United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Donald P. Vogel, Plaintiff,
Thomas Roy et al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Wilhelmina M. Wright United States District Judge.
civil rights action, Defendants Thomas Roy, Commissioner of
the Minnesota Department of Corrections, and Patrick
Courtney, Minnesota Department of Corrections Program Manager
of Records and Sentence Administration, move for summary
judgment. (Dkt. 16.) For the reasons addressed below,
Defendants' motion is granted.
Donald P. Vogel commenced this civil rights action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 on July 31, 2017, more than 10 years after
pleading guilty to first-degree driving while impaired (DWI),
a violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 169A.20, subd. 1,
169A.24. Vogel alleges that he was unlawfully incarcerated
for purported violations of conditional release terms that
were not imposed as part of his 2006 sentence.
imposing a custodial sentence for a first-degree DWI offense,
a Minnesota District Court must also direct the commissioner
of corrections to “place the person on conditional
release for five years” following the period of
incarceration. Minn. Stat. § 169A.276, subd. 1(d).
However, the District Court's “failure . . . to
direct the commissioner of corrections to place the person on
conditional release, as required in [Section 169A.276, subd.
1(d)], does not affect the applicability of the conditional
release provisions to the person.” Id. Until
2011, the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC)
interpreted Section 169A.276, subd. 1(d), as a requirement to
place a first-degree DWI offender on conditional release for
five years even when the sentencing court did not impose a
conditional release term in its judgment and warrant of
2011, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that, unless the
sentencing court expressly includes conditional release as
part of the offender's sentence, the imposition of
conditional release is not authorized under Section 169A.276,
subd. 1(d). Newcomb v. Roy, No. A10-2075, 2011 WL
2437489 (Minn.Ct.App. June 20, 2011). After the
Newcomb decision, the DOC commenced an audit of
sentences imposed for first-degree DWI to determine whether
any offender had been placed on conditional release without
an express pronouncement of conditional release as a part of
the sentence imposed. When the DOC audited Vogel's
sentence, he was incarcerated for violating his conditional
release although it had not been imposed as a part of his
sentence. The DOC released Vogel from prison on March 1,
of Vogel's complaint alleges that his imprisonment for
the nine months following the Newcomb decision
violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution. Count II alleges that Defendants violated the
Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States
Constitution by acting with deliberate indifference when they
imposed a term of conditional release after the expiration of
Vogel's “judicially imposed sentence.” And
Count III alleges a Minnesota tort claim of false
imprisonment. Defendants Roy and Courtney seek summary
judgment on multiple grounds.
judgment is properly granted when the evidence, as viewed in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, establishes
that there is “no genuine dispute as to any material
fact” and the moving party is “entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a);
see also Windstream Corp. v. Da Gragnano, 757 F.3d
798, 802-03 (8th Cir. 2014). Vogel concedes that there are no
disputed material facts, and he agrees with Defendants'
legal analysis. As such, Vogel concedes that Defendants are
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Two grounds for
summary judgment that Defendants advance are dispositive, and
the Court addresses each in turn.
Defendants argue that Vogel's Section 1983 claims, Counts
I and II, are barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S.
477 (1994). A plaintiff cannot successfully challenge under
Section 1983 the validity of a conviction or the length of
imprisonment unless “the conviction or sentence has
been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order,
declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such
determination, or called into question by a federal
court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.”
Id. at 486-87. Defendants argue that, because Counts
I and II of Vogel's complaint challenge the validity and
length of his imprisonment, and his sentence has not been
reversed, expunged, or declared invalid by an authorized
state tribunal, Heck's
“favorable-termination rule” has not been
concedes that Counts I and II of his complaint challenge the
validity and length of his imprisonment during the
conditional-release phase of his sentence. He also concedes
that Newcomb did not invalidate his sentence
because, as an unpublished decision of the Minnesota Court of
Appeals, Newcomb lacks precedential value.
See Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3(c). This
Court agrees. Because Vogel's sentence has not been
reversed, expunged, or declared invalid by a state tribunal
authorized to make such determination, Vogel's federal
claims, Counts I and II, are barred. See Heck, 512
U.S. at 486-87.
III, Vogel's Minnesota false-imprisonment claim, is
barred by the two-year statute of limitations for such
claims. See Minn. Stat. § 541.07(1); see
also Mellett v. Fairview Health Servs., 634 N.W.2d 421,
423 (Minn. 2001) (applying the two-year statute of
limitations for false-imprisonment claims). Vogel's
false-imprisonment claim accrued on March 1, 2012, the date
of his release from DOC confinement. See Id. at 424
(concluding that plaintiff's false-imprisonment claim
accrued on the date the alleged imprisonment ended). But
Vogel commenced this action on July 31, 2017, more than three
years after the statute of limitations expired on March 1,
2014. For this reason, Vogel's state-law claim for false
imprisonment, Count III, is time-barred.
Vogel's complaint also names as defendants “John
and Jane Doe” and “John and Jane Roe, ”
employees of the Minnesota DOC. But Vogel has not established
the identity of these individuals, and the deadline to amend
the pleadings has passed. As such, Vogel's complaint is
dismissed without prejudice as to these unnamed defendants.
See, e.g., Estate of Rosenberg ex rel. Rosenberg
v. Crandell, 56 F.3d 35, 37 (8th Cir. 1995) (affirming
dismissal of unidentified defendants about whom no factual
allegations were made); Gold Star Taxi & Transp.
Serv. v. Mall of Am. Co., 987 F.Supp. 741, 753 (D. Minn.
1997) (dismissing claims against ten “John Doe