Ritchie v. DesLauriers et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER- IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, or in the alternative, For a More Definite Statement 21 MOTION to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, or in the alternative, For a Mor e Definite Statement is granted in part and denied in part. The court dismisses only the claims for injunctive relief as moot. The court denies the motion for a more definite statement. Signed by District Judge Carlos Murguia on 10/19/2017.Mailed to pro se party Randall J. Ritchie by regular mail (ydm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
RANDALL J. RITCHIE,
Case No. 17-3003
AUSTIN DESLAURIERS, et al.,
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Plaintiff Randall J. Ritchie brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants
Austin DesLauriers, Michael Dixon, Bill Rein, and Tim Keck. Plaintiff claims that defendants violated
his constitutional rights. Specifically, plaintiff claims that defendants failed to provide adequate
treatment for plaintiff in the Kansas Sexual Predator Treatment Program (“SPTP”)—preventing
plaintiff’s progress through the SPTP stages and denying him a realistic opportunity to reintegrate into
society. Plaintiff argues that these actions violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the
United States Constitution. Further, plaintiff argues that his civil commitment due to past criminal
behavior violates his Fifth Amendment protection against double jeopardy. Plaintiff seeks complete
release, along with declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief.
The matter is before the court on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint, or in
the alternative, For a More Definite Statement. (Doc. 21.) Defendants argue that plaintiff’s complaint
is moot and should be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1). In the alternative, defendants request a more definite statement under Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 12(e), 8(a)(2), and 8(d)(1). For the reasons set forth below, the court grants
defendants’ motion in part and denies it in part.
Plaintiff filed this action pro se on January 4, 2017. (Doc. 1.) The next day, United States
District Judge Sam Crow deemed the complaint deficient, in part, for failure to use court-approved
forms. (Doc. 4.) Plaintiff refiled his complaint on court-approved forms on February 8, 2017. (Doc.
5.) Plaintiff’s second complaint is shorter than the first complaint and organized according to courtapproved forms. Id. Plaintiff further amended his complaint on March 28, 2017 to include the results
of a polygraph test. (Doc. 12.) In his complaint, plaintiff prays for immediate release from SPTP with
prejudice, declaratory relief, injunctive relief, removal of plaintiff’s Sexually Violent Predator (“SVP”)
label, and monetary damages.
Since filing the complaint, plaintiff has been placed on transitional release by the Kansas
District Court. (Doc. 24, at 10.) Transitional release allows individuals in the SPTP to begin
community reintegration. (Doc. 22, at 3.) To achieve reintegration, individuals relocate to a halfway
house, work release, sexually violent predator treatment facility, or other similar placement. (Id.)
Defendants argue that plaintiff’s claims are moot due to his transitional release. But plaintiff
responds that a transitional release is not the full release he seeks and it does not relieve defendants of
liability for violating federal rights. (Doc. 26, at 2.) In the alternative, defendants move for a more
definite statement for the original pleading in Document 1.
A. Pro Se Pleadings
As plaintiff proceeds pro se, the court must construe his pro se filed documents liberally.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Even if drafted inartfully, a pro se pleading is held to a
less stringent standard than lawyer-drafted pleadings. Id. If a court could reasonably read the
pleadings to find a claim on which plaintiff could prevail, it should do so, regardless of confusion of
legal theories, poor grammar, unfamiliarity with pleading requirements, or failure to cite proper legal
authority. Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). The court should not, however,
assume the role of advocate for the litigant. Id.
B. Mootness - Rule 12(b)(1)
Defendants argue this court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(1), because plaintiff’s claims are moot. Mootness is a threshold inquiry “because the existence
of a live case or controversy is a constitutional prerequisite to the jurisdiction of the federal courts.”
United States v. Fisher, 805 F.3d 982, 989 (10th Cir. 2015) (quoting In re L.F. Jennings Oil Co., 4
F.3d 887, 889 (10th Cir. 1993)). To maintain the case or controversy requirement, litigants must have
a personal stake in the lawsuit and its outcome. Id. A litigant lacks a personal stake if the injury is
healed by an event or only prospective relief is sought. S. Utah Wilderness Alliance v. Smith, 110 F.3d
724, 727 (10th Cir. 1997). The essential question to ask is: “have circumstances changed since the
beginning of litigation that forestall any occasion for meaningful relief?” Id. If this has occurred, the
case is moot. Brown v. Buhman, 822 F.3d 1151, 1166 (10th Cir. 2016) (citation omitted); Alexander v.
Yale Univ., 632 F.2d 178, 183 (2d Cir. 1980).
C. Motion for a More Definite Statement – Rules 12(e), 8(a)(2), and 8(d)(1)
Despite pro se pleadings being held to a liberal standard, pro se filings must still follow the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Williamson v. Owners Resort & Exch., 90 F. App’x 342, 345 (10th
Cir. 2004). Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party is entitled to a more definite statement
if the statement is “so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Fed.
R. Civ. P. 12(e). A complaint must be a “short and plain statement of the claim,” which gives
defendant fair notice of plaintiff’s claims. Id. at 8(a)(2); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545
(2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 255 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). When a party moves for a more definite
statement, the moving party must “point out the defects complained of and details desired.” Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(e). Further, motions for more definite statements are generally disfavored by the courts.
Resolution Trust Corp. v. Thomas, 837 F. Supp. 354, 355 (D. Kan. 1993).
Applying the legal standards for mootness above, the court determines that plaintiff’s claims
for injunctive relief are moot due to his transitional release. As transitional release allows reintegration
into society, plaintiff no longer needs injunctive relief for defendants’ conduct that prevented his
reintegration to society. Due to these changes in circumstance, plaintiff no longer has an injury
redressable by injunction. Under the case and controversy requirement of the U.S. Constitution, this
court therefore dismisses plaintiff’s injunctive relief claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Conversely, transitional release does not prevent this court from being able to grant the other
types of relief plaintiff seeks. Defendants have not met their burden to show how transitional release
remedies all of plaintiff’s claims. While circumstances have changed via the transitional release, the
change does not prevent the court from being able to grant complete release, award damages for past
wrongs, re-evaluate the label of a SVP, or declare defendants’ acts unconstitutional. Transitional
release is not the complete release plaintiff seeks. Therefore, plaintiff’s complaint is not moot for the
remedies of complete release, damages, labeling of SVP, or declaratory relief.
Motion for a More Definite Statement
The court denies defendants’ motion for a more definite statement. Defendants base their
arguments on the original complaint, Document 1. But plaintiff amended his complaint as Document
5. Although defendants filed their motion three months after plaintiff amended his complaint, they still
base all their arguments on Document 1. The court therefore denies the motion for a more definite
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint,
or in the alternative, For a More Definite Statement (Doc. 21) is granted in part and denied in part.
The court dismisses only the claims for injunctive relief as moot. The court denies the motion for a
more definite statement.
Dated this 19th day of October, 2017, at Kansas City, Kansas.
s/ Carlos Murguia_____
United States District Judge
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