Merryfield v. Jordan, No. 09-3002.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBaldock
Citation584 F.3d 923
PartiesDustin J. MERRYFIELD, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Don JORDAN, Secretary of Kansas SRS, in his official capacity; Mark Schutter, Superintendent, Larned State Hospital, in his official capacity; Brenda W. Hagerman, Legal Counsel for Larned State Hospital, in her official capacity; Leo Herman, SPTP Policy Director, Larned State Hospital, in his official capacity; Austin Deslauriers, SPTP Clinical Director, Larned State Hospital, in his official capacity, Defendants-Appellees.
Decision Date19 October 2009
Docket NumberNo. 09-3002.
584 F.3d 923
Dustin J. MERRYFIELD, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Don JORDAN, Secretary of Kansas SRS, in his official capacity; Mark Schutter, Superintendent, Larned State Hospital, in his official capacity; Brenda W. Hagerman, Legal Counsel for Larned State Hospital, in her official capacity; Leo Herman, SPTP Policy Director, Larned State Hospital, in his official capacity; Austin Deslauriers, SPTP Clinical Director, Larned State Hospital, in his official capacity, Defendants-Appellees.
No. 09-3002.
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.
October 19, 2009.

[584 F.3d 924]

Submitted on the briefs:*

Dustin J. Merryfield, Pro Se.

Danny J. Baumgartner, Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, Topeka, KS, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before LUCERO, BALDOCK, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.

BALDOCK, Circuit Judge.


Appearing pro se, Dustin J. Merryfield appeals from the district court's sua sponte dismissal of his action.1 Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm for substantially the same reasons stated by the district court. Further, we hold that Mr. Merryfield, who was civilly committed under the Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Act, Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 59-29a01 to 59-29a22 (KSVPA), is not a "prisoner" within the meaning of the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA), see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h), and therefore his application to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis (ifp) is not subject to the fee provisions applicable to "prisoners" set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

I. Background

After his commitment under the KSVPA, Mr. Merryfield was placed in the Sexual Predator Treatment Program (SPTP) at Larned State Hospital (Larned) in Larned, Kansas. He filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting a variety of claims against defendants in their official capacity relating to the conditions of his involuntary confinement at Larned and his treatment there.

584 F.3d 925

He sought declaratory and injunctive relief. He also filed motions to proceed ifp and to submit additional evidence, and for a restraining order, a temporary injunction, and the appointment of counsel.

The district court granted his ifp motion and examined his initial, sixty-six-page complaint under the screening mechanism inherent in 28 U.S.C. § 1915. In a lengthy and detailed order, the court identified a number of claims. We summarize those that Mr. Merryfield has sufficiently addressed in this appeal to permit review as follows: (1) his treatment was inadequate to secure his eventual release; (2) his placement in an intensive treatment unit violated substantive and procedural due process; (3) he was denied access to the courts; (4) Larned's grievance and disciplinary processes are constitutionally deficient; (5) he received inadequate medical and dental care; (6) he was unconstitutionally restrained; (7) his visitation and mail rights were violated; (8) he was subject to invasions of his privacy and to unconstitutional searches of his room and person; and (9) under the federal Constitution's Equal Protection Clause, civilly committed SVPs are entitled to treatment and conditions of confinement that meet or exceed those of prisoners in the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC).2 He requested the court to order his immediate release and to otherwise order defendants to bring the SPTP into compliance with constitutional standards.

The district court concluded that the complaint had a number of deficiencies, including that many of the claims lacked sufficient factual allegations and that Mr. Merryfield failed to allege either a constitutional violation, see, e.g., West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48, 108 S.Ct. 2250, 101 L.Ed.2d 40 (1988), actual injury, or that there were any continuing adverse effects from his past exposure to allegedly illegal conduct, which is required for prospective equitable relief under City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 102, 103 S.Ct. 1660, 75 L.Ed.2d 675 (1983). The court also found parts of several claims to be frivolous. As to one claim regarding a specific disciplinary action that allegedly violated Mr. Merryfield's procedural due process rights, the court concluded that not only did the claim lack sufficient factual detail, but the abstention doctrine of Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 91 S.Ct. 746, 27 L.Ed.2d 669 (1971), barred consideration of it because a claim regarding the same disciplinary action was pending before a Kansas state court. The district court also concluded that any implicit challenge to the constitutionality of the KSVPA was foreclosed by Kansas v. Hendricks, 521 U.S. 346, 117 S.Ct. 2072, 138 L.Ed.2d 501 (1997), and that the sole remedy for Mr. Merryfield's request for release from confinement was a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. As to his equal protection challenge, the court concluded that Mr. Merryfield failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted because he is not similarly situated to KDOC prisoners, none of the privations of which he complained involved a fundamental right, and he alleged no facts indicating that any restrictions are not rationally related to a...

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88 practice notes
  • Jager v. InFirst Bank (In re Jager), Bankr. No. 18-70541-JAD
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Third Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Western District of Pennsylvania
    • 25 Noviembre 2019
    ...With this standard in mind, the Court is not required to assume the role of advocate on behalf of a pro se party. Merryfield v. Jordan, 584 F.3d 923, 924 n. 1 (10th Cir. 2009). Nonetheless, courts applying the liberal pleading requirement have concluded that courts interpret a pro se pleadi......
  • Compton v. Moschell (In re Moschell), Bankruptcy No. 19-21819-JAD
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Third Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Western District of Pennsylvania
    • 25 Octubre 2019
    ...With this standard in mind, the Court is not required to assume the role of advocate on behalf of a pro se party. Merryfield v. Jordan, 584 F.3d 923, 924 n. 1 (10th Cir. 2009). However, courts applying the liberal pleading requirement have concluded that courts interpret a pro se pleading a......
  • Burch v. Jordan, Case No. 07-3236
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • 22 Diciembre 2010
    ...v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307, 319-22 (1982)). 85.457 U.S. 307 (1982). 86.Seling v. Young, 531 U.S. 250, 265 (2001); see Merryfieldv. Jordan, 584 F.3d 923, 925-26 (10th Cir. 2009) (affirming district court's decision to dismiss plaintiff's complaint because "none of the privations of which he......
  • Reinert v. Bould (In re Reinert), Bankruptcy No. 11-22840-JAD
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Third Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Western District of Pennsylvania
    • 12 Marzo 2015
    ...the law is clear in that the Court is also not required to assume the role of advocate on behalf of Mr. Reinert. See Merryfield v. Jordan, 584 F.3d 923, 924 n.1 (10th Cir. 2009).IV.DISMISSAL FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM Mr. Reinert's Second Amended Complaint is 23 pages long consisting of 1......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
88 cases
  • Jager v. InFirst Bank (In re Jager), Bankr. No. 18-70541-JAD
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Third Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Western District of Pennsylvania
    • 25 Noviembre 2019
    ...With this standard in mind, the Court is not required to assume the role of advocate on behalf of a pro se party. Merryfield v. Jordan, 584 F.3d 923, 924 n. 1 (10th Cir. 2009). Nonetheless, courts applying the liberal pleading requirement have concluded that courts interpret a pro se pleadi......
  • Compton v. Moschell (In re Moschell), Bankruptcy No. 19-21819-JAD
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Third Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Western District of Pennsylvania
    • 25 Octubre 2019
    ...With this standard in mind, the Court is not required to assume the role of advocate on behalf of a pro se party. Merryfield v. Jordan, 584 F.3d 923, 924 n. 1 (10th Cir. 2009). However, courts applying the liberal pleading requirement have concluded that courts interpret a pro se pleading a......
  • Burch v. Jordan, Case No. 07-3236
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • 22 Diciembre 2010
    ...v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307, 319-22 (1982)). 85.457 U.S. 307 (1982). 86.Seling v. Young, 531 U.S. 250, 265 (2001); see Merryfieldv. Jordan, 584 F.3d 923, 925-26 (10th Cir. 2009) (affirming district court's decision to dismiss plaintiff's complaint because "none of the privations of which he......
  • Reinert v. Bould (In re Reinert), Bankruptcy No. 11-22840-JAD
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Third Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Western District of Pennsylvania
    • 12 Marzo 2015
    ...the law is clear in that the Court is also not required to assume the role of advocate on behalf of Mr. Reinert. See Merryfield v. Jordan, 584 F.3d 923, 924 n.1 (10th Cir. 2009).IV.DISMISSAL FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM Mr. Reinert's Second Amended Complaint is 23 pages long consisting of 1......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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