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Hogy v. Ludeman

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

March 25, 2019

STEVEN MERRILL HOGY, Plaintiff,
v.
CAL LUDEMAN, ET. AL., Defendants.

          Steven Merrill Hogy, pro se plaintiff.

          Brandon L Boese, OFFICE OF THE MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL, for defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JOHN R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE

         On June 23, 2016, Plaintiff Steven Hogy filed this action against various individuals, collectively referred to as "Defendants," alleging that the conditions of his civil commitment violated his constitutional rights. Defendants subsequently filed two Motions to Dismiss. Plaintiff has objected to Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois's Order and Report and Recommendation ("R&R"), which recommended that the Court grant Defendants' Motions. Because the Magistrate Judge correctly determined that Plaintiff is precluded from raising the issues underlying Counts 1 and 2, and correctly determined that Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted as to Count 3, the Court will adopt the R&R in its entirety.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is civilly committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program ("MSOP"). (Mot. for Leave, Proposed Am. Compl. ("PAC") ¶ 1, Jan. 25, 2017, Docket No. 47-1.) He is currently housed at MSOP's Moose Lake Complex 1 facility. (Id. ¶ 9.) The Moose Lake Complex 1 facility, and the conditions of confinement there, have been the subject of litigation for several years. In 2011, individuals civilly committed at Moose Lake filed a 28 U.S.C. § 1983 class action complaint against Minnesota state officials, alleging that the policies, procedures, and conditions of their confinement amounted to a violation of their constitutional rights. See generally Karsjens v. Jess on, Civ. No. 11-3659 (DWF/JJK), 2015 WL 420013 (D. Minn. Feb. 2, 2015). The Karsjens class brought thirteen separate claims, but pertinent to this case are counts I, II, V, and VII. Count I challenged the MSOP as facially unconstitutional and count II alleged that the MSOP was unconstitutional as applied. Id. at *4. In count V, the Karsjens class alleged that the defendants had "denied Plaintiffs the right to be free from punishment in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Minnesota Constitution." Id. Similarly, count VII alleged that the defendants had "denied Plaintiffs the right to be free from inhumane treatment in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Minnesota Constitution." Id.

         On June 17, 2015, after a six-week bench trial, the District Court held that the MSOP was facially unconstitutional and unconstitutional as applied, and therefore found for the class plaintiffs on counts I and II. See generally Karsjens v. Jesson, 109 F.Supp.3d 1139 (D. Minn. 2015). The Court declined to address the remaining counts- including counts V and VII-at that time, because the remedy fashioned for counts I and II would address the issues raised in those counts. Id. at 1173.

         The Karsjens defendants appealed the Court's rulings. On January 3, 2017, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court on counts I and II and remanded the case for further proceedings. Karsjens v. Piper, 845 F.3d 394 (8th Cir. 2017). The Eighth Circuit first held that the MSOP is facially constitutional because it is rationally related to Minnesota's legitimate interest to protect its citizens. Id. at 410. The court then held that the Karsjens class had failed to show that the conditions of their confinement rose to a level that shocks the conscience, and that they therefore failed to show that the MSOP was unconstitutional as applied. Id. at 410-11.

         On remand, the Karsjens defendants moved for summary judgment on the claims that had not been explicitly addressed by the Eighth Circuit. The District Court granted that motion, stating that "in light of the Eighth Circuit's decision, the Court finds that Defendants are not liable." Karsjens v. Piper, 336 F.Supp.3d 974, 987 (D. Minn. 2018). Specifically with regard to counts V and VII, the Court held that "the Eighth Circuit's holdings and reasoning preclude finding a substantive due process violation under Counts V and VII." Id. at 986.

         On June 22, 2016, before the Eighth Circuit issued its decision on the Karsjens appeal, and therefore before the District Court dismissed the remainder of the Karsjens claims, Plaintiff filed this case. Plaintiff claims that the physical conditions and the policies of confinement within the Complex 1 facility result in the violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free from punishment (Count I) and be free from inhumane treatment (Count II); and deny him equal protection of the law (Count III). (PAC ¶¶ 179-207.)

         Defendants, both before and after the Eighth Circuit's decision, filed Motions to Dismiss the Complaint. (1st Mot. to Dismiss, Nov. 14, 2016, Docket No. 12; 2nd Mot. to Dismiss, Mar. 6, 2017, Docket No. 60.) Pertinent here, Defendants argued that the Karsjens litigation and the ensuing decisions by the District Court and the Eighth Circuit preclude Plaintiff from bringing Counts 1 and 2, and that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted as to Count 3. The Magistrate Judge took Defendants' Motions to Dismiss under consideration. On January 4, 2019, the Magistrate Judge wrote an Order and R&R recommending that the Court dismiss Plaintiff's claims and denied Plaintiff's Motion for leave to Amend his Complaint. (R. & R. at 23, Jan. 4, 2019, Docket No. 83.) Plaintiff now objects to the R&R. (Obj., Jan. 18, 2019, Docket No. 84.)

         DISCUSSION

         I.STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         A. Objections to the Report and Recommendation

         Upon the filing of a report and recommendation by a Magistrate Judge, "a party may serve and file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2); accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(1). Dispositive orders which have been properly objected to are subject to de novo review. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(3). Thus, the Court will consider the dispositive portions of the R&Rto which Plaintiff has objected de novo.

         B. Motion to Dismiss

         Reviewing a complaint under a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court considers all facts alleged in the complaint as true and construes the pleadings in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See, e.g., Turner v. Holbrook,278 F.3d 754, 757 (8th Cir. 2002). To survive a motion to dismiss, however, a complaint must provide more than '"labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). That is, to avoid dismissal, a complaint must include "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). "Though pro se complaints are to ...


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