United States District Court, D. Minnesota
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BRISBOIS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter came before the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge upon routine supervision of the cases that pend before
the Court pursuant to a general assignment made in accordance
with the provision of 28 U.S.C. § 636.
reasons discussed herein, the undersigned recommends the
present action be dismissed without prejudice. Plaintiff John
Phillip Hamre has also filed a Motion for Complaint Package,
[Docket No. 21], requesting copies of various court forms
specific to the present case; the Court recommends
Plaintiff's Motion for Complaint Package, [Docket No.21],
be denied without prejudice as moot.
Complaint's caption names as Defendants “Officer
Sprout #326”; “Ryan Nelson #207; “Officer
Fildes #330”; “Robert Matheson #206”; the
City of Moorhead, Minnesota; and “Officer Lopez
#316.” (Compl., [Docket No. 6], at 1). The
Complaint's list of Defendants in the body of the
form-Complaint also includes Wayne Ebbinger, “Ch[ie]f
of Police”; the Fargo Forum, and the Moorhead Police
Department. (Id. at 4).
crux of Plaintiff's Complaint concerns an encounter on
December 31, 2015, between Plaintiff and numerous police
officers employed by the City of Moorhead. (Id. at
5-7). Plaintiff alleges that while he was unloading a truck
at a storage facility, law enforcement officers approached
him and (1) falsely accused him of being involved in various
burglaries; (2) suggested that he had been “on the
sauce”; and (3) were rude to him and kept him out in
freezing temperatures for an inappropriately long time.
(Id. at 5-6). Several days later, various purported
media outlets (including the Fargo Forum) published stories
stating that a Moorhead police officer had remembered seeing
Plaintiff breaking into a storage facility. (Id. at
5-7). Plaintiff's Complaint purports to bring suit under
42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on these assertions, and
Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. (Id. at 1, 8).
initiated the present case on July 5, 2018, by filing his
Complaint and accompanying documents in the United States
District Court, District of North Dakota. (Compl. [Docket No.
6]). Plaintiff filed an application to proceed in forma
pauperis (hereinafter “IFP Application”)
alongside his Complaint. (Appl. to Proceed In Forma Pauperis
[Docket No. 1]). Upon initial review of that IFP Application,
the Honorable Alice R. Senechal-United States Magistrate
Judge for the United States District Court, District of North
Dakota-conditionally granted the IFP Application, on the
condition that Plaintiff provide the Court additional
financial information. (Order [Docket No. 5]). Plaintiff
later provided the requested information, as well as, several
additional documents, including letters to the Court.
(See, Order [Docket No. 8]).
review of all the documents submitted by Plaintiff, the
Honorable Alice R. Senechal-United States Magistrate Judge
for the United States District Court, District of North
Dakota-ordered that the present case be transferred to this
District. (Order [Docket No. 19]). In her Order Magistrate
Judge Senechal, also dismissed Defendant Fargo Forum from the
present action, and noted that ‘[f]urther review of the
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A [was] reserved
for the transferee court.” (Order [Docket No. 19]).
Judge Senechal's Order, in relevant part, did two things.
(Order [Docket No. 19]). First, the Order dismissed the Fargo
Forum as a Defendant, on the grounds that (1) the Fargo Forum
was not a “person” or “state actor”
subject to suit under § 1983 and (2) Plaintiff's
claim against the Fargo Forum appeared to be a defamation
claim which one cannot bring under § 1983. (Id.
at 4-5). Second, the Order considered venue and determined
that the present matter should be transferred to the United
States District Court for the District of Minnesota, given
that none of the remaining Defendants were North Dakota
residents and that the events giving rise to Plaintiff's
claims took place in Minnesota. (Id. at 5). The
Order also noted that any further prescreening should be done
by the transferee court. (Id.).
Court sees no need or reason to reconsider Magistrate Judge
Senechal's determination that Plaintiff qualifies to
proceed in forma pauperis nor Magistrate Judge Senechal's
dismissal of the Fargo Forum from the present action. Thus,
the Court proceeds to screen Plaintiff's Complaint
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 as to the remaining
action will be dismissed when an IFP applicant has filed a
complaint that fails to state a cause of action on which
relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e); Atkinson
v. Bohn, 91 F.3d 1127, 1128 (8th Cir. 1996) (per
curiam); see also, Carter v. Schafer, 273
Fed.Appx. 581, 582 (8th Cir. 2008) (per curiam) (“[T]he
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) apply to all persons
proceeding IFP and are not limited to prisoner suits, and the
provisions allow dismissal without service.”). In
reviewing whether a complaint states a claim on which relief
may be granted, this Court must accept the complaint's
factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable
inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Varga v. U.S.
Bank Nat'l Ass'n, 764 F.3d 833, 838 (8th Cir.
2014). The complaint's factual allegations need not be
detailed, but they must be sufficient to “raise a right
to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The
complaint must “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. In
assessing the complaint's sufficiency, the court may
disregard legal conclusions that are couched as factual
allegations. Hager v. Ark. Dep't of Health, 735
F.3d 1009, 1013 (8th Cir. 2013) (citing Papasan v.
Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). Pro se complaints are
to be construed liberally, but they still must allege
sufficient facts to support the claims advanced. Stone v.
Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004).
Plaintiff's allegations concerning the December 2015,
incident, it is evident to this Court that Plaintiff's
Complaint fails to state a cause of action for which relief
may be granted.
purports to bring claims against all the Defendants in their
official capacities. (See, Compl., [Docket No. 6],
at 2-4). “A suit against a government official in his
or her official capacity is ‘another way of pleading an
action against an entity of which an officer is an
agent.'” Baker v. Chisom, 501 F.3d 920,
925 (8th Cir. 2007) (quoting Monell v. Dep't of
Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 n.55 (1978)). Indeed,
“[t]he real party in interest in an official-capacity
suit is the governmental entity and not the named
official.” Id. (quoting Hafer v.
Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25 (1991)). Therefore, because the
remaining individual Defendants are all employees of the City
of Moorhead, the Court must consider the official-capacity
claims against the remaining Defendants as claims against the
City of Moorhead.
“[l]iability for a constitutional violation will attach
to a municipality only if the violation resulted from an
official municipal policy, an unofficial custom, or a
deliberately indifferent failure to train or supervise an
official or employee.” Bolderson v. City of
Wentzville, 840 F.3d 982, 985 (8th Cir. 2016) (citing
Atkinson v. City of Mountain View, 709 F.3d 1201,
1214 (8th Cir. 2013)). The Eighth Circuit has explained how
to prove each of these forms of liability. See,
e.g., Brewington v. Keener, 902 F.3d 796,
800-02 (8th Cir. 2018) (discussing legal standards);
Bolderson, 840 F.3d at 985-86 (same). But lengthy
discussion of each is unnecessary in the present case because
Plaintiff's Complaint wholly fails to allege any manner
of policy, custom, or failure to train that could support
municipal liability. Plaintiff's Complaint involves a
single incident that occurred in December 2015. Therefore,
the undersigned recommends that all official capacity claims
in Plaintiff's Complaint be dismissed.
recommended dismissal of Plaintiff's official capacity
claims leaves for this Court's consideration
Plaintiff's individual ...