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Piekkola v. Jackley

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

March 8, 2016

MAX PEIKKOLA, Plaintiff,
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, Case 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; TAMMY DOYLE, Unit Manager at the Mike Durfee State Prison; and STEVE REYNOLDS, previous supervisor of the automotive program, Mike Durfee State Prison, individual and official capacities, Defendants.




Plaintiff, Max Peikkola, 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, Tammy Doyle, and Steve Reynolds as defendants. Peikkola is an inmate at Mike Durfee State Prison (MDSP) in Springfield, South Dakota. The court “screened” Piekkola’s original complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915A. Docket 9. Piekkola now moves the court to reconsider this order, to grant him leave to amend his complaint, and grant him a preliminary injunction. Docket 11; Docket12; Docket 13. For the reasons stated below, the court grants Piekkola’s motion to amend, screens his amended complaint, 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). The court also denies Piekkola’s motion to reconsider.


According to the amended complaint, in 2011, Peikkola was an inmate at MDSP. Docket 12-1 at ¶ 23. While incarcerated, Peikkola went through chemical dependency treatment with counselor Karri Reynolds. Id. In October 2011, Peikkola was paroled to the Community Transition Program and began a relationship with Karri. Id. at ¶¶ 24, 26. Karri quit working for the South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS) before this relationship began. Id. at ¶ 27. Karri was married, however, to Steve Reynolds, an MDSP employee and a defendant in this action, but they were in the process of obtaining a divorce. Id. at ¶ 36.

The remaining background arises from three different arrests and their aftermath, one each in 2011, 2012, and 2015. In October or November 2011, Peikkola was arrested under the order of his parole agent, defendant Badure. Id. at ¶ 28. Badure was investigating Karri at the time of the arrest for a crime she allegedly committed while employed at DSS. Id. Peikkola was not under investigation and alleges that there was no cause to believe he had committed a crime and no reasonable suspicion that he had violated his parole. Id. The Department of Corrections found no basis for charging Karri after she passed a polygraph. Id. at ¶ 29. After ten days, defendants released Piekkola without charging him with a crime or a parole violation. Id. at ¶¶ 29-30.

While Peikkola was incarcerated on the parole detainer, defendant Summers seized his phone, searched the hard drive, and responded to texts as if he was Peikkola. Id. at ¶ 31. 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 Peikkola. Id. at ¶ 32.

In April 2012, Peikkola was arrested for driving under the influence, and he was incarcerated in the South Dakota State Penitentiary (SDSP). Id. at ¶ 33. After Peikkola’s arrest, Reynolds told Karri that he had offered to pay prisoners to attack Peikkola. Id. at ¶ 34. Peikkola told Associate Warden Jennifer Wagner about this threat. Id. at ¶ 35. Wagner placed an administrative override on Peikkola that kept him from being transferred to MDSP. Id. Instead, Peikkola 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 ¶ 36. Peikkola spoke to Karri every day on the telephone. Id. These calls were recorded, and Kaufenberg accessed them and allowed Reynolds access as well. Id. Kaufenberg also allowed Reynolds access to Peikkola’s institutional file. Id.

On October 31, 2013, Peikkola was paroled. Id. at ¶ 37. Piekkola alleges that the parole board was aware of his relationship with Karri and approved a plan that included their cohabitation. Id. After Peikkola’s release, Reynolds continued to send harassing and threatening messages to Peikkola and Karri. Id. at ¶ 38. In 2014, while working at MDSP, Reynolds made numerous negative remarks about Peikkola, including allegations about what Peikkola had done to Karri, Reynolds, and their families. Id. at ¶ 39. Peikkola claims Reynolds lied. Id. Reynolds also continued to offer rewards to inmates to attack Peikkola. Id. at ¶ 40. Defendants Dooley, Kaufenberg, Travis Tjeerdsma, Kelly Tjeerdsma, and Dustin Tjeerdsma knew about these threats. Id. In January 2015, Reynolds resigned from MDSP. Id. at ¶ 41.

In June 2015, Peikkola was arrested for “absconding from parole supervision” and was returned to SDSP. Id. at ¶ 42. Peikkola met with an admissions case manager, who was aware of Peikkola’s situation and thought he should not be sent to MDSP. Id. at ¶ 43. The case manager applied for another administrative override, but it was denied. Id. Worried for Piekkola’s safety, Karri called Warden Darin Young and explained the threats and danger Peikkola was in. Id. at ¶ 44. Warden Young said he was aware of the situation, but assured Karri that Peikkola would be safe from retaliation because Reynolds had resigned. Id.

On June 15, 2015, Piekkola was transfered to MDSP. Id. at ¶ 45. 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 ¶ 46. Dooley said he was aware of the situation and told Piekkola to speak to defendant Klimek or use the administrative grievance system to seek a remedy. Id. Piekkola attempted to utilize the administrative grievance system. Id. at ¶ 47. He outlined his issues in an informal request but was placed in administrative detention by DeJong and Travis Tjeerdsma for making the request. Id. He was released after one week without receiving a disciplinary report or a reason for his detention. Id. DeJong and Tjeerdsma harassed Piekkola while he was in detention, both commenting on his relationship with Karri. Id. at ¶ 48.

A few days after his release, Piekkola was issued a major rule infraction for unauthorized contact with a former employee. Id. at ¶ 49. Piekkola alleges that this must have referred to Karri and was issued by DeJong. Id. Piekkola alleges that Karri was never a DOC employee because she worked for DSS. Id. at ¶ 50. He also claims that the DOC does not have a rule “prohibiting contact between inmates and former DOC employees and/or contract employees unless the employee was fired for inappropriate contact with inmates or unless the employee resigned to avoid being fired for inappropriate contact with inmates.” Id. at ¶ 51. He claims that because Karri resigned, this rule is inapplicable. Id. Piekkola and Karri were in contact with each other previously without objection by DOC employees or the parole board. Id. at ¶ 52.

Klimek conducted a Unit Disclpinary Committee (UDC) hearing about the phone calls between Piekkola and Karri. Id. at ¶ 53. Klimek offered Piekkola a deal with less punishment, but Piekkola refused and requested to be heard by a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO). Id. During this hearing, defendant Stock found Piekkola guilty without hearing evidence that Piekkola contacted Karri or that he was not allowed to contact her. Id. at ¶ 56. Piekkola alleges that Stock was not an impartial decision maker because Stock previously made sexual advances to Karri. Id. at ¶¶ 54, 55. Piekkola was fined $50 and lost his phone privileges for sixty days. Id. at ¶ 56. Immediately after this hearing, DeJong deactivated Piekkola’s account. Id. at ¶ 57. He was warned that further contact with Karri in any form would result in serious consequences. Id. at ¶ 58.

In August 2015, Piekkola was again placed in administrative detention. Id. at ¶ 59. In his disciplinary report, DeJong said Piekkola used the phone, even though that was impossible because his account had been deactivated. Id. Klimek conducted a UDC hearing. Id. at ¶ 60. 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 ¶ 60.

Piekkola was transferred to the Yankton Trusty Unit on December 4, 2015. The following day, he was transferred back to MDSP and placed in administrative detention. Id. ¶¶ 62-63. On his return, Dejong charged Piekkola with a major rule infraction that alleges that Piekkola had called Karri and lied on his phone verification by putting a false name with Reynolds’ number. Id. at ¶ 64. Again, no evidence was offered. Id. Doyle conducted a UDC hearing. Id. at ¶ 65. Doyle offered a deal including loss of phone and care package privileges and time in administrative segregation, which Piekkola accepted. Id. at ¶¶ 65, 66.

On September 21, 2015, Piekkola filed his original complaint that raised seven claims and sought damages and equitable remedies. Docket 1. The court screened Piekkola’s complaint and dismissed his illegal incarceration, due process, and denial of access to the courts claims. The court also dismissed defendants Dooley, Kaemingk, Jackley, Gortmaker, Slate, Smith, and Badure. Docket 9. The court directed service of the remainder of the complaint on the remaining defendants. Id. The clerks’ office sent Piekkola summonses in order to serve defendants, but he did not fill them out as instructed. Docket 10. Instead, he filed a motion to reconsider. Docket 11. Before the court responded to that motion, he moved to amend his complaint, Docket 12, and for a preliminary injunction. Docket 13.


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).


I. Motion to Amend

As an initial matter, Piekkola moves to amend his complaint. Docket 12. “A party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within . . . 21 days after serving it.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(A). Piekkola’s complaint has not been served. Therefore, Piekkola is entitled to amend his complaint without leave of the court. His amended complaint, however, must be screened under § 1915A.

II. Screening Piekkola’s Amended Complaint

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, and he was defamed. Docket 12-1. Piekkola also ...

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