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Hand v. Ludeman

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 4, 2019

Kenneth Donald Hand, Plaintiff,
v.
Cal Ludeman, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Leo I. Brisbois United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter comes before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to a general assignment, made in accordance with the provisions of Title 28 U.S.C. § 636, and upon Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time for Process Service, [Docket No. 12]; Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 18];[1] Plaintiff's Motion for Reasonable Accommodations, [Docket No. 26]; Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint, [Docket No. 39]; Plaintiff's Motion to Perfect Personal Service, [Docket No. 40]; and Defendants' second Motion to Dismiss. [Docket No. 50].[2] The Court took the parties' Motions under advisement on the parties' written submissions. (Order [Docket No. 70]).

         For the reasons discussed herein, Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time for Process Service, [Docket No. 12], is DENIED as moot; Plaintiff's Motion for Reasonable Accommodations, [Docket No. 26], is DENIED as moot; Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint, [Docket No. 39], is DENIED; and Plaintiff's Motion to Perfect Personal Service, [Docket No. 40], is DENIED as moot.

         For the reasons discussed herein, the undersigned recommends that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 18], be GRANTED; Defendant's second Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 50], be GRANTED; and Plaintiff's Complaint be DISMISSED with prejudice.[3]

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Kenneth Donald Hand (hereinafter “Plaintiff”) is a patient civilly committed in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (hereinafter “MSOP”). (Compl [Docket No. 1]).

         On December 21, 2011, patients civilly committed at the MSOP Moose Lake facility, including Plaintiff in the present case, “filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint against various state employees for violations of their constitutional and statutory rights.” Karsjens, et al. v. Minnesota Department of Human Services, et al., 11-cv-3659 (DWF/TNL), Order, [Docket No. 828], at 6-7 (D. Minn. Feb. 2, 2015). The plaintiffs in Karsjens “identif[ied] numerous policies, procedures, and conditions of confinement that they claim[ed], when considered cumulatively and in context, violate[d] their constitutional rights.” Id. at 7. On July 24, 2012, the Court in Karsjens certified a class which consisted of “‘[a]ll patients currently civilly committed' to MSOP” and “[t]he Court appointed the fourteen named Plaintiffs” including the Plaintiff in the present case, “to serve as class representatives.” Id.

         On October 28, 2014, the plaintiffs in Karsjens filed a Third Amended Complaint which asserted thirteen claims including the following “claims: (I) Minnesota Statute § 253D is facially unconstitutional; (II) Minnesota Statute § 253D is unconstitutional as applied; . . . (V) Defendants have denied Plaintiffs the right to be free from punishment in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Minnesota Constitution;” and “(VII) Defendants have denied Plaintiffs the right to be free from inhumane treatment in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Minnesota Constitution . . . .” Id. at 10-11.

         On June 15, 2015, the Honorable Donovan W. Frank, after a six week trial, found that the Minnesota Sex Offender Program statutory scheme was “unconstitutional on its face and as applied (Count I and II), ” and therefore, Judge Frank granted “Plaintiffs' request for declaratory relief with respect to Count I and II of their Third Amended Complaint . . . .” Karsjens, et al. v. Minnesota Department of Human Services, et al., 11-cv-3659 (DWF/TNL), Order, [Docket No. 966], at 65-75 (D. Minn. June 15, 2015). Because the remedial measures ordered respective to Counts I and II would “addressed the issues raised in . . . Counts III, V, VI, and VII” Judge Frank did not address Counts III, V, VI, and VII in the June 15, 2015, Order. See, Id. at 65.

         On August 2, 2016, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, initiated the present case by filing his Complaint. [Docket No. 1]. On January 5, 2017, Defendants in the present case, in their official capacities, moved to dismiss the present Complaint against them in its entirety. (Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss [Docket No. 18]).

         Defendants in Karjens appealed Judge Frank's June 17, 2015, Order, and “[o]n January 3, 2017, the Eighth Circuit issued an opinion ‘revers[ing] the district court's finding of a constitutional violation and vacat[ing] the injunctive order.” Karsjens, et al. v. Minnesota Department of Human Services, et al., 11-cv-3659 (DWF/TNL), Order, [Docket No. 1108], at 5 (D. Minn. Aug. 23, 2018).

         On March 6, 2017, Defendants in the present case, in their individual capacities, moved to dismiss the present Complaint against them in its entirety. (Defs.' Second Mot. to Dismiss [Docket No. 50]).

         On June 30, 2017, the Honorable John R. Tunheim, Chief District Court Judge for the District of Minnesota, stayed the present case “pending the litigation in Karsjens, or until further order of the Court stating otherwise.” (Order [Docket No. 68]).

         On August 23, 2018, Judge Frank in the Karsjens case issued an Order addressing, among other things, Counts III, V, VI, and VII “in light of the Eighth Circuit's decision.” Karsjens, et al. v. Minnesota Department of Human Services, et al., 11-cv-3659 (DWF/TNL), Order, [Docket No. 1108], at 1 (D. Minn. Aug. 23, 2018). With respect to Counts V and VII, Judge Franks concluded that based on Eighth Circuit precedent defendants were “not liable under Counts V and VII.” Id. at 18. Specifically, Judge Frank concluded “that the Eighth Circuit's holdings and reasonings preclude finding a substantive due process violation under Counts V and VII.” Id. at 17. Judge Frank held that “[r]egardless of the theory of liability alleged, Plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process claims are analyzed under the two-part test identified by the Eighth Circuit in its Karsjens opinion. Furthermore, the Eighth Circuit has explicitly held that Defendants' actions, as revealed in Phase One of trial, do not rise to the conscience-shocking level necessary to support Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process liability.” Id. at 19. Accordingly, Judge Frank dismissed with prejudice Counts V and VII of the Karsjens Third Amended Complaint. Id. at 20.

         On October 22, 2018, the stay in the present case was lifted. (Order [Docket No. 69]).

         II. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires a complaint articulate “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. “The words ‘short and plain' are themselves short and plain, and they mean what they say: A complaint must be concise, and it must be clear. Rule 8 was not promulgated to provide helpful advice; it has the force of law, and it must be followed.” Gurman v. Metro Housing and Redevelopment Authority, 842 F.Supp.2d 1151, 1152 (D. Minn. 2011).

         In the present case, Plaintiff's Complaint, [Docket No. 1], names over thirty Defendants each of whom is alleged to be culpable in each of the three discrete causes of actions despite the fact that the vast majority of the named Defendants are only related in an ancillary manner to the factual allegations underlying the causes of action. (See, Compl. [Docket No. 1]). Moreover, Plaintiff's Complaint sprawls over fifty-one pages with 123 paragraphs many of which contain several subparts. (See, Id.). Plaintiff's Proposed Amended Complaint stretches over 100 pages with over 200 paragraphs many of which again contain several subparts. (See, Proposed Amended Compl. [Docket No. 39]).

         A Court may sua sponte dismiss a complaint that fails to comply with Rule 8. See, Olson v. Little, 978 F.2d 1264 (8th Cir. 1992) (unpublished table disposition); see also, Mangam v. Weinberger, 848 F.2d 909, 911 (8th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 1013 (1989). Plaintiff's Complaint, and even his Proposed Amended Complaint, fail to comply with Rule 8's requirement that a complaint articulate “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” On that basis alone, the undersigned could recommend that Plaintiff's Complaint be dismissed.

         The undersigned will, however, in an abundance of caution evaluate Plaintiff's claims on the merits.

         III. Plaintiff's Complaint. [Docket No. 1].

         Plaintiff's Complaint, [Docket No. 1], alleges that Defendant Ludeman and Defendant Benson purposefully caused Complex 1 at the MSOP Moose Lake facility to be constructed in a manner consistent with a “maximum security prison facility” which according to Plaintiff constitutes a violation of his constitutional rights. (See, Compl. [Docket No. 1]). Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants, apparently individually and as a collective, have failed to do anything to rectify these constitutional violations.

         Plaintiff alleges that Complex 1 at the MSOP Moose Lake facility, where Plaintiff is housed, was constructed in a manner akin to a “maximum security prison facility” as opposed to a treatment facility, and therefore, Plaintiff's constitutional rights have been violated because he was civilly committed for treatment purposes not for punishment. (See, Id.). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Complex 1 of the MSOP Moose Lake facility is constitutionally impermissible because its construction “failed to contain the correct floor coverings”; “failed to contain the minimum amount of usable floor space for double-occupancy rooms”; “contains a steel prison cell door with a ‘cuff port' installed into the door”; “failed to contain the correct distance between beds”; “failed to contain the proper furniture and fixtures”; “failed to contain the correct sink and lavatory facilities”; “failed to contain the correct type of shower rooms; semiprivate with a half-door open to the dayroom”; “failed to contain the correct level of privacy for each patient”; and “failed to contain any laundry facility for [Plaintiff's] personal use.” (Compl., [Docket No. 1], at 22-30). Plaintiff alleges “[t]hat even though each defendant knew of the constitutional deficiencies of Complex 1, they constructed it and forcibly housed [Plaintiff] in Complex 1, with complete knowledge and disregard for [Plaintiff's] civil rights under due process.” (Id.).

         On the basis of this allegations, Plaintiff raises three claims: (1) “Denial of Right to be Free from Punishment in Violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Minnesota Constitution” (Count 1), (2) “Denial of Right to be Free from Inhumane Treatment in Violation of the Fourteen Amended to the United States Constitution and the Minnesota Constitution” (Count 2), and “Denial of Due Process under Equal protection/discrimination because [Plaintiff] received much more draconian physical restriction than any similarly situated committed patients within the MSOP-ML; and severely more draconian physical restriction than any other class of civilly committed patient outside the MSOP-ML” (Count 3).

         IV. Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint. [Docket No. 39].

         As noted above, on November 1, 2016, Defendants, in their individual capacities, filed their Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 18], in response to that Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff filed his Proposed Amended Complaint. [Docket No. 39].[4] On March 6, 2017, Defendants filed their Second Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 50], to which Plaintiff also responded.

         Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint, [Docket No. 39], seeks to double the length of Plaintiff's Complaint to add more discussion of the history of the construction of Complex 1 at the MSOP Moose Lake facility, additional statutory definition quotes, more details regarding the construction of Complex 1 at the MSOP Moose Lake facility, more details regarding how the construction of Complex 1 at the MSOP Moose Lake facility affects the operation of the MSOP Moose Lake facility, rhetoric regarding the history of perceived discrimination in the United States, and a description of each Defendant's position, as well as, how Plaintiff perceives that Defendant to be related to his previous assertions. (See, Proposed Amended Compl. [Docket No. 39]). Plaintiff also adds several paragraphs which simply repeat and summarize assertions already made in his original Complaint. (See, e.g., Id. at 31-40, 60-66, 91-98). Plaintiff's Proposed Amended Complaint contains the same three Counts as his original Complaint, however, through his Proposed Amended Complaint and in his Equal Protection claim Plaintiff makes passing references to the Americans with Disabilities Act. (See, Proposed Amended Compl. [Docket No. 39]).

         Eighth Circuit jurisprudence provides that courts should consider motions to amend the pleadings prior to ruling on pending motions to dismiss. In Pure Country, Inc., the defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Pure Country, Inc. v. Sigma Chi Fraternity, 312 F.3d 952, 955 (8th Cir. 2002). While the motion to dismiss was pending, the plaintiff filed a motion to amend its pleading and add additional parties. Id. The district court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss and denied as moot the plaintiff's motion to amend. Id. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit reversed, writing:

[T]he district court ignored Pure Country's motion to amend, granted Sigma Chi's motion to dismiss the original complaint, and then denied Pure Country's motion to amend the complaint as moot. That approach, as a procedural matter, was plainly erroneous. If anything, Pure Country's motion to amend the complaint rendered moot Sigma Chi's motion to dismiss the original complaint. We therefore reverse the district court's denial of Pure Country's motion to amend the complaint, and we remand the matter to the district court with instructions to reconsider the motion under the discretionary standard asserted by Pure Country. In order to permit the district court to reconsider the motion to amend the complaint, we also vacate the district court's ...

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