United States District Court, D. Minnesota
DENNIS D. LINEHAN, Plaintiff,
DIANA VANG, Defendant.
REPORT & RECOMMENDATION
T. SCHULTZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Dennis D. Linehan seeks to proceed in forma pauperis
in this civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This Court
previously directed him to file an amended complaint
clarifying the alleged conduct of the sole Defendant, Diana
Vang. Order, Jan. 8, 2019, Docket No. 7. Linehan, complying
with that Order, filed an Amended Complaint largely identical
to his original complaint, but which included some additional
factual allegations and a section on the deliberate
indifference standard. The Amended Complaint is still
inadequate as a matter of law, so the Court recommends that
this action be dismissed without prejudice and that
Linehan's IFP application be denied as moot.
of Linehan's financial qualification, an IFP application
will be denied, and an 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. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii); Atkinson v. Bohn,
91 F.3d 1127, 1128 (8th Cir. 1996) (per curiam); Carter
v. Schafer, 273 Fed. App'x 581, 582 (8th Cir. 2008)
(per curiam) (“[C]ontrary to plaintiffs' arguments
on appeal, the 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.”). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule
8(a)(2) states that a complaint need only contain “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” In reviewing whether a
complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted, this
Court must accept as true all of the factual allegations in
the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in the
plaintiff's favor. Aten v. Scottsdale Ins. Co.,
511 F.3d 818, 820 (8th Cir. 2008). Although the factual
allegations in the complaint need not be detailed, 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. Pro se complaints are to be
construed liberally, but they still must allege sufficient
facts to support the claims advanced. See Stone v.
Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004).
fails to state a claim under Section 1983. “The
essential elements of a § 1983 claim are (1) that the
defendant(s) acted under color of state law, and (2) that the
alleged wrongful conduct deprived the plaintiff of a
constitutionally protected federal right.” Schmidt
v. City of Bella Villa, 557 F.3d 564, 571 (8th Cir.
2009). Linehan identifies four constitutional rights he
believes Vang deprived him of: procedural due process under
both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, his right to
assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment, and his
right to a trial by jury under the Seventh Amendment.
bottom, Linehan's new complaint-like his first-alleges
that Vang violated various constitutional rights by
intentionally denying him access to government assistance
programs to which he is statutorily entitled. The Amended
Complaint alleges that Vang broke from normal procedure to
ensure he did not receive the benefits of the assistance
program and intentionally misled the administrative law judge
during a hearing. Am. Compl. 4, Docket No. 8. The specificity
of the allegations leaves something to be desired, but the
alleged wrongful action is discernable. That alleged conduct,
however, does not demonstrate a violation of any of the
federal constitutional rights Linehan identifies.
deliberate deprivation of a statutory entitlement may form
the basis of a Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process
violation, the deprivation in and of itself is insufficient
to state a claim. “[A]n unauthorized intentional
deprivation of property by a state employee does not
constitute a violation of the procedural requirements of the
Due Process Clause . . . if a meaningful postdeprivation
remedy for the loss is available.” Hudson v.
Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 533 (1984); see also Goodman
v. Pollack, 668 Fed. App'x 670, 670 (8th Cir. 2016).
Minnesota provides judicial review of Department of Human
Services benefits decisions. Minn. Stat. § 256.045,
subd. 7. Linehan has not pleaded that this state judicial
review was unavailable to him, or, if it was, that the
process was somehow insufficient to satisfy constitutional
requirements. For this reason, the Amended Complaint fails to
state a Section 1983 claim for deprivation of Linehan's
Fourteenth Amendment rights.
remaining constitutional rights Linehan identifies are
inapplicable to his situation, and so cannot form the basis
of a Section 1983 claim. The Fifth Amendment's Due Process
Clause is a restraint upon the federal government, not the
States. See, e.g., Dusenbery v. U.S., 534
U.S. 161, 167 (2002). Linehan explicitly alleges that Vang is
an employee of the Minnesota Department of Human Services,
not a federal employee, Am. Compl. 4, so the Fifth Amendment
does not apply. Further, Linehan's allegations clearly do
not involve a criminal prosecution, so his assertion of his
Sixth Amendment right to counsel is inapt. U.S. Const. amend.
VI. Similarly, because Linehan allegations involve an
administrative proceeding, his Seventh Amendment right to a
jury trial was not an issue. U.S. Const. amend. VII (applying
only to “Suits at common law”). Thus, taking all
the allegations as true, Linehan's Amended Complaint does
not state a deprivation of a constitutional right, and so
does not state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
set forth above, and based upon all the pleadings and the
record, the Court RECOMMENDS THAT:
1. The case be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for failing to
state a claim.
2. Linehan's Application to proceed IFP [ECF No. 2] be
DENIED AS MOOT.
3. Linehan's Motion to Appoint Counsel [ECF No. 3] be
DENIED AS MOOT.
4. Linehan's Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF No.
4] be DENIED AS MOOT.
5. Linehan's Motion for Summons [ECF No. 6] be DENIED ...