [sic] and policy to protect
citizens from police physical abuse.” (Am. Compl. at
AMENDING THE COMPLAINT
filed an “Amended Complaint” relatively close in
time to the motions to dismiss, Plaintiff appears to be
attempting to amend the Complaint as a matter of course under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(B). Defendants contend that the
“Amended Complaint” is not timely. (Ramsey
County's Reply at 7 n.2, ECF No. 30; SPPD's Reply at
party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course
within . . . 21 days after service of a motion under Rule
12(b), (e), or (f).” Fed R. Civ. P. 15(a)(1)(B). The
prison mailbox rule provides that if an inmate confined in an
institution files a complaint, the complaint is timely if it
is deposited in the institution's internal mail system on
or before the last day for filing. Sulik v. Taney
Cty., 316 F.3d 813, 814-15 (8th Cir. 2003),
overruled on other grounds, 393 F.3d 765 (8th Cir.
2005); see United States v. Harrison, 469 F.3d 1216,
1217 (8th Cir. 2006) (“Under the prison mailbox rule, a
pro se pleading is deemed filed upon deposit in the prison
mail system prior to the expiration of the filing
deadline.”). “Timely filing may be shown by a
declaration in compliance with 28 U.S.C. § 1746 or by a
notarized statement, either of which must set forth the date
of deposit and state that first-class postage has been
prepaid.” Sulik, 316 F.3d at 814 (quotation
omitted). “[T]he leniency underlying the ‘mailbox
rule' is justified based on the inability of prisoner
litigants to exercise control over the filings of their
pleadings, and their dependence on prison officials for such
filings.” Johnson v. Minn., No. 10-cv-861
(ADM/FLN), 2010 WL 2682865, at *3 n.1 (D. Minn. July 2,
2010); see Sulik, 316 F.3d at 815.
was confined at Graham Correctional Center, located in
Hillsboro, Illinois, when he filed the Amended Complaint.
(See ECF No. 27-2; Mar. 13, 2018 Ltr., ECF No. 33).
The Amended Complaint contains the following statement:
The Mailbox Rule deadline has been fully complied with and
due to the fact of a delay in the mailroom process here at
GRAHAM CORRECTIONAL CENTER and NOT ADEQUATE ACCESS TO THE LAW
LIBRARY as a PRO SE LITIGANT in which it took three weeks
to receive the Defendants Order [sic] for MOTION TO DISMISS,
Plaintiff requests this Honorable Court not to fault
Plaintiff in this amended complaint nor the Original
Complaint that was filed against Defendants due to the same
(Am. Compl. at 1-2.) This statement was notarized by the
Graham Correctional Center's law librarian on January 24,
2018. (Am. Compl. at 2; Mar. 13, 2018 Ltr. at 1.)
not explicitly clear from Plaintiff's submissions when
the “Amended Complaint” was actually deposited
into the prison mail system. Plaintiff's
“Proof/Certificate of Service” for the
“Amended Complaint” states that it was deposited
into the prison mail system on January 23. (ECF No. 27-1.)
The “Amended Complaint” and Plaintiff's
subsequent letter to the Court, however, reflect that the
“Amended Complaint” was not notarized by the law
librarian until the following day, January 24. (Am. Compl. at
2; Mar. 13, 2018 Ltr. at 1.) The envelope is postmarked the
day after, January 25. Under the prison mailbox rule, the
Court will consider the “Amended Complaint” to be
filed as of January 24.
County's motion to dismiss was filed first, on December
21, 2017. Under Rule 15(a)(1)(B), Plaintiff could amend his
Complaint once as a matter of course on or before January 12,
2018. In the notarized statement, however, Plaintiff states
that it took a few weeks (between two and three) for him to
receive the motion to dismiss because of a delay in the
mailroom process at the Graham Correctional Center. (Am.
Compl. at 2 (“three weeks”), Mar. 13, 2018 Ltr.
at 1 (“two weeks”).). Plaintiff, in fact,
submitted a grievance to the Graham Correctional Center
regarding the processing of his mail. (ECF No. 33-1.) Giving
Plaintiff the benefit of the doubt and taking as true his
statement that he received the motion to dismiss three weeks
late, the Court will, for purposes of considering the
timeliness of the “Amended Complaint” only,
consider Ramsey County's motion to dismiss to have been
served on Plaintiff on January 12.
“Amended Complaint” was filed on January 24,
within 21 days of service of Ramsey County's motion to
dismiss. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(1)(B). The
“Amended Complaint” was also within 21 days of
the second motion to dismiss, which was filed on January 2,
2018, by the St. Paul Police Department. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 6(a)(1); 15(a)(1)(B). Therefore, in the interests of
completeness and in accordance with the principles underlying
the prison mailbox rule and Rule 1 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, this Court will consider Plaintiff to be in
compliance with Rule 15(a)(1)(B)'s 21-day requirement and
analyze Plaintiff's claims against Defendants as if the
Amended Complaint was timely.