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Fredin v. Olson

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

March 7, 2019

Brock Fredin, Plaintiff,
Lyndsey M. Olson and the Attorneys of the Saint Paul City Attorney's Office, Defendants.





         This matter is before the Court for consideration of Plaintiff Brock Fredin's Objections (“Obj.”) dated February 21, 2019 [Doc. No. 21] to United States Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer's Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) dated October 29, 2018 [Doc. No. 8]. The magistrate judge recommended that Fredin's application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP Application”) [Doc. No. 3] be denied, the action be dismissed without prejudice, and any request for a preliminary injunction or a Younger bad faith hearing contained in Fredin's Memorandum [Doc. No. 2] be denied as moot. For the reasons set forth below, Fredin's Objections are overruled and the R&R is adopted.


         Fredin filed a complaint [Doc. No. 1] (“Compl.”) on October 11, 2018, against the attorneys of the Saint Paul City Attorney's Office (“SPCAO”) and Lyndsey M. Olson, in her official capacity as the Saint Paul City Attorney. The Complaint raises various claims under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments which the magistrate judge construed as claims for injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Fredin's claims arise out of a number of criminal cases filed against him by the SPCAO.

         In connection with the criminal cases pending against Fredin, a search warrant was obtained and a search of his then residence was subsequently conducted on April 28, 2017. (Compl. at 1.) A number of Fredin's allegations arise out of this search. Fredin alleges that Olson prosecuted him as a means to cover up a “violent assault” that occurred upon the execution of the search warrant. (R&R at 4.) Plaintiff further alleges that Olson and other SPCAO attorneys acted in concert with the Ramsey County District Court to deliberately deny Fredin sufficient opportunity to present constitutional defenses to his criminal complaints. (Id. at 9.) He also contends that the attorneys acted in bad faith in bringing the cases such that a hearing is required to determine if the bad faith exception to Younger abstention applies. (Id. at 4 and 12.)

         Along with his Complaint, Fredin filed an IFP Application. As the magistrate judge recognized, an IFP application will be denied and an action dismissed if the applicant has filed a complaint that fails to state a cause of action on which relief can be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). In this case, the magistrate judge found that the action should be dismissed as to “the attorneys of the Saint Paul Attorney[']s Office” for failure to appropriately name a party, and as to Defendant Olson for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. Further, the magistrate judge recommended that dismissal is compelled because Younger abstention is appropriate.


         Pursuant to statute, the Court must conduct a de novo review of any portion of the R&R to which specific objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); D. Minn. L.R. 72.2(b).

         Much of Plaintiff's Objections proffer new allegations, none of which are contained in the originally filed Complaint, and thus they are not appropriately before this Court. (See, e.g., Obj. at 11) (stating “The presiding judge ignored IFP filings to prevent Plaintiff Fredin from filing a writ of prohibition in the Minnesota Court of Appeal. As a result, Plaintiff Fredin had no avenue to raise constitutional challenges[.]”). Plaintiff has also recently filed three affidavits [Doc. Nos. 22, 23, 24.], one of which is a statement by Fredin in which he proffers new allegations regarding his inability to access a law library or computers within prison and generally alleges mistreatment within the Ramsey County Correctional Facility. [Doc. No. 22.] The other two affidavits are statements by fellow Ramsey County Correctional Facility inmates corroborating the validity of Plaintiff's alleged inability to access legal materials and computers. [Doc. Nos. 23, 24.] None of the allegations presented in these affidavits are presented in Plaintiff's original Complaint, therefore the Court does not consider the information contained in these affidavits for purposes of its review of the R&R and Plaintiff's Objections. New allegations aside, Plaintiff generally objects to the finding that an injunction is inappropriate in this case.

         Though pro se complaints are to be construed liberally, they still must allege sufficient facts to support the purported claims against the defendant. See Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004). Numerous problems with the Complaint necessitate dismissal of this case without prejudice.

         First, Fredin sues Olson in her official capacity, but in order to assert an official-capacity § 1983 claim, the complainant must allege the official implemented a policy or custom of the state entity. See Marsh v. Phelps Cty., 902 F.3d 745, 751 (8th Cir. 2018). Here, Fredin fails to allege such conduct by Olson on behalf of the City of Saint Paul. (See R&R at 6.)

         Second, abstention is warranted here. Under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), “[f]ederal court abstention in warranted when one of a few ‘exceptional' types of parallel pending state court proceedings exist[.]” Banks v. Slay, 789 F.3d 919, 923 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoting Sprint Commc'ns, Inc. v. Jacobs, 571 U.S. 69, 73 (2013)). Magistrate Judge Bowbeer provided a thorough analysis of Younger and its applicability here, finding that the underlying proceedings were criminal prosecutions, that Fredin had an opportunity to present constitutional challenges, and that no exception to abstention applies. (R&R at 7-13.) As to Fredin's opportunity to assert constitutional challenges in state court, the magistrate judge observed that Fredin had, in fact, asserted a First Amendment argument that the trial court rejected. (Id. at 9.) As Magistrate Judge Bowbeer noted, “This shows Fredin failing to prevail on an ...

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