Submitted on Briefs: November 15, 2017
FROM District Court of the Third Judicial District, In and
For the County of Powell, Cause No. DV-16-92 Honorable Ray
Dayton, Presiding Judge.
Appellant: Michael Ellenburg, Self-Represented, Deer Lodge,
Appellees: Michael R. King, Risk Management & Tort
Defense Division, Helena, Montana Ira Eakin, Montana
Department of Corrections, Helena, Montana
Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court
Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum
opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as
precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition
shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of
noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and
Michael Ellenburg is an inmate in the Montana State Prison
(MSP). He brought suit in November 2016 against former and
current employees of the Department of Corrections (DOC) and
of the Board of Pardons and Parole (Board) (collectively, the
prison officials). Among other claims, the complaint alleged
that the prison officials violated his rights in making
decisions concerning his parole conditions and medical
treatment and breached a 2015 settlement agreement. The Third
Judicial District Court granted the prison officials summary
judgment. Ellenburg appeals the summary judgment ruling and
claims that the court should have allowed discovery before
dismissing his case. We affirm.
This Court reviews a district court's grant of summary
judgment de novo. Wilson v. Brandt, 2017 MT
290, ¶ 11, Mont., P.3d (citation omitted). A court may
grant summary judgment only when there is no genuine issue of
material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. M. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(3). We review a district
court's discovery ruling for an abuse of discretion.
Miller v. Goetz, 2014 MT 150, ¶ 9, 375 Mont.
281, 327 P.3d 483.
Ellenburg is serving a twenty-five-year prison sentence
arising from the revocation of his 1999 sentence for two
felony convictions. In January 2014, Ellenburg filed a
complaint against several DOC employees in the Powell County
District Court. He alleged in part that he was denied due
process in his prison disciplinary proceedings, which
potentially could affect a grant of his parole. Ellenburg and
the DOC entered into a settlement agreement on June 2, 2015.
The agreement stipulated that if Ellenburg could maintain 120
days of clear conduct, then a designated MSP official would
submit a parole plan that would request an in-person
appearance before the Board and would state that
Ellenburg's previous discipline record was not relevant
to his success on parole. As part of the settlement,
Ellenburg agreed to dismiss four pending lawsuits against
MSP, DOC, and their employees.
On July 8, 2015, Ellenburg achieved 120 days of clear
conduct. On August 27, 2015, he had a reappearance before the
Board. The Board denied his parole request but recommended
placement in a pre-release center. Ellenburg returned to the
Powell County District Court, claiming breach of the
settlement agreement. The District Court construed the DOC
employees' response to his renewed complaints as a motion
for summary judgment and granted it. Ellenburg appealed the
District Court's decision, and we affirmed. Ellenburg
v. Wilson, No. DA 16-0057, 2016 MT 187N, ¶¶ 2,
10, 385 Mont. 539, ___P.3d ___(Ellenburg 31).
This Court's unpublished decision upholding the
settlement agreement concluded:
Ellenburg clearly manifested intent to be bound by the
settlement agreement when he signed it, and again when he
filed suit alleging the DOC Defendants breached it. . . . The
District Court correctly found that a valid, enforceable
contract existed between Ellenburg and the DOC Defendants.
[citation omitted.] Ellenburg has not shown that the DOC
Defendants breached any of the settlement agreement's
terms. The DOC Defendants have shown that Ellenburg has not
dismissed his pending lawsuits as required by the settlement
agreement. The District Court did not err in enforcing the
Ellenburg 31, ¶ 9.
On January 28, 2016, while his appeal was pending, Ellenburg
had a parole hearing. The Board conditionally granted parole
and required an Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) because
Ellenburg's parole plan was not complete. Ellenburg
sought relief through a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
with this Court. He argued that the Board's decision
rendered his incarceration illegal and that his due process
rights and liberty interest were violated. After receiving a
response from the DOC, we denied his petition. Ellenburg
v.Kirkegard and Board, No. OP 16-0267, 385
Mont. 539, 382 P.3d 866 (table) (Jul. 26, 2016)
(Ellenburg 32). We held that Ellenburg ...