United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Alexandra Noelle Hussey, plaintiff pro se.
Kathryn Fodness, Minnesota Attorney General counsel for
S. Doty, Judge
matter is before the court upon defendants' motion to
dismiss, plaintiff's motion for leave to amend, and
defendants' motion to strike. Based on a review of the
file, record, and proceedings herein, and for the following
reasons, the court grants the motion to dismiss, denies the
motion for leave to amend, and denies the motion to strike as
civil rights dispute arises out of plaintiff Alexandra Noelle
Hussey's interactions with defendants between 2007 and
2014. Hussey alleges that defendants illegally forced her to
withdraw from a state-administered vocational rehabilitation
program and made false statements about her in a 2014
is a legally blind Minnesota resident. Am. Compl. at 9.
Defendant Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB)
provides counseling, training, professional development, and
job placement services for the visually impaired.
Id. SSB is a division of defendant Minnesota
Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), a
state agency. Id. From 1996 through 2014, SSB
provided Hussey with vocational rehabilitation services and
support to start a horticulture business. Id. The
individual defendants - Carol Pandow, Brianna Mehr, Natasha
Lemler, and Maurita Christensen - were DEED employees who
provided services and counseling to Hussey. Id.
Vocational Rehabilitation Services
2007, Hussey, a student and employee at the University of
Minnesota, was enrolled in a vocational rehabilitation
services program through SSB. Id. at 7. Through that
program, Hussey received a monthly living stipend and job
placement assistance. Id. As part of her job
placement assistance, Hussey was required to prepare an
independent plan for employment (IPE). Id.
spring of 2007, SSB asked Hussey to complete an updated IPE.
Id. Hussey was reluctant to do so because she
believed that the updated information would cause her to lose
her stipend and job at the University of
Minnesota. Id. at 8-9. Hussey alleges that
she agreed to complete the updated IPE, but only after SSB
told her that it would terminate her stipend if she did not
do so. Id. at 8.
thereafter, Hussey found temporary employment through the
AmeriCorps Vista program. Id. Hussey continued to
work with SSB to find permanent employment. Id. In
late 2007, SSB assigned Hussey a vocational rehabilitation
counselor (VRC). Id. Hussey told her VRC that she
wanted to become an environmental lawyer, but claims that the
VRC was condescending and did not help her with job placement
or law school applications. Id. at 9. SSB assigned
Hussey a new VRC, but Hussey claims that the new VRC also
failed to properly assist her. Id.
2008, Hussey was scheduled to interview for a permanent
position at Lutheran Social Services. Id.
Hussey's new VRC recommended that she not pursue the
position because it required a valid driver's license,
which she did not have. Id. The VRC also dissuaded
Hussey from pursuing a temporary position with the University
of Minnesota. Id. at 10. Instead, the VRC
recommended that Hussey attend training at Vision Loss
Resources. Id. Hussey agreed to the training but
found the experience “odd” because it included
unusual braille and JAWS training. Id. Vision Loss
Resources released Hussey from the program in April 2009
following an argument she had with the project manager.
Id. According to Hussey, SSB blamed her for the
argument and suggested that she seek counseling. Id.
2011, Hussey secured permanent employment with Crisis
Connection. Id. at 12. She quit several months later
due to concerns that management did not treat employees and
clients properly. Id. Hussey also reported to her
VRC that she was bullied at Crisis Connection. Id.
She alleges that SSB did not address her concerns.
addition to providing rehabilitation services, SSB helped
Hussey start a small horticulture business between 2010 and
2014. Id. SSB approved Hussey's initial business
plan and provided funding for new supplies. Id. at
13. SSB later told Hussey, however, that she made too many
changes to her initial business plan and that she would have
to complete a revised plan. Id.
2013, SSB assigned Hussey yet another VRC, defendant Natasha
Lemler, to assist Hussey in revising her plan. Id.
Soon thereafter, Hussey requested another VRC because she
felt that Lemler did not timely respond to emails and was
difficult to work with. Id. at 13-14.
January 2014, Hussey met with defendant Carol Pandow to
discuss her business plan and her dissatisfaction with
SSB's assistance. Id. Pandow rejected
Hussey's business plan and requested that Hussey
undertake another assessment to determine suitable employment
opportunities. Id. Hussey disagreed that she needed
another assessment and appealed Pandow's decision to
SSB's workforce director. Id. It appears that
the director supported Pandow's decision. Id.
mid-2014, defendant Maurita Christensen completed
Hussey's revised assessment. Id. Hussey claims
that the assessment included false information about her
service dog's retirement date and other unspecified
defaming statements about her personality and “thought
processes.” Id. at 15. Hussey complained to
Pandow, who refused to amend the assessment. Id.
Pandow instead recommended that Hussey “work with her
team to resolve the problem.” Id.
alleges that the false information in the assessment caused
defendant Brianna Mehr to challenge her updated business
plan. Id. Hussey further alleges that SSB shared the
false information with “at least two others”
outside of SSB. Id. at 16-17. Hussey claims that SSB
staff ultimately ...