United States District Court, D. Minnesota
MARVIN MUNT, PRO SE.
LINDSAY LAVOIE, FOR DEFENDANTS.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RICHARD NELSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
above matter comes before the Court on a consolidated review
of two Reports and Recommendations. The first Report and
Recommendation (“the First R & R”) of
Magistrate Judge Steven E. Rau [Doc. No. 58] was filed on
June 25, 2018, to which Plaintiff Joel Marvin Munt
(“Munt”) timely filed Objections [Doc. No. 61]
(“First Objs.”). Defendants Tom Roy, Mike Warner,
and David Coward (“Defendants”) filed a response
to Munt's Objections, [Doc. No. 62] (“Defs.'
Resp.”), and Munt filed a reply to Defendants'
response (“Munt Reply”). [Doc. No. 63].
second Report and Recommendation (“the Second R &
R”) of Magistrate Judge Steven E. Rau [Doc. No. 69] was
filed on October 15, 2018, to which Munt timely filed
Objections (“Second Objs.” [Doc. No. 71].)
Defendants have not filed a response to Munt's Objections
to the Second R & R.
on all the files, records, and proceedings herein, the Court:
(1) adopts the June 25, 2018 First R & R, as modified;
(2) adopts the October 15, 2018 Second R & R in its
entirety; (3) grants Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [Doc.
No. 22]; and (4) denies Munt's motions.
detailed recitation of the factual and procedural background
of this case is found in the First R & R, which the Court
incorporates herein by reference. In brief, Munt brings this
action alleging a violation of his constitutional rights
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Compl. at 3 [Doc. No. 1].) Munt
alleges that Defendants have instituted policies and
regulations which restrict his access to the courts.
(Id.) Specifically, Munt takes issue with “(1)
onerous copying, printing, and postage policies; (2)
inadequate access to legal resources; and (3) overly
restrictive policies regarding personal property that prevent
inmates from properly maintaining legal work.” (May 3,
2018 Order at [Doc. No. 43]) (summarizing allegations in
Complaint at 9-16.)
district court must undertake an independent, de novo review
of those portions of an R & R to which objection is made
and “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or part,
the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate
judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); see
also D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(3).
objects to “pretty much the whole R & R.”
(First Objs. at 14.) He argues that the magistrate judge
erred in recommending dismissal of his Complaint, for the
following reasons: (1) contrary to the magistrate judge's
findings, the Complaint pleaded sufficient personal
involvement of each named Defendant, (id. at 2-3);
(2) the Complaint plausibly alleged claims regarding the
copying, printing, postage, legal resources and property
policies of the Minnesota Department of Corrections
(“DOC”), (id. at 3-8); and (3) the
magistrate judge applied the wrong standard of review in
evaluating the Motion to Dismiss. (Id. at 2, 10,
12-13.) Munt also argues that the magistrate judge erred in
recommending a denial of Munt's Motion to Stay, because
“Judge Nelson and Magistrate Judge Rau are legally
unable to rule on matters in this case.” (Id.
at 12.) Finally, Munt argues that because he was unaware of
the controlling legal standard applicable to motions for
injunctive relief, the magistrate judge erred in recommending
the denial of his motions for such relief. (Id. at
Motion to Dismiss
“To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A complaint states a plausible
claim for relief if its ‘factual content . . . allows
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged.'” Braden
v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir.
2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Success need
not be probable to survive a motion to dismiss, but there
must be more than the “sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678. However, “legal conclusions or
‘formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action' . . . may properly be set aside.”
Braden, 588 F.3d at 594 (quoting Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678).
considering a 12(b)(6) motion, the district court accepts as
true all factual allegations in the complaint and grants all
reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.
Crooks v. Lynch, 557 F.3d 846, 848 (8th Cir.
pro se complaint must be liberally construed, and ‘pro
se litigants are held to a lesser pleading standard than
other parties.'” Gertsner v. Sebig, LLC,
386 Fed.Appx. 573, 575 (8th Cir. 2010) (quoting Whitson
v. Stone Cty. Jail, 602 F.3d 920, 922 n.1 (8th Cir.
2010)). “However, this standard does not excuse pro se
complaints from ‘alleg[ing] sufficient facts to support
the claims advanced.'” Id. (quoting
Stone Cty., 602 F.3d at 922 n.1).
courts may not consider matters outside the pleadings on a
12(b)(6) motion. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d). However,
courts may take judicial notice of matters in the public
record. See Levy v. Ohl, 477 F.3d 988, 991 (8th Cir.
2007) (citing Nixon v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, 164
F.3d 1102, 1107 (8th Cir. 1999)). Here, the Court examines
the allegations in the Complaint and takes note of Munt's
litigation in this District, as his lawsuits are matters of
public record, without the need to convert Defendants'
motion into a motion for summary judgment.
Pursuant to 42 § 1983, an individual may bring a civil
action against state actors to “vindicate rights
conferred by the Constitution or laws of the United
States.” Wilson v. Spain, 209 F.3d 713, 715
(8th Cir. 2000). Here, although Munt fails to identify the
particular constitutional amendments that Defendants
allegedly violated, his access-to-courts claims appear to
implicate the First, Fifth and Fourteenth
Amendments. See Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S.
817, 821-22 (1977).
Court agrees with the magistrate judge's determination
that Lewis v. Casey forecloses many of Munt's
claims for relief. (First R & R at 19) (citing Lewis
v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343 (1996).) As noted by Magistrate
Judge Rau, Lewis stands for the proposition that
there is no per se “right to a law library or legal
assistance.” 518 U.S. at 350. The Constitution
“does not guarantee inmates the wherewithal to
transform themselves into litigating engines.”
Id. at 355. Nor can a prisoner “establish
relevant actual injury simply by establishing that his
prison's law library or legal assistance program is
subpar in some theoretical sense.” Id. at 351.
Rather, a prisoner must assert facially plausible allegations
that a “nonfrivolous legal claim [was] frustrated or was
being impeded” by the defendants. Id. at 353.
Copying, Printing, and Postage
Complaint, Munt alleges generally that DOC policies regarding
photocopies, printing of documents, and mail have hindered
his ability to file a larger lawsuit. (Compl. at 9-12, 14.)
He contends that the price of copying is onerous considering
the volume of supporting materials that he seeks to file,
(id. at 9-10), the weekly 50-page limit of printed
materials hinders his ability to serve process and produce
evidence in a prospective trial, (id. at 10-12), and
that there are no reasonable repayment plans for postage
expenses. (Id. at 12.)
Court agrees with the magistrate judge that these allegations
fail to state a claim that is plausible on its face. As noted
in the First R & R, Munt's status as an in forma
pauperis litigant removes his burden of issuing and serving
process, as this burden shifts to the Court. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(d). Munt's allegations concerning the
expense and burden of serving process are thus inapposite.
also emphasizes that the printing and copying policies cause
him significant delay in filing various documents with the
Court. (First Objs. at 4.) However, as noted in the First R
& R, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that
parties may move for extensions of time. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 6(b). These extensions provide Munt with a reasonable
mechanism to continue to timely file various documents in
this suit and others. Indeed, the First R & R notes many
instances in which Munt requested and was granted extensions.
(First R & R at 23-25.) Munt's claims regarding
printing and copying are not plausibly cognizable.
allegations regarding postage are also not cognizable, as he
does not allege that the postage policy prevents him from
filing documents with the Court. As noted in the First R
& R, his Complaint alleges the opposite: “[i]f
there is more postage than you have money [in your account,
the mail] still goes out.” (Compl. at 12)
(emphasis added). Given that there is no allegation that
postage policies are an impediment to Munt's access to
the Courts, Munt's claim regarding postage is not
Court thus agrees with the First R & R, that even viewing
these policies collectively, it is not plausible “that
a combination of the copying, printing, and postage policies
impeded Munt's ‘opportunit[ies] to present claimed
violations of fundamental constitutional rights to the
courts.'” (First R & R at 22, quoting
Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351.) As Magistrate Judge Rau
also observed, “Munt's filing activity in this case
alone demonstrates the implausible nature of his
allegations.” (Id.) (citing Doc. Nos. 1, 2, 3,
4, 7, 8, 13, 17, 18, 32, 33, 34, 35, 38, 39, 41, 42, 46, 47,
further alleges that the DOC policies regarding access to
legal resources impede his access to the courts. (Compl. at
13-14) (“With the current 2.5 hours per week
[restriction] and my backlog of pleadings, it will take me
years before the materials for this case are ready to file,
unless relief is granted.”). Defendants note that Munt
does not deny that he has access to a law library, computer,
and legal materials. (Defs.' Resp. at 7.) ...