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LaForge v. Down

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

December 28, 2017

MICHAEL F. LAFORGE, Plaintiff,
v.
JANICE GETS DOWN, NATASHA J. MORTON, LEROY NOT AFRAID, SHEILA WILKINSON NOT AFRAID, Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          TIMOTHY J. CAVAN, United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the Court are six pending motions:

(1) Defendant Natasha Morton's (Morton) Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (Doc 11);
(2) Plaintiff Michael LaForge's (LaForge) Motion Submit [sic] Support of Pleading Evidence (Doc. 13);
(3) LaForge's Motion to File Exhibits (Doc. 14);
(4) Morton's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Prosecution (Doc. 16);
(5) Defendants Leroy Not Afraid's and Sheila Wilkinson Not Afraid's (collectively, the “Judicial Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction and Failure to State a Claim (Doc. 20); and
(6) LaForge's Motion for Prayer for Relief (Doc. 24).

         After fully considering the parties' motions, the Court makes the following findings and recommendations.

         I. Pertinent Facts

         When considering motions to dismiss, a court must accept as true all well-pleaded allegations of material fact and construe them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Daniels-Hall v. National Educ. Ass'n, 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010). The Court also may consider materials attached to the complaint or incorporated by reference. U.S. v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2003). Accordingly, the Court sets forth the facts as alleged in LaForge's Complaint, and as derived from certain materials incorporated therein by reference.

         LaForge, proceeding pro se, filed his Complaint on May 5, 2017, seeking relief against defendants for “judgment of property” occurring July 12, 2016, which LaForge describes as “[r]emoving my home (modular home) from my trust land.” (Doc. 9 at 7.) Judge Morris, in his order granting LaForge permission to proceed in forma pauperis, interpreted LaForge's Complaint as alleging “that Defendants, a number of Crow Tribal Court officials, wrongfully entered judgment to remove his modular home from his trust land.” (Doc. 8 at 2.) LaForge cites as the basis for federal jurisdiction “Constitutional Rights, Disability Act, Treaty Rights, and Civil Rights, ” though he does not cite to any particular constitutional provision or statute. (Doc. 9 at 6.)

         Upon review of documents LaForge has filed since his Complaint (see, e.g., Docs. 14 & 15), it is clear that the “judgment of property” about which LaForge complains is a divorce decree entered by the Crow Tribal Court in and for the Crow Indian Reservation (the “Tribal Court”), dividing property between LaForge and his ex-wife, Defendant Janice Gets Down (“Gets Down”). (Doc. 15-2 at 1-7.) LaForge unsuccessfully appealed that decree pursuant to Tribal Court procedures, with final judgment against LaForge being entered on April 7, 2017. (Doc. 21-1 at 63-64.)

         LaForge initiated this action on April 21, 2017. According to his subsequent “Motion for Prayer for Relief, ” he requests that he be awarded certain property from the divorce action, consisting of motor vehicles, an RV trailer, a trailer home, and that he also be awarded a total of $70, 000, 000 in “punitive” and “monetary damages” from the defendants. (Doc. 24.)

         Defendant Morton filed the first of the instant motions on June 6, 2017. (Doc. 11.) The final pending motion was filed by LaForge on July 25, 2017. (Doc. 24.) As described above, there are a total of six pending motions. On November 3, 2017, with no party having filed a response to any pending motion, [1]the Court entered an Order requiring the parties to show cause why the Court should not deem the motions to be well-taken pursuant to D. Mont. L.R. 7.1(d)(1)(B)(ii). (Doc. 26.)

         Morton and the Judicial Defendants filed responses to the Court's Order. (Doc. 27, 28.) LaForge filed a document on the date his show-cause response was due, but that document, entitled “Brief, ” neither addresses the Court's Order nor responds to any issues discussed in defendants' dispositive motions. (Doc. 29.)

         II. Legal Standard

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of a complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001); see also Chavez v. Bank of America, N.A., 2010 WL 1854087 at *4 (E.D. Cal. 2010) (summarizing the legal standard to be applied to Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss). “Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is proper when the complaint either (1) lacks a cognizable legal theory or (2) fails to allege sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory.” Zixiang Li v. Kerry, 710 F.3d 995, 999 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Mendiondo v. Centinela Hosp. Med. Ctr., 521 F.3d 1097, 1104 (9th Cir. 2008)).

         The Court evaluates Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss in light of Rule 8(a), which requires a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” While “detailed factual allegations” are not required, Rule 8 “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotations and citations omitted). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do....” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quotations and citations omitted). “Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A claim is plausible on its face when the facts pled “allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The claim need not be probable, but there must be “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. Facts that are “merely consistent with” a defendant's liability fall short of this standard. Id. “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the ...


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