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Dalrymple v. Dooley

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

March 25, 2014

DANIEL R. DALRYMPLE and LESLIE W. WHITE, JR., Plaintiffs,
v.
ROBERT DOOLEY, Warden; JENNIFER STANWICK, Associate Warden; SUE JACOBS, Associate Warden; MR. MAJOR TJEERDSMA; MS. JACKIE PETERSON; MS. ST. PIERRE; MR. CORY NELSON; MR. TOM GILLCHEST; MR. FITCH; MR. TRAVIS TJEERDSMA; MS. TAMMY DOYLE; MS. LORI DROTZMAN; MR. TREVOR PASCH; MR. GREG KATHAN; MS. KIM LIPPENCOTTE; MR. SUNNY WALTERS; MR. LANE SCHRYVERS; MR. JOSHUA KLIMEC; MR. JIM HALZEY; MR. SGT. GARY CHRISTENSEN; MS. NANCY CHRISTENSEN; MS. DIANE ROMKEMA; MR. MARK BIDNE; MS. C. GROSSHEESCH; MR. HENVEY; MR. CPL. ROMKEMA; MR. SGT. JERRAME LARSON; MR. LT. GROSSHEESCH; MR. AVDOYAN; MR. CAPTION DOYLE; MS. MARROW; MR. LT. SESTAK; MS. DEB EILERS; and MR. MARK PISCHEL, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS AND EXTENDING DEADLINE FOR FILING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT BASED ON QUALIFIED IMMUNITY

KAREN E. SCHREIER, District Judge.

Plaintiffs, Daniel R. Dalrymple and Leslie W. White, Jr., filed a second amended complaint, which the court permitted by order dated May 30, 2013. Dockets 150, 157. On July 11, 2013, defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings and a motion to extend deadlines. Docket 161. To date, plaintiffs have failed to respond to either motion. For reasons set forth below, the court grants in part defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings and grants defendants' motion for an extension of time to file a motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The court reviews a motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) under the same standard that governs a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Westcott v. City of Omaha , 901 F.2d 1486, 1488 (8th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted). "Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate when there are no material facts to resolve and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Mills v. City of Grand Forks , 614 F.3d 495, 497-98 (8th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). "The facts pleaded by the non-moving party must be accepted as true and all reasonable inferences from the pleadings should be taken in favor of the non-moving party." Id. (citation omitted). Nonetheless, "[t]he facts alleged in the complaint must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Clemons v. Crawford , 585 F.3d 1119, 1124 (8th Cir. 2009). "The court may consider the pleadings themselves, materials embraced by the pleadings, exhibits attached to the pleadings, and matters of public record." Id. (citation omitted); see also Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1371, at 276 (2004) ("Conversion... will not occur with regard to all matters subject to judicial notice and things that are central or integral to the nonmoving party's pleading.").

Pro se complaints, "however inartfully pleaded, ' [are] held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Estelle v. Gamble , 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) (quoting Haines v. Kerner , 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)). Nonetheless, a pro se complaint must comply with the minimal requirements set forth in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which specifically require pleadings to contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although a pro se complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must contain "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A pro se complaint must "allege facts sufficient to support the claims advanced." Stone v. Harry , 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004). The court is not required to "supply additional facts, nor will [it] construct a legal theory that assumes facts that have not been pleaded." Id. (citing Dunn v. White , 880 F.2d 1188, 1197 (10th Cir. 1989)). If the complaint does not contain these bare essentials, dismissal is appropriate. Beavers v. Lockhart , 755 F.2d 657, 663 (8th Cir. 1985).

I. The Court Denies Defendants' Motion Related to Previously Asserted and Dismissed Claims.

On January 2, 2013, the court issued an order dismissing the majority of plaintiffs' claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Docket 103. Nonetheless, in their second amended complaint, plaintiffs reasserted three of the previously dismissed claims. Docket 150-1. Defendants argue that the mere fact that plaintiffs reasserted previously dismissed claims is grounds for dismissing Counts 5, 6, and 17 from the second amended complaint. Docket 162 at 2-3. Upon review, however, it appears that although the reasserted claims are similar to previously dismissed claims, plaintiffs have provided additional facts to state claims upon which relief may be granted and the prior order dismissing the claim was without prejudice.

In Count 5, Dalrymple asserts that despite meeting all requirements for admission into a firefighter training course, defendants Jacqueline Peters and Robert Dooley denied him admission.[1] Docket 150-1 at 8. Because other inmates were granted admission, Dalrymple alleges that defendants violated his rights under the Equal Protection Clause. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the government from unfairly discriminating between similarly situated groups. To invoke the protections of the Equal Protection Clause, a plaintiff must "allege he was a member of a protected class or that a fundamental right was violated." Phillips v. Norris , 320 F.3d 844, 848 (8th Cir. 2003).

If neither of those elements are alleged, a plaintiff must allege "that similarly situated classes of inmates are treated differently, and that this difference in treatment bears no rational relation to any legitimate penal interest." Weiler v. Purkett , 137 F.3d 1047, 1051 (8th Cir. 1998) (citing Timm v. Gunter , 917 F.2d 1093, 1103 (8th Cir. 1990)); see also Romer v. Evans , 517 U.S. 620, 631 (1996) (explaining that "if a law neither burdens a fundamental right nor targets a suspect class, we will uphold the legislative classification so long as it bears a rational relation to some legitimate end"). In the instant case, Dalrymple has not alleged that he is a member of a protected class or that defendants violated a fundamental right, but he has alleged that he was treated differently than similarly situated individuals. According all reasonable inferences from those facts to Dalrymple and seeing no evidence that the difference in treatment bears a rational relation to a legitimate penal interest, the court finds that Dalrymple has alleged an equal protection claim. Defendants are therefore not entitled to judgment on the pleadings with regard to Count 5.

In Count 6, Dalrymple asserts that defendants Tom Gilchrist and Cory Nelson acted with deliberate indifference toward his serious medical need-namely, a risk of suicide-by denying him appointments with the mental health staff.[2] To state a claim for deliberate indifference to medical needs under the Eighth Amendment, "a prisoner must allege acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs." Estelle , 429 U.S. at 106. More specifically, a prisoner must allege "(1) that [he] suffered [from] objectively serious medical needs and (2) that the prison officials actually knew of but deliberately disregarded those needs.'" Jolly v. Knudsen , 205 F.3d 1094, 1096 (8th. Cir. 2000) (quoting Dulany v. Carnahan , 132 F.3d 1234, 1239 (8th Cir. 1997)).

"A serious medical need is one that has been diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment, or one that is so obvious that even a layperson would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention.'" Coleman v. Rahija , 114 F.3d 778, 784 (8th Cir. 1997) (quoting Camberos v. Branstad , 73 F.3d 174, 176 (8th Cir. 1995)). Dalrymple now alleges that defendants denied him mental health care despite their knowledge that he had "a history of self harm and suicide." Docket 150-1 at 9. Because the Eighth Circuit has held that "the risk of suicide by a prisoner is considered a serious medical need, " the court finds that Dalrymple has sufficiently alleged a deliberate indifference claim. Gregoire v. Class , 236 F.3d 413, 417 (8th Cir. 2000). Defendants are therefore not entitled to judgment on the pleadings with regard to Count 6.

Finally, in Count 17, Dalrymple and White assert that defendant Jim Halzey denied them access to a typewriter. Docket 150-1 at 20. This claim is similar to the access to courts claim plaintiffs asserted in their original complaint, but this time plaintiffs have supplied additional facts.[3] In the second amended complaint, plaintiffs allege they were denied access to typewriters because they named Halzey in a lawsuit, whereas inmates who had not named Halzey in a lawsuit received access to typewriters.

Although plaintiffs characterized Count 17 as an access to courts claim, the court finds it is more properly construed as either an equal protection claim or a retaliatory discipline claim. As previously explained, to state a cognizable equal protection claim, a plaintiff must allege "that similarly situated classes of inmates are treated differently, and that this difference in treatment bears no rational relation to any legitimate penal interest." Weiler , 137 F.3d at 1051 (citing Timm , 917 F.2d at 1103). Here, Dalrymple and White allege that Halzey treated them differently than similarly situated individuals when he denied them access to the typewriter. According all reasonable inferences from those facts to plaintiffs and seeing no evidence that the difference in treatment bears a rational relation to a legitimate penal interest, the court finds that plaintiffs have stated an equal protection claim upon which relief may be granted.

Count 17 can also be construed as a retaliatory discipline claim. To establish a prima facie case of retaliatory discipline, a plaintiff must show that "(1) the prisoner exercised a constitutionally protected right; (2) prison officials disciplined the prisoner; and (3) exercising the right was the motivation for the discipline." Haynes v. Stephenson , 588 F.3d 1152, 1155 (8th Cir. 2009). Dalrymple and White have alleged each of these elements-they filed a legal action against Halzey, [4] Halzey subsequently denied them access to the typewriters, and plaintiffs' legal action was presumably the motivation for Halzey's discipline. Based on these facts, the court finds that plaintiffs have stated a retaliatory discipline claim upon which relief may be granted. Accordingly, defendants are not entitled to judgment on the pleadings with regard to Count 17.

II. The Court Grants Defendants' Motion Related to Defendants Not Properly Joined As Parties.

Defendants assert that Counts 2, 19, 24, 27, 31, 32, 33, 36, 39, and 68 should be dismissed because the facts asserted relate to defendants not named as parties to this action.[5] Docket 162 at 3. Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,

A person who is subject to service of process and whose joinder will not deprive the court of subject-matter jurisdiction must be joined as a party if:
(A) in that person's absence, the court cannot accord complete relief among existing parties; or
(B) that person claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that disposing of the action in the person's absence may:
(1) as a practical matter impair or impede the person's ability to protect their interest; or
(2) leave an existing party subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations because of the interest.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a)(1).

In the instant case, plaintiffs' complaint contains ten counts wherein the facts alleged relate to individuals or entities who have not been named as parties to this action.[6] Because "respondeat superior cannot be the basis of liability in a § 1983 action, " Givens v. Jones , 900 F.2d 1229, 1233 (8th Cir. 1990), the court would be unable to accord complete relief among existing parties in the event plaintiffs were entitled to relief on Counts 2, 19, 24, 27, 31, 32, 33, 36, 39, and 68. Further, the unnamed parties have not received notice of this action and are therefore unable to adequately protect their interests. In accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 19(a)(1), therefore, plaintiffs were required to join the parties from whom they seek relief in Counts 2, 19, 24, 27, 31, 32, 33, 36, 39, and 68. Because plaintiffs failed to do so, defendants are entitled to judgment on the pleadings with regard to Counts 2, 19, 24, 27, 31, 32, 33, 36, 39, and 68.

III. The Court Grants Defendants' Motion Related to Defendants Against Whom No Claims Are Asserted.

Defendants assert that plaintiffs' second amended complaint does not contain facts sufficient to support a claim against the following defendants: Trevor Pasch, Greg Kathan, Lane Schryvers, Gary Christensen, and Jerrame Larson. After reviewing the plaintiffs' second amended complaint, the court was unable to find facts sufficient to support claims against these individuals. The court will not construct a legal theory that assumes facts that have not been pleaded. Stone , 364 F.3d at 914 (citing Dunn , 880 F.2d at 1197). Accordingly, defendants Trevor Pasch, Greg Kathan, Lane Schryvers, Gary Christensen, and Jerrame Larson are entitled to judgment on the pleadings.

IV. The Court Grants In Part and Denies In Part Defendants' Motion Related to Claims Upon Which Relief May Not Be Granted.

Defendants move for the dismissal of the majority of the counts remaining in plaintiffs' second amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The court will address defendants' arguments and ...


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