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Piekkola v. Jackley

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

November 10, 2015

MAX PIEKKOLA, Plaintiff,
v.
MARTIN JACKLEY, Attorney General of South Dakota, individual and official capacities; BRYAN GORTMAKER, Special Assistant Attorney General, individual and official capacities; GRETCHEN SLATE, Special Assistant Attorney General, individual and official capacities; DENNIS KAEMINGK, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Corrections, individual and official capacities; J.C. SMITH, Regional Supervisor, South Dakota Parole Services, individual and official capacities; SAM BADURE, Manager for the DOC at the South Dakota State Penitentiary, individual and official capacities; ROBERT DOOLEY, Director of Prison Operations for the DOC, individual and official capacities; HUNTER SUMMERS, Special Security Lieutenant, South Dakota State Penitentiary, individual and official capacities; JOSH KLIMEK, Unit Manager, Mike Durfee State Prison, individual and official capacities; TAMMY DEJONG, Unit Coordinator, Mike Durfee State Prison, individual and official capacities; TRAVIS TJEERDSMA, Manager, Mike Durfee State Prison, individual and official capacities; KELLY TJEERDSMA, Corporal, Mike Durfee State Prison, individual and official capacities; DUSTIN TJEERDSMA, Correctional Officer, Mike Durfee State Prison, individual and official capacities; LEE KAUFENBERG, Special Security Captain, Mike Durfee State Prison, individual and official capacities; LYLE STOCK, Sergeant, Mike Durfee State Prison, individual and official capacities; and STEVE REYNOLDS, previous supervisor of the automotive program, Mike Durfee State Prison, individual and official capacities, Defendants.

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT IN PART AND DIRECTING SERVICE OF COMPLAINT

KAREN E. SCHREIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Max Piekkola, filed this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming Martin Jackley, Gretchen Slate, Dennis Kaemingk, J.C. Smith, Sam Badure, Robert Dooley, Hunter Summers, Josh Klimek, Tammy DeJong, Travis Tjeerdsma, Kelly Tjeerdsma, Dustin Tjeerdsma, Lee Kaufenberg, Lyle Stock, and Steve Reynolds as defendants. Piekkola is an inmate at Mike Durfee State Prison (MDSP) in Springfield, South Dakota. The court “screened” this complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and dismisses it in part for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. '' 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) & 1915A(b)(1).

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

According to the complaint, in 2011, Piekkola was an inmate at MDSP. Docket 1 at ¶22. While incarcerated, Piekkola went through chemical dependency treatment with counselor Karri Reynolds. Id. In October 2011, Piekkola was paroled to Community Transition Program. Id. at ¶23. After being paroled in October of 2011, Piekkola began a relationship with Karri. Id. at ¶24. Before this relationship began, Karri quit working for the South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS). Id. at ¶25. During the relationship, Karri was married to Steve Reynolds, an MDSP employee and a defendant in this action, but they were in the process of obtaining a divorce. Id. at ¶33.

The remaining background arises from three different arrests and their aftermath, one each in 2011, 2012, and 2015. In October or November 2011, Piekkola was arrested under parole officer defendant Badure’s order. Id. at ¶26. At the time of the arrest, Badure was investigating Karri for a crime she allegedly committed while employed at DSS. Id. Piekkola was not under investigation and alleges that there was no cause to believe he had committed a crime. Id. at ¶26. Department of Corrections found no basis for charging Karri after she passed a polygraph. Id. at ¶27.

While Piekkola was incarcerated on the parole detainer, defendant Summers seized his phone, searched the hard drive, and responded to texts as if he was Piekkola. Id. at ¶28. Summers did not have a warrant for this search. Id. During this time, 2011-12, defendants Kaufenberg, Travis Tjeerdsma, Kelly Tjeerdsma, Dustin Tjeerdsma, and Reynolds sent harassing and threatening messages to both Karri and Piekkola. Id. at ¶29.

In April 2012, Piekkola was arrested for driving under the influence and incarcerated in the South Dakota State Penitentiary (SDSP). Id. at ¶30. After Piekkola’s arrest, Reynolds told Karri that he had offered to pay prisoners to attack Piekkola. Id. at ¶31. Piekkola told Associate Warden Jennifer Wagner about this threat. Id. at ¶32. Wagner placed an administrative override on Peikkola that kept him from being transferred to MDSP. Id. Instead, Piekkola was sent to a minimum custody facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Id.

During this time, Reynolds and Karri were going through a divorce. Id. at ¶33. Piekkola spoke to Karri every day on the telephone. Id. Kaufenberg accessed recordings of these calls and shared them with Reynolds. Id. Kaufenberg also allowed Reynolds access to Piekkola’s institutional file. Id.

On October 31, 2013, Piekkola was granted parole. Id. at ¶34. The parole board approved a plan that included Piekkola living with Karri. Id. After Piekkola’s release, Reynolds continued to send harassing and threatening messages to Piekkola and Karri. Id. at ¶35. In 2014, while working at MDSP, Reynolds made numerous negative remarks about Piekkola, including what Piekkola had done to Karri, Reynolds, and their families. Id. at ¶36. Piekkola alleges that these were lies. Id. Steve Reynolds also made more offers to pay inmates to attack Piekkola. Id. at ¶37. Defendants Dooley, Kaufenberg, and Tjeerdsma (the complaint does not specify which Tjeerdsma) were aware of these threats. Id. In January 2015, Reynolds resigned from MDSP. Id. at ¶38.

In June 2015, Piekkola was arrested for “absconding from parole supervision” and was returned to SDSP. Id. at ¶39. Piekkola met with an admissions case manager who was aware of his situation and thought Piekkola should not be sent to MDSP. Id. at ¶40. The case manager applied for another administrative override; it was denied. Id. Karri called Warden Darin Young and explained the threats against Piekkola. Id. at ¶41. Warden Young said he was aware of the situation but assured Karri that Piekkola would be safe and there would be no retaliation because Reynolds had resigned. Id.

On June 15, 2015, Piekkola was transfered to MDSP. Id. at ¶42. During his orientation, a prison staff member used Piekkola as an example of how not to do time at MDSP. Id. On July 8, 2015, Piekkola spoke to Dooley and explained his concerns. Id. at ¶43. Dooley said he was aware of the situation and told Piekkola to speak to defendant Klimek or use the administrative remedies. Id. Piekkola attempted to utilize the administrative remedy system. Id. at ¶44. He outlined his issues in an informal request but was placed in administrative detention by DeJong and Tjeerdsma (the complaint does not specify which Tjeerdsma) for making the request. Id. He was released after one week without being given a disciplinary report or a reason for his detention. Id. He was, however, harassed while in detention by both DeJong and Tjeerdsma for his relationship with Karri. Id. at ¶45.

A few days later, Piekkola was issued a major rule infraction for unauthorized contact with a former employee. Id. at ¶46. Piekkola alleges that this must have referred to Karri and was issued by DeJong. Id. Piekkola argues that Karri was never a DOC employee; she worked for DSS. Id. at ¶47. Piekkola and Karri had been in contact with each other previously without objection by DOC employees or the parole board. Id. at ¶48.

Klimek conducted a Unit Disclpinary Committee (UDC) hearing about phone calls between Piekkola and Karri. Id. at 49. Klimek offered Piekkola a deal with less punishment. Id. Piekkola refused and requested a DHO hearing. Id. During this hearing, defendant Stock found Piekkola guilty without presenting evidence that Piekkola contacted Karri or that he was not allowed to contact her. Id. at ¶52. Piekkola alleges that Stock was not an impartial decision maker because Stock previously had made sexual advances to Karri. Id. at ¶¶50, 51. Piekkola was fined $50 and lost his phone privileges for sixty days. Id. at ¶52. Immediately after this hearing, DeJong deactivated Piekkola’s account. Id. at ¶53. He was warned that further contact with Karri in any form would result in serious consequences. Id. at ¶54.

In August 2015, Piekkola was again placed in administrative detention. Id. at ¶55. In his disciplinary report, DeJong said Piekkola had used the phone, even though she had made that impossible by deactivating his account. Id. Again, Klimek conducted a UDC hearing. Id. at ¶56. This time Piekkola accepted a deal because he had been punished so severely by an allegedly biased arbiter in the previous DHO hearing. Id. at ¶¶56, 57.

Piekkola is represented by attorney James Even in an unrelated matter. Id. at ¶58. Piekkola has not been able to contact Even due to his phone restriction, even though he has repeatedly requested leave to contact Even. Id. at ¶¶58, 59. Defendants also attempted to ensure that a money order sent by Even on September 2, 2015, was not received by Piekkola. Id. at ¶61. DeJong, Klimek, and Kaufenberg told Piekkola that Even would have to submit to an extensive background check in order to send money to Piekkola. Id. at ¶62. Even’s personal identifiers would then be available to all DOC staff. Id.

On September 11, 2015, Piekkola and another inmate were summoned to DeJong’s office. Id. at ¶63. DeJong and Klimek told the other inmate they thought he was helping Piekkola with his legal action, and he would be severely punished if he assisted Piekkola. Id.

Since July, Piekkola has sent numerous requests to meet with the prison contracted attorney, but they have been ignored. Id. at ¶64. Piekkola has sent five requests for case law, but these have also been ignored. Id. These requests are allegedly processed by Klimek, DeJong, and Tjeerdsma (the complaint does not specify which Tjeerdsma). Id.

On September 21, 2015, Piekkola filed this complaint. Docket 1. He raises seven claims. Id. In relief, Piekkola requests damages and equitable remedies. Id. For the reasons stated below, Piekkola’s complaint is dismissed in part and survives screening in part.

LEGAL STANDARD

The court must assume as true all facts well pleaded in the complaint. Estate of Rosenberg by Rosenberg v. Crandell, 56 F.3d 35, 36 (8th Cir. 1995). Civil rights and pro se complaints must be liberally construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Bediako v. Stein Mart, Inc., 354 F.3d 835, 839 (8th Cir. 2004). Even with this construction, “a pro se complaint must contain specific facts supporting its conclusions.” Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985); Ellis v. City of Minneapolis, 518 F. App’x 502, 504 (8th Cir. 2013).

A complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations . . . [but] requires 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). If it does not contain these bare essentials, dismissal is appropriate. Beavers v. Lockhart, 755 F.2d 657, 663 (8th Cir. 1985). Bell Atlantic requires that a complaint’s factual allegations must be “enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true.” Id. at 1965; see also Abdullah v. Minnesota, 261 F. App’x. 926, 927 (8th Cir. 2008) (citing Bell Atlantic noting complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations regarding all material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable legal theory).

DISCUSSION

Piekkola claims he was illegally incarcerated, he was subjected to an illegal search and seizure, his right to privacy was violated, his right to association was violated, he was deprived of property without due process, he was denied access to the courts, and he was defamed. Docket 1. Piekkola ...


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