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Yaseen v. Defiel

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 28, 2019

OMAR YASEEN, Plaintiff,
KATIE DEFIEL, et al., Defendants.

          Omar Yaseen, MCF-Oak Park Heights, pro se Plaintiff.

          Jonathan D. Moler, Minnesota Attorney General's Office, for Defendants.




         Plaintiff Omar Yaseen, currently incarcerated at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Oak Park Heights, brought this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He claims the Defendants, acting under the color of state law, violated his constitutional rights by (1) using excessive force against him during an altercation, (2) denying him due process during a subsequent disciplinary hearing, and (3) being deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. He also brings claims for assault and negligence under Minnesota state law. In this partial motion to dismiss, Defendants ask the Court to dismiss some of Yaseen's claims and some of the named parties in their entirety. For the reasons stated below, the Court recommends that Yaseen's Fourteenth Amendment and Eighth Amendment medical care claims be dismissed in their entirety, and that the Eighth Amendment excessive force claim be dismissed as against Defendants Reishus and Defiel. The Court further recommends Yaseen's state law negligence claim be dismissed.

         FINDINGS OF FACT[1]

         I. November 2016 Altercation and Subsequent Disciplinary Hearing

         Yaseen alleges that, in November 2016, as Defendant Johannes Olivier finished a medical assessment of Yaseen in his cell, Defendants Seeclia Jaiteh, Daniel Meyer, Matthew Swanson, Dustin Engh, Allison Zindlev, Lindsay Mosser, and Amsden[2] arrived. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 8, 19, Docket No. 18. Meyer allegedly said “resisting staff, ” at which point Jaiteh, Swanson, Engh, Zindlev, and Amsden began to strike and choke Yaseen. Id. at ¶ 21. Yaseen allegedly suffered bruises and a head injury from these strikes. Id. Meyer, Johannes, and Mosser watched these events occur, but did not intervene. Id. at ¶ 22. Meyer then allegedly placed Yaseen in a restrain chair in an outdoor area, despite Yaseen not resisting or otherwise breaking any rules. Id. at ¶¶ 23-24. Yaseen was subsequently taken to a clinic, where his injuries were examined. Id. at 28.

         Yaseen alleges that, prior to the November 2016 altercation, he, or other inmates, attempted to warn Defendants Tom Roy, Michelle Smith, David Reishus, and Sharlene Lopez about the abusive behavior of their subordinates through numerous grievance filings and complaints, but these Defendants took no action. Id. at ¶ 27. Roy is the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Corrections. Id. at ¶ 13. Smith is the warden at Oak Park Heights. Id. at ¶ 11. Reishus is the Associate Warden of Operations at Oak Park Heights. Id. at ¶ 9. Lopez is the Program Director for the Administrative Segregation Unit at Oak Park Heights. Id. at ¶ 7.

         Following the incident, Yaseen alleges he was charged with disciplinary violations for, among other things, assaulting and threatening staff and inciting a riot. Id. at ¶ 29. The officials who oversaw the disciplinary hearing[3] allegedly declined to call any of the witnesses Yaseen requested. Id. at ¶ 31. Yaseen further alleges that the statements by prison staff relied on by the hearing officials were entirely devoid of any facts demonstrating that he incited a riot among other inmates. Id. at ¶ 34. The officials found Yaseen guilty of the alleged violations and sentenced him to 150 days of disciplinary segregation, 30 days of extended incarceration, and placement for one year on the Administrative Control Status Program. Id. at ¶ 32. Yaseen states that he appealed the decision to Defendants Smith and Roy, but they denied the appeal. Id. at ¶¶ 35-36.

         II. Yaseen's Medical Care

         Yaseen also makes allegations relating to his medical treatment. Specifically, he alleges that, while seeing a neurology specialist at a medical clinic, the specialist wrote a note to be sent back to Oak Park Heights. Id. at ¶ 37. Yaseen does not allege what the specialist told him or what was in the note.

         He further alleges that, beginning in December 2017, he has submitted repeated requests to get an appointment with a neurology specialist and to receive physical therapy. Id. at ¶¶ 38-39. When those requests allegedly went unanswered, he filed grievances, which he understands go to “individuals responsible for the matter that the grievance concerns.”[4] Id. at ¶¶ 39-40. He alleges that, at the time he filed his lawsuit, four months have passed, but he has received no response, despite suffering significant pain. Id. at ¶¶ 43-44.


         Yaseen's Amended Complaint raises an Eighth Amendment excessive force claim, one or more Fourteenth Amendment due process claims, and an Eighth Amendment medical care claim. Invoking the Court's supplemental jurisdiction, it also raises a state law assault claim based on the same allegations as the excessive force claim, and a state law negligence claim based on the same allegations as the medical care claim. The Court agrees with the Defendants that Yaseen's due process claims and medical care claims should be dismissed in their entirety, and that two of the Defendants should have the excessive force claims against them dismissed.

         I. Legal Standard

         To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a complaint “must allege sufficient facts that, taken as true, ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” K.T. v. Culver-Stockton Coll., 865 F.3d 1054, 1057 (8th Cir. 2017) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). It need not be detailed, but it must contain more than a “[t]hreadbare recital of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 662. “Though pro se complaints are to be construed liberally, they still must allege sufficient facts to support the claims advanced.” Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004) (internal citation omitted).

         In considering a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a court accepts all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true and draws all reasonable inference in favor of the plaintiff. Aten v. Scottsdale Ins. Co., 511 F.3d 818, 820 (8th Cir. 2008). Courts “generally must ignore materials outside the pleadings, ” but “may consider some materials that are part of the public record or do not contradict the complaint, ” as well as “materials that are necessarily embraced by the pleadings.” Porous Media Corp. v. Pall Corp., 186 F.3d 1077, 1079 (8th Cir. 1999) (internal quotations omitted). Courts may also consider material attached to a complaint as part of the pleading itself. Abels v. Farmers Commodities Corp., 259 F.3d 910, 921 (8th Cir. 2001).

         II. Eighth Amendment Excessive Force Claim-Failure to Supervise

         Yaseen raises an excessive force claim, not just against the Defendants he alleges were directly involved in the November 2016 incident, but also against Roy, Smith, Reishus, Defiel, and Lopez.[5] Liberally construed, he claims these Defendants were deliberately indifferent to the serious threat of excessive force by failing to supervise their subordinates. Although he does not adequately plead facts relating to Defiel or Reishus, Yaseen has adequately pleaded a claim against the other three Defendants to survive a motion to dismiss.

         A supervisor may not be held liable for a § 1983 claim under a theory of respondeat superior. Wagner v. Jones, 664 F.3d 259, 275 (8th Cir. 2011). Rather, liability is limited to a supervisor's personal involvement in a constitutional violation or “when the supervisor's corrective inaction constitutes deliberate indifference toward the violation.” Boyd v. Knox, 47 F.3d 966, 968 (8th Cir. 1995). “A prison official may be liable for failure to protect an inmate from a use of excessive force if he is deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of serious harm to an inmate.” Estate of Davis by Ostenfield v. Delo, 115 F.3d 1388, 1395 (8th Cir. 1997). To constitute such deliberate indifference, “[t]he supervisor must know about the conduct and facilitate it, approve it, ...

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