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Anderson v. Montana Fourth Judicial District Court

Supreme Court of Montana

March 21, 2017

MICHAEL T. ANDERSON, Petitioner,
v.
MONTANA FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, MISSOULA COUNTY and the HONORABLE JUDGE ROBERT DESCHAMPS, Respondents.

          ORDER

         Appearing as a self-represented litigant, Michael T. Anderson petitions this Court for supervisory control of the Fourth Judicial District Court, Missoula County, and the Honorable Robert Deschamps in that Court's Cause No. DV-16-638.[1] Anderson filed that case against his former employer, Bob Ward & Sons, Inc., and several individual fellow employees. Anderson's complaint seeks damages against Bob Ward for wrongful discharge and against the individual defendants for tortious interference with his employment relationship, as well as punitive damages. On October 21, 2016, the District Court granted Bob Ward's M. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the tortious interference and punitive damage claims on the ground that they are preempted by the Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act (WDEA). Anderson requests this Court to reverse that order.

         Anderson states that a writ is necessary to prevent a gross miscarriage of justice. He contends that the court "is legislating from the bench" because, based upon his review, neither the legislative record of § 39-2-901 to 39-2-915, MCA, nor this Court's precedent supports the court's rationale. He maintains that he lacks the financial wherewithal to wait until entry of final judgment for review of the issue. He lastly argues for assistance with photocopying costs because he claims a right under the Montana Constitution "to secure his ability to photocopy his legal instruments for filing in the Montana Courts."

         Supervisory control is an extraordinary remedy. We must find the existence of urgency or emergency factors that cannot adequately be addressed through the normal appeal process. M. R. App. P. 14(3). "This Court will assume supervisory control of a district court to direct the course of litigation where the district court is proceeding based upon a mistake of law, which if uncorrected, would cause significant injustice for which an appeal is an inadequate remedy." Redding v. Mont. First Judicial Dist. Ct., 2012 MT 144A, ¶ 18, 365 Mont. 316, 281 P.3d 189 (internal citation omitted).

         In dismissing Anderson's claims of tortious interference with employment and punitive damages, the District Court ruled that the WDEA '"provides the exclusive remedy for a wrongful discharge from employment.'" Great Falls Clinic LLP v. Mont. Eighth Judicial Dist. Ct., 2016 MT 245, ¶ 10, 385 Mont. 95, 381 P.3d 550, citing Blehm v. St. John's Lutheran Hospital, 2010 MT 258, ¶ 19, 358 Mont. 300, 246 P.3d 1024. The court also cited Solle v. Western States Ins., 2000 MT 96, ¶ 12, 299 Mont. 237, 999 P.2d 328, in which this Court observed that "§ 39-2-913, MCA, bars all claims arising from an asserted wrongful discharge based upon common law tort or implied or express contract." The court concluded that all of Anderson's tort claims were preempted because his claims arose under the WDEA. Final judgment was not entered because Anderson's WDEA claim remains for consideration.

         Upon review of the District Court's order and Anderson's submissions, this Court is not persuaded that the court has committed a legal error that may not adequately be remedied through the normal appeal process. We decline to address Anderson's additional arguments about unfairness of litigation and trials for self-represented litigants and his future complaint to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; these arguments are outside the scope of a petition for a writ of supervisory control of a district court. M. R. App. P. 14(3), 14(4), and 14(5). Finally, Anderson has no right for this Court to provide or require assistance with photocopying costs. "A denial of free photocopying does not amount to a denial of access to the courts." Johnson v. Moore, 948 F.2d 517, 521, 1991 U.S. App. LEXIS 23244, *9-10 (9th Cir. Wash. 1991). See also Sands v. Lewis, 886 F.2d 1166, 1169 (9th Cir. 1989) ("[N]umerous courts have rejected any constitutional right to free and unlimited photocopying").

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the petition for a writ of supervisory control is DENIED.

         The Clerk is directed to provide a copy of this Order to the Hon. Robert Deschamps, Fourth Judicial District Court, Missoula County; Shirley E. Faust, Clerk of District Court, Missoula County; to counsel of record; and to Michael T. Anderson personally.

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Notes:

[1] We have considered Anderson's petition not withstanding that it exceeds the 4, 000-word and twelve-page limit. M. R. App. P. 14(9)(b) states that: "All filings made pursuant to section (5)(a) of this rule shall conform to the requirements of rule 11, except that neither the text of the petition nor any response shall exceed 4, 000 words if proportionately spaced ...


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