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Daywitt v. Minnesota Department of Human Services

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

March 29, 2019

KENNETH STEVEN DAYWITT and KENNETH GERNARD PARKS, Plaintiffs,
v.
MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, MINNESOTA SEX OFFENDER PROGRAM, SARA KULAS, JUSTIN JOSLIN, TARA OSBORNE LEIVIAN, NICOLE VAINEO, and 1E CLINICAL TEAM, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AS MODIFIED

          Nancy E. Brasel United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs, who are civilly committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, have brought various claims because Defendants denied their request to be roommates at the program based on safety concerns. In a Report and Recommendation dated December 14, 2018 [ECF No. 32 (“R&R”)], United States Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung recommended that Defendants' motion be granted in part and denied in part. Both parties filed objections to the R&R and replies to the objections. [ECF Nos. 36 (“Pl.'s Obj.”), 38 (“Def. Reply”), 34 (“Def. Obj.”), 39 (“Pl. Reply”).] For the reasons set forth below, the Court now overrules Plaintiffs' objection, accepts Defendants' objection and adopts the R&R, as modified, consistent with this order.

         BACKGROUND

         The facts are clearly set forth in the R&R and are incorporated by reference for purposes of the Plaintiffs' and Defendants' objections. In short, Plaintiffs Daywitt and Parks are civilly committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (“MSOP”). [ECF No. 1 (“Compl.”) ¶¶ 5-6, 22.] Plaintiffs were previously, but are no longer, involved in a romantic relationship.[1] (Compl. ¶ 24.) Plaintiffs would like to and have requested to become roommates, but Defendants denied the request. (Compl. ¶¶ 29, 27-2.)[2] Plaintiffs filed this action seeking monetary and injunctive relief, alleging that Defendants' decision to deny Plaintiffs' request to be roommates violates their civil rights. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants' denial of their roommate request violated (1) the Minnesota Human Rights Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 363A.01, et seq. and (2) the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution, U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1, and the equivalent protections under the Minnesota Constitution, Minn. Const. art. I, § 2. (See gen. Compl.) Plaintiffs also seek injunctive and declaratory relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000a-3. (Id.)

         Plaintiffs previously brought a similar action, which was ultimately dismissed. See Daywitt v. Minnesota Dep't of Human Services, No. 16-cv-648, 2017 WL 8947245, at *1 (D. Minn. Jan. 27, 2017), report and recommendation adopted as modified by 2017 WL 1406374 (D. Minn. Apr. 20, 2017). In the prior case, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs' Civil Rights Act claims and declaratory judgment claim with prejudice and dismissed Plaintiffs' equal protection claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 without prejudice. (See id.) The Court declined to exercise jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' state law MHRA claim and dismissed that claim without prejudice. (See id.)

         ANALYSIS

         I. Standard of Review

         Once a magistrate judge's report and recommendation is filed, a party may “serve and file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2); D. Minn. LR 72.2(b). If a party objects to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, the Court “shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). This court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. Id. If no party has objected to the R&R the Court reviews it for clear error. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b); Grinder v. Gammon, 73 F.3d 793, 795 (8th Cir. 1996) (per curiam). The Court has conducted a de novo review of the record for those specific portions of the R&R to which objection has been made, including a review of the arguments and submissions of counsel, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2), and Local Rule 72.2(b). The Court reviews the sections of the R&R to which no objection has been made for clear error.

         II. The Parties' Objections

         Plaintiffs accept the majority of Judge Leung's R&R recommending dismissal of their claims, but make the following objections: (1) Plaintiffs contend Judge Leung erred in failing to sanction the Defendants (by dismissing their motion) for a failure to meet and confer prior to the motion; and (2) Plaintiffs contend the R&R addresses a claim brought pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which Plaintiffs argue they did not raise in their complaint. Plaintiffs state that they “would not disagree with the remainder of the R&R's conclusions given the case law cited for reasoning of dismissal.” (See Pl.'s Obj. at 2-3.)

         For their part, Defendants request that the Court adopt the R&R in its entirety, with the exception of Judge Leung's recommendation to deny Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' Section 1983 Equal Protection Claim against the individual Defendants in their official capacity. (Def. Obj. at 1 n.1.)

         As an initial matter, having reviewed the R&R for clear error with respect to the sections to which no objection has been made, the Court finds no clear error as to the Judge Leung's recommendation that the Eleventh Amendment bars Plaintiffs' state and federal claims against MSOP and the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Plaintiffs' MHRA claim against the individual Defendants in their official capacity, Plaintiffs' MHRA claim for monetary relief against the individual Defendants in their individual capacities, Plaintiffs' federal law claims against the individual Defendants in their official capacity for monetary relief, and Plaintiffs' federal law claims against the individual Defendants in their individual capacity for injunctive and declaratory relief. (See R&R at 24.)

         The Court also finds no clear error in the R&R's recommendation that the doctrine of qualified immunity bars Plaintiffs' claim under Section 1983 for monetary relief against the individual Defendants acting in their individual capacity, and Plaintiffs' Section 1983 claim, to the extent it alleges a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Minnesota Constitution, also fails because Section 1983 does not provide a cause of action for violations of the Minnesota Constitution. (See id.)

         Finally, to the extent that Plaintiffs assert a claim for injunctive and declaratory relief under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Court finds no clear error in the R&R's recommendation to dismiss that claim.[3] The Court below addresses each of the objections made.

         III. Local Rule 7.1's Meet ...


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