Prouty v. Miles et al
ORDER. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED: 1. Defendants' motion to dismiss 10 is GRANTED.2. Plaintiff Darrell D. Prouty's complaint 1 is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. (Written Opinion) Signed by Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright on 8/1/2022. (RJE)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Darrell D. Prouty,
Case No. 21-cv-2606 (WMW/TNL)
David N. Miles, Matt Dahl, Derek J.
Koecher, Jeremy Wuori, Suzanne A.
Swenson, Deborah K. Barron, Jessica J.
Joyal, David Borchardt, and Kristi Wagner,
Before the Court is Defendants David N. Miles, Matt Dahl, Derek J. Koecher,
Jeremy Wuori, Suzanne A. Swenson, Deborah K. Barron, Jessica J. Joyal, David Borchardt,
and Kristi Wagner’s unopposed motion to dismiss. (Dkt. 10.) For the reasons addressed
below, the Court grants Defendants’ motion to dismiss and dismisses without prejudice
Plaintiff Darrell D. Prouty’s complaint.
Prouty, who is civilly committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP)
in Moose Lake, commenced this lawsuit on December 2, 2021. Based on the mailing
addresses Prouty lists for Defendants, Defendants appear to be individuals associated with
MSOP in Moose Lake. Prouty alleges that Defendants violated his rights under the First,
Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Prouty, who
appears to allege that these constitutional violations amount to a deprivation of his right to
access the courts, asserts:
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Defendant(s) have intentionally and willfully conspired to
impede and block this (P)’s right to redress illegal activity in
all their performance of their duties while gainfully employed,
thus with the fullest intent to commit a criminal act and with
full intent to super impose against this (P)’s right to copy off
all legal manufactured document’s for the explicit purpose of
seeking damages and remedies for harms intentionally done
against this (P) and his legal rights under the U.S.
constitution . . . .
To remedy these alleged violations, Prouty requests that the Court grant him “unrestricted
freedom to make any type of documents . . . at all times.” Prouty also seems to request that
the Court prevent Defendants from using a “highly illegal document” to justify sanctioning
or restricting Prouty. Prouty requests that the Court order Defendants removed from their
jobs during the pendency of this lawsuit and that the Court penalize Defendants for any
retaliatory actions Defendants might take against Prouty.
On February 22, 2022, Defendants moved to dismiss Prouty’s complaint, arguing
that the complaint is deficient for three reasons: (1) it does not meet the pleading
requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) and does not plead the elements
required to establish standing; (2) it fails to allege that Defendants were personally involved
in unconstitutional conduct; and (3) it does not adequately plead a claim for violation of
any constitutional rights, including Prouty’s right to access the courts. Prouty did not
respond to Defendants’ motion to dismiss.
Defendants move to dismiss Prouty’s complaint for failure to state a claim on which
relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A complaint must contain “a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ.
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P. 8(a)(2). A plaintiff need not prove his case at the pleading stage. Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Nor do the pleadings require detailed factual
allegations to survive a motion to dismiss. Id.; L.L. Nelson Enters., Inc. v. County of St.
Louis, 673 F.3d 799, 805 (8th Cir. 2012) (observing that “specific facts are not necessary”
and pleadings “need only give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests” (internal quotation marks omitted)). To survive a motion to
dismiss, a complaint must allege sufficient facts to state a facially plausible claim to relief.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Factual
allegations that raise merely a speculative right to relief are insufficient. Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555. A district court accepts as true the plaintiff’s factual allegations and views them in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Stodghill v. Wellston Sch. Dist., 512 F.3d 472, 476
(8th Cir. 2008). Legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are not accepted as true,
however. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. And mere “labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action” fail to state a claim for relief. Id.
Although a pro se plaintiff’s complaint is construed liberally, the complaint
nonetheless must allege sufficient facts to support the plaintiff’s claims. See Stone v.
Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004). A district court may consider the complaint,
exhibits attached to the complaint, documents that are necessarily embraced by the
complaint, and relevant public records without converting the motion to dismiss into one
for summary judgment. Stahl v. U.S. Dep’t of Agric., 327 F.3d 697, 700 (8th Cir. 2003);
Mattes v. ABC Plastics, Inc., 323 F.3d 695, 697 n.4 (8th Cir. 2003).
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Prouty alleges that Defendants impeded his to access to the courts, in violation of
the First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The First Amendment’s freedom to
petition, made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause,
includes the right of access to the courts. See BE & K Constr. Co. v. N.L.R.B., 536 U.S.
516, 525 (2002). Prison officials may open privileged mail from an inmate’s attorney only
in the presence of the inmate and must do so without reading the inmate’s mail. See Wolff
v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 576–77 (1974); Jensen v. Klecker, 648 F.2d 1179, 1182 (8th
Cir. 1981). Prison officials also shall not impede an inmate from filing legal documents.
See, e.g., Ex parte Hull, 312 U.S. 546, 549 (1941). Providing incarcerated individuals
access to law library facilities is another way for prison officials to comply with their
obligation to “provide inmates with meaningful access to the courts.” Entzi v. Redmann,
485 F.3d 998, 1005 (8th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). But an inmate’s
right to access the courts does not require prisons or states to “enable the prisoner to
discover grievances, and to litigate effectively once in court.” Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S.
343, 354 (1996). An inmate alleging an unconstitutional interference with his access to the
courts must allege an actual injury. Id. at 351–52. In doing so, an inmate must demonstrate
that the alleged shortcomings in the prison policy hindered the inmate’s efforts to pursue a
legal claim. Id. at 351.
Here, Prouty fails to do so. He does not sufficiently allege shortcomings of MSOP’s
policies that hindered his efforts to pursue his legal claim, nor does he identify an actual
injury. Prouty alleges that MSOP officials engaged in “illegal tampering,” “harassing
enforcement,” “sanctions,” and “severe restriction[s].” But Prouty does not specify the
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conduct to which he objects, address how that conduct is unconstitutional, or describe what
injury he suffered as a result of the conduct. Because Prouty’s complaint does not allege
sufficient facts to state a facially plausible claim to relief against Defendants, the complaint
must be dismissed.
Based on the foregoing analysis and all the files, records and proceedings herein, IT
IS HEREBY ORDERED:
Defendants’ motion to dismiss, (Dkt. 10), is GRANTED.
Plaintiff Darrell D. Prouty’s complaint, (Dkt. 1), is DISMISSED
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.
Dated: August 1, 2022
s/Wilhelmina M. Wright
Wilhelmina M. Wright
United States District Judge
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