United States District Court, D. Minnesota
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
LEO I. BRISBOIS, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter comes before the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge pursuant to a general assignment, made in accordance
with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636, and upon
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. [Docket No. 76]. The Court
took Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 76],
under advisement upon the parties' written submissions.
(Order [Docket No. 85]).
reasons discussed herein, the undersigned recommends that
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 76], be
Terry Lee Branson, (hereinafter “Plaintiff”), is
currently civilly committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender
Program (hereinafter “MSOP”). (Amended Compl.
[Docket No. 53]). Plaintiff brings the present action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging generally that
Defendants Emily Piper, Nancy Johnson, Kevin D. Moser, Peter
D. Puffer, Terry K. Kneisel, Kathryn E. Lockie, Dr. Crystal
Leal, Brian S. Ninneman, Courtney Jo Menten, Nicole Vaineo,
Michael McEachran Jr., Kent Johansen, Deborah E. Becker,
Jamie R. Houk, and Paul Mayfield violated his constitutional
rights while he has been committed to the MSOP on the basis
of the following factual allegations.
February 4, 2016, and May 17, 2016, Defendant Johansen placed
into Plaintiff's medical file “treatment
notes” regarding Plaintiff's ineligibility to order
meals from vendors outside the MSOP. (Id. at 38).
These treatment notes provided that Plaintiff was ineligible
to participate in ordering food from vendors outside the MSOP
facility due to Plaintiff's failure to actively
participate in treatment which thereby prevented Plaintiff
from reaching the appropriate tier level required pursuant to
the MSOP Outside Orders Policy. (Id. at 10-11,
38). On September 8, 2016, Defendant Menton
placed a similar treatment note into Plaintiff's medical
file, and on October 28, 2016, Defendant Vaineo placed
another similar treatment note into Plaintiff's medical
file. (Id. at 38).
19, 2016, Plaintiff inquired as to the reasons the treatment
notes were placed in his medical file. (Id. at 38).
In response to Plaintiff's inquiry, Defendant Ninneman
informed Plaintiff that “[p]olicy was followed-You
should have received a MSOP Treatment Memo outlining which of
the expectations you did not meet per policy.”
(Id.). On May 31, 2016, Plaintiff sent a follow-up
inquiry to which Defendant Menten responded
that “Policy 420-5015 section A2 spells out the qualifications for
individuals who met the criteria for quarterly meal. I'd
encourage you to speak directly with those individuals if you
wish to see how they met those goals. I will not address
other clients [sic] treatment involvement, as it would
violate their privacy. Thanks.” (Id. at 39).
alleges that Defendants Leal, Ninneman, Menten, Vaineo,
Johansen, McEachran, Becker, Houk, and Mayfield constitute
Plaintiff's “treatment team.” (Id.
at 13-14). Plaintiff further alleges that this
“treatment team” is the team of persons who
decided that he was ineligible to participate in ordering
meals from vendors outside the MSOP facility. (Id.
at 13-14, 41).
refers collectively to Defendants Piper, Johnston, Moser,
Puffer, Kneisel, and Lockie as the Administration.
(Id. at 14). Plaintiff alleges that each member of
the Administration has “either participated in the
creation and/or application of MSOP Policy, Outside Order,
No. 420-5015.” (Id. at 14). As already noted,
it is this Outside Orders Policy which prevents Tier 1 and
Tier 2 MSOP client's from being eligible to participate
in ordering food from vendors outside the MSOP facility.
(Id. at 14, 41; MSOP Outside Orders Policy [Docket
maintains five Causes of Action asserting that, through the
implementation and application of the Outside Orders Policy,
Defendants “in their individual and official
capacities” have violated Plaintiff's Thirteenth
Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights as secured by the
United States Constitution, as well as, Plaintiff's right
to equal protection under the laws as secured by the Equal
Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.
(See, Amended Compl. [Docket No. 53]). As relief,
Plaintiff seeks monetary damages, as well as, injunctive and
declaratory relief. (Id. at 55-58).
Plaintiff attempts to place different descriptive labels on
his various purported Causes of Actions, he in fact bases
them all on factual allegations solely
related to the Defendants' alleged failure to allow
Plaintiff to order food from vendors outside the MSOP
facility. (See, Id.).
Standard of Review
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Steel
Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83,
94-95 (1998). “The requirement that jurisdiction be
established as a threshold matter spring[s] from the nature
and limits of the judicial power of the United States and is
inflexible and without exception.” Id.
(internal quotations and citations omitted). To invoke
federal question jurisdiction, a plaintiff must plead facts
supporting a cause of action arising under federal law or the
United States Constitution. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. A
complaint states a federal cause of action when it appears on
the face of a well-pleaded complaint. See gen.,
Oglala Sioux Tribe v. C&W Enterp., Inc., 487
F.3d 1129, 1131 (8th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted).
court does not obtain subject-matter jurisdiction just
because a plaintiff” purports to raise “a federal
question in his or her complaint. If the asserted basis of
federal jurisdiction is patently meritless, then dismissal
for lack of jurisdiction is appropriate.” Biscanin
v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., 407 F.3d 905, 907 (8th
Cir. 2005) (citations omitted) (citing Hagans v.
Lavin, 415 U.S. 528, 537-38 (1974)). In other words,
merely because a plaintiff states in the complaint that the
Court has subject matter jurisdiction does not make it so.
See, Id. It is the burden of the party
asserting jurisdiction to prove that jurisdiction exists.
VS Ltd. P'ship. v. Department of Hous. & Urban
Dev., 235 F.3d 1109, 112 (8th Cir. 2000). And a