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Jensen v. Minnesota Department of Human Services

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 28, 2019

James and Lorie Jensen, as parents, guardians, and next friends of Bradley J. Jensen; James Brinker and Darren Allen, as parents, guardians, and next friends of Thomas M. Allbrink; Elizabeth Jacobs, as parent, guardian, and next friend of Jason R. Jacobs; and others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
Minnesota Department of Human Services, an agency of the State of Minnesota; Director, Minnesota Extended Treatment Options, a program of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, an agency of the State of Minnesota; Clinical Director, the Minnesota Extended Treatment Options, a program of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, an agency of the State of Minnesota; Douglas Bratvold, individually and as Director of the Minnesota Extended Treatment Options, a program of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, an agency of the State of Minnesota; Scott TenNapel, individually and as Clinical Director of the Minnesota Extended Treatment Options, a program of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, an agency of the State of Minnesota; and the State of Minnesota, Defendants.

          Shamus P. O'Meara, Esq., and Mark R. Azman, Esq., O'Meara Leer Wagner & Kohl, PA, counsel for Plaintiffs.

          Scott H. Ikeda, Aaron Winter, Anthony R. Noss, and Michael N. Leonard Assistant Attorneys General, Minnesota Attorney General's Office, counsel for State Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DONOVAN W. FRANK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Alter or Amend (Doc. No. 741 (“Motion”)) the Court's June 17, 2019 Order (Doc. No. 737 (“June 2019 Order”). Plaintiffs oppose Defendants' Motion. (Doc. No. 751 (“Opp.”).) For the reasons set forth below, the Court respectfully denies Defendants' Motion.

         BACKGROUND

         The factual background for the above-entitled matter is clearly and precisely set forth in the Court's June 2019 Order and is incorporated by reference here. (See June 2019 Order.) The Court notes particular facts relevant to this Order below.[1]

         The Court approved the parties' Stipulated Class Action Settlement Agreement (Doc. No. 136-1 (“Settlement Agreement”)) on December 5, 2011, and has maintained jurisdiction over the Settlement Agreement ever since.[2] (Doc. No. 136.) The Court's jurisdiction was originally scheduled to end on December 4, 2013. (Settlement Agreement at Section XVIII.B.) On August 28, 2013, the Court extended its jurisdiction to December 4, 2014 because of ongoing concern with Defendants' noncompliance with the Settlement Agreement. (Doc. No. 224 at 3.) At that time, the Court stated that it “expressly reserve[d] the authority and jurisdiction to order an additional extension of jurisdiction, depending upon the status of compliance by the Defendants with the specific provisions of the Settlement Agreement, absent stipulation of the parties.” (Id.)

         On September 3, 2014, the Court extended its jurisdiction again until December 4, 2016 because of continued concern with Defendants' noncompliance. (Doc. No. 340 at 14.) The Court expressly stated again that it “reserve[d] the authority and jurisdiction to order an additional extension of jurisdiction, depending upon the status of Defendants' compliance and absent stipulation of the parties.” (Id.)

         On February 22, 2016, the Court extended its jurisdiction a third time until December 4, 2019. (Doc. No. 545 at 6.) The Court reiterated that it “reserve[d] the authority and jurisdiction to order an additional extension of jurisdiction, depending upon the status of Defendants' compliance and absent stipulation of the parties.” (Id.)

         Defendants filed an objection to the Court's ongoing jurisdiction over this matter on April 28, 2017. (Doc. No. 631.) The Court overruled Defendants' objection on June 28, 2017. (Doc. No. 638.) Defendants appealed the Court's decision to the Eighth Circuit on July 26, 2017. (Doc. No. 639.) The Eighth Circuit affirmed this Court's jurisdiction on July 26, 2018, holding that that this Court may extend its jurisdiction as it deems “just and equitable.” (Doc. No. 695 at 12.)

         On January 4, 2019, the Court amended Defendants' scheduled reporting requirements and required them to submit a comprehensive summary report (“Summary Report”) to assess Defendants' overall compliance with the Agreement. (See generally Doc. No. 707.) The Court stated, “[a]s the December 4, 2019 date approaches, the Court must evaluate Defendants' compliance to assess the impact of the Jensen lawsuit on the well-being of its class members and to determine whether the Court's jurisdiction may equitably end.” (Id. at 6 (emphasis added).) The Court advised that it would discuss the Summary Report at a Biannual Reporting Conference on April 16, 2019 (“Status Conference”). (Id. at 13.) Defendants timely submitted the Summary Report on March 19, 2019 and self-assessed as fully compliant with the Agreement. (Doc. No. 710.)

         Prior to the Status Conference, both Plaintiffs and Consultants submitted letters detailing specific concerns with Defendants' reporting and potential areas of non- compliance with the Agreement. (See Doc. Nos. 726, 727, 730.) Defendants also submitted a letter, asking the Court to address the applicable legal standard the Court is using to determine the circumstances under which it will end its involvement in this matter, including what specific actions remain outstanding. (Doc. No. 731 (“Letter”).) The day before the Status Conference, Plaintiffs filed a response to Defendants' Letter, specifically asking the Court to consider extending its jurisdiction. (Doc. No. 732 at 5.) The Court filed an agenda (Doc. No. 733 (“Agenda”) for the Status Conference that identified specific areas of concern and directed Defendants to respond to these concerns during the Status Conference.[3] (Agenda at 5-6.)

         During the Status Conference, the Court specifically stated that the objective of the Status Conference was to assess Defendants' compliance with the Agreement, to identify next steps, and to determine whether “there was a way for the parties and the Court, as [ ]each deem[s] it just and equitable, to bring . . . the Court's jurisdiction [over] this matter, to an end.” (Doc. No. 740 (“Transcript”) at 8-9.) The parties disagreed over the state of Defendants' compliance with the Agreement. While Defendants claimed that they were in full compliance with the Agreement and asked the Court to end its jurisdiction immediately (Transcript at 10, 11, 154), Plaintiffs ...


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