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Doe v. Peterson

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

May 11, 2018

JOHNNY DOE I, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated; JOHNNY DOE II, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated; JOHNNY DOE III, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated; JOHNNY DOE IV, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated; JOHNNY DOE V, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated; JOHNNY DOE VI, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated; and JOHNNY DOE VII, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated; Plaintiffs,
v.
DOUG PETERSON, Attorney General of the State of Nebraska, in his official capacity; JOHN A. BOLDUC, Colonel, Superintendent of Law Enforcement and Public Safety for the Nebraska State Patrol, in his official capacity; STATE OF NEBRASKA, RUSS STANCZYK, in his individual capacity; BRADLEY RICE, in his individual capacity; TOM SCHWARTEN, in his individual Capacity; DAVID SANKEY, in his individual capacity; and BRYAN TUMA, in his individual capacity; Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          LAURIE SMITH CAMP CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Motions to Dismiss, ECF Nos. 3 and 6, filed by Defendants Doug Peterson, John Bolduc, and the State of Nebraska. For the reasons stated below, the Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 3, will be denied as moot and the Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 6, will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are those alleged in the Amended Complaint, ECF No. 5, and assumed true for purposes of the pending Motions to Dismiss.

         This action is brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for monetary damages only. Each of the Plaintiffs is a current resident of Nebraska and, at some point prior to becoming a resident of Nebraska, “received a juvenile adjudication” for a sex offense while residing in another state. Am. Comp. ¶¶ 3-9, ECF No. 5, Page ID 23-4. Upon relocating to Nebraska, Plaintiffs were required to register under §§ 29-4003(1)(a)(iv)[1] or 29-4003(1)(b)(iii)[2] of the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA), Neb. Rev. Stat. § 29-4001 et seq.

         In A.W. v. Peterson et al., this Court permanently enjoined defendants associated with the state of Nebraska and Red Willow County, Nebraska, from enforcing § 29-4003(1)(a)(iv) against the plaintiff, who was “adjudicated delinquent” in a Minnesota juvenile court for a sex offense. 8:14CV256, 2016 WL 1092477 (D. Neb. March 21, 2016), aff'd A.W. v. Nebraska, 865 F.3d 1014 (8th Cir. 2017). After the Eighth Circuit affirmed this Court's decision to grant an injunction, the State of Nebraska “notified [seventy-four] individuals, including the plaintiffs, that they were no longer subject to” SORA's registration requirements. Am. Comp., ECF No. 5, Page ID 23.

         Although Plaintiffs are no longer required to register under SORA, they have brought this § 1983 action for damages as a result of their previously required registration, claiming violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV, Section 2, the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Plaintiffs did not respond to the Motions to Dismiss, ECF Nos. 3 and 6, filed by Peterson, Bolduc, and the State of Nebraska.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To satisfy this requirement, a plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Corrado v. Life Inv'rs Ins. Co. of Am., 804 F.3d 915, 917 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Barton v. Taber, 820 F.3d 958, 964 (8th Cir. 2016) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Zink v. Lombardi, 783 F.3d 1089, 1098 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678), cert. denied, 135 S.Ct. 2941 (2015). The complaint's factual allegations must be “sufficient to ‘raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'” McDonough v. Anoka Cty., 799 F.3d 931, 946 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). The Court must accept factual allegations as true, but it is not required to accept any “legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Brown v. Green Tree Servicing LLC, 820 F.3d 371, 373 (8th Cir. 2016) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Thus, “[a] pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” Ash v. Anderson Merchandisers, LLC, 799 F.3d 957, 960 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678), cert. denied, 136 S.Ct. 804 (2016).

         On a motion to dismiss, courts must rule “on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true, ” and “a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and ‘that a recovery is very remote and unlikely.'” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 & 556 (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)). “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief . . . [is] a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Mickelson v. Cty. of Ramsey, 823 F.3d 918, 923 (8th Cir. 2016) (alternation in original) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiffs' claims are brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Doug Peterson and John Bolduc, in their official capacities only, [3] and against the State of Nebraska directly. Plaintiffs do not seek any prospective or injunctive relief; they have requested only money damages. Plaintiffs cannot, however, maintain a § 1983 action for money damages against the State of Nebraska or against Peterson and Bolduc, in their official capacities.[4] McLean v. Gordon, 548 F.3d 613, 618 (8th Cir. 2008) (citing Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (“We hold that neither a State nor its officials acting in their official capacities are ‘persons' under § 1983.”); see also Howlett v. Rose, 496 U.S. 356, 365 (1990). Therefore, the § 1983 claims for monetary damages against the State of Nebraska and against Peterson and Bolduc, in their official capacities, will be dismissed, with prejudice.

         The Court notes that Defendants Russ Stanczyk, Bradley Rice, Tom Schwarten, David Sankey, and Bryan Tuma have been sued in their individual capacities only and have submitted a separate Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 19. This Motion is not ...


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