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Bellino v. Grinde

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 30, 2019



          Nancy E. Brasel United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Jessica Grinde's Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 22] and Plaintiff Daniel Bellino's Motion to Amend [ECF No. 38]. On September 14, 2018, Grinde filed her Motion to Dismiss. [ECF No. 22.] In lieu of responding to the Motion to Dismiss, Bellino filed a Second Amended Complaint [ECF No. 32] on October 5, 2018. The Court ordered that the Second Amended Complaint be stricken without prejudice as having been filed in error, because it failed to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a). [See ECF No. 33.] Bellino thereafter filed his Motion to Amend on October 26, 2018 [ECF No. 38] and filed his response to Grinde's Motion to Dismiss on November 2, 2018 [ECF No. 44]. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants the Motion to Dismiss and denies the Motion to Amend.


         On October 23, 2014, Plaintiff Daniel Bellino was arrested and charged with fifth degree drug possession in Cass County, Minnesota. [ECF No. 15 (“First Am. Compl.”) at ¶18.] Bellino appeared in Cass County District Court on a First Appearance before Cass County District Judge Jana Austed on October 24, 2014. (Id., ¶23.) Judge Austad set bail at $10, 000 with conditions or $30, 000 without conditions and ordered a drug test to be completed. (Id., ¶¶ 24-25.) Bellino was unable to post bail and remained in the Crow Wing County Jail as a result. (Id., ¶32.)

         At the time, Bellino was on probation for a separate offense in Beltrami County. (Id., ¶¶22, 33.) Defendant Jessica Grinde was Bellino's probation officer for the Beltrami County offense and placed Bellino on a hold for a suspected probation violation due to the Cass County charge. (Id., ¶22.) The public record shows Beltrami County District Court, after reviewing the Violation Report and Grinde's recommendation, issued an order on October 29, 2014 that Bellino be apprehended on a probation hold. [State v. Bellino, No. 04-CR-13-1312, Index #4 (Beltrami County Dist. Ct.); Jonassen Aff., Exs. C-D.][1]

         On December 11, 2014, Bellino alleges he was informed that his Cass County charges would be dismissed in exchange for Bellino's son pleading guilty to the fifth- degree possession charge. (First Am. Compl., ¶31.) Bellino further alleges that as of December 11, 2014, the Cass County charge was dismissed and he should have been transferred to Beltrami County to “deal with his probation hold.” (Id., ¶¶31-33.) Thus, according to the Complaint, Beltrami County's failure to transfer Bellino resulted in an additional 27 days of detention in Crow County, to January 8, 2015.[2] (Id., ¶34.)

         Public records reveal the Cass County charge was dismissed not in December, but on January 7, 2015. [State v. Bellino, No. 11-CR-14-1923, Index #18 (Cass County Dist. Ct.); Jonassen Aff., Exs. A-B.] Bellino was released from Crow Wing County Jail the following day, on January 8, 2015. (First Am. Compl., ¶45.)[3]

         Bellino sued Grinde, alleging Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Id., ¶¶2, 63, 68.) Bellino also brought a state law claim for negligence. (Id., ¶73.)


         I. Motion to Dismiss

          The Court takes notice that Grinde's motion to dismiss is technically unopposed, because Bellino failed to timely serve or file a response.[4] Opposition papers were filed late, however, and the Court analyzes Grinde's motion to dismiss and the opposition papers on their merits.

         A. Standard of Review

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a defendant may move to dismiss a claim if, on the pleadings, a party has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. In reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept as true all factual allegations and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Schaller Tel. Co. v. Golden Sky Sys., Inc., 298 F.3d 736, 740 (8th Cir. 2002). When “addressing a motion to dismiss, the court may consider the pleadings themselves, materials embraced by the pleadings, exhibits attached to the pleadings, and matters of public record.” Mulvenon v. Greenwood, 643 F.3d 653, 656-57 (8th Cir. 2011) (quotation and citation omitted).

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” To state a claim, a plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2008); see also Schaaf v. Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir. 2008). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Whether a complaint states a claim is a matter of law. Morton v. Becker, 793 F.2d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1986). A motion to dismiss must be granted when the complaint does not allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face” rather than merely conceivable. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79.

         B. Bellino's claims are barred by Heck v. Humphrey.

         Grinde argues Bellino's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims are barred by the favorable termination rule established in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) because Bellino has not established that his incarceration has been declared invalid or unlawful. In Heck v. Humphrey, the Supreme Court held that “in order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by the actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.” Id. at 486-87. A prisoner's claim for damages is not cognizable under § 1983 if it implies the invalidity of his conviction or confinement, unless the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated. Id. at 487.

         The Eighth Circuit has interpreted Heck to “impose a universal favorable termination requirement on all § 1983 plaintiffs attacking the validity of their conviction or sentence, ” Newmy v. Johnson, 758 F.3d 1008, 1011-12 (8th Cir. 2014), and has explicitly declined to recognize an exception for plaintiffs who are no longer incarcerated. Enzti v. Redmann, 485 F.3d 998, 1003 (8th Cir. 2007) (relying on Heck, 512 U.S. at 490 n.10 (“[T]he principle barring collateral attacks-a longstanding and deeply rooted feature of both the common law and our own jurisprudence-is not rendered inapplicable by the fortuity that a convicted criminal is no longer incarcerated.”)). In Newmy v. Johnson, a plaintiff brought a § 1983 claim against his parole officer, claiming the officer made a false report resulting in his parole revocation. 758 F.3d at 1009. At the time Newmy bought his § 1983 claim, he was no longer incarcerated based on the underlying parole revocation. Id. The court found his claim barred by Heck, extending its Entzi ruling that Heck is not limited to plaintiffs in custody. Newmy, 758 F.3d at 1011.

         At oral argument, Bellino argued that Heck's favorable termination rule does not apply to pretrial detainees. Here, however, Bellino is challenging his detention as a probationer, stating the detention was the probation officer's fault because she placed the probation hold on him. Bellino mischaracterizes himself as a pretrial detainee. Instead, Bellino is challenging his post-trial incarceration for a probation violation, which falls within Entzi and Newmy. Because Bellino is calling into question the decision to place him on a probation hold, he is challenging ...

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