ROBERT S. PIERCE, Petitioner and Appellant,
TIM BARKELL; BILL SATHER; STEVE BARCLAY; MALISSA RASAAKKA; M.R., Minor Child; and ANACONDA-DEER LODGE COUNTY, Respondents and Appellees.
Submitted on Briefs: February 28, 2018
Appellant: Robert S. Pierce, self-represented; Deer Lodge,
Appellees: (for Anaconda Deer Lodge County) Mark A. Thieszen,
Poore, Roth & Robinson, P.C.; Butte, Montana (for Tim
Barkell, Bill Sather, and Steve Barclay)
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
Robert S. Pierce (Pierce) appeals from the order of the Third
Judicial District Court, Anaconda-Deer Lodge County, granting
motions for summary judgment made by: Tim Barkell (Barkell),
Bill Sather (Sather), and Steve Barclay (Barclay); Malissa
Raasakka (Raasakka) and M.R., Minor Child; and Anaconda-Deer
Lodge County (ADLC). We affirm.
On April 25, 2013, a jury found Pierce guilty of Sexual
Intercourse Without Consent and Sexual Assault of M.R., a
minor under the age of 16. This Court upheld Pierce's
conviction on appeal. State v. Pierce, 2016 MT 308,
385 Mont. 439, 384 P.3d 1042.
While Pierce's appeal was pending, he filed this civil
suit in the Third Judicial District Court against Barkell,
Sather, Barclay, Raasakka, M.R., and ADLC, alleging
conspiracy, defamation, intimidation, false reports, and
various civil rights violations, including both state claims
and federal claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Barkell, Sather, and Barclay are law enforcement officers who
were involved in the investigation of the criminal complaints
against Pierce, and ADLC is their employer. M.R. is the
victim of the offenses for which Pierce was convicted.
Raasakka is M.R.'s mother.
After Pierce filed his civil suit, Barkell, Sather, and
Barclay removed the action to federal court. The federal
court dismissed Pierce's § 1983 claims as barred
under Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) (holding
that a plaintiff cannot prosecute a § 1983 action for
damages if the action's success would imply that the
plaintiff's existing criminal conviction or sentence is
invalid). The court then declined to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over Pierce's remaining state law claims and
remanded this case to state court.
After remand to the Third Judicial District Court, ADLC,
Raasakka and M.R., and Barkell, Sather, and Barclay all moved
for summary judgment. On June 5, 2017, the District Court
granted summary judgment on each party's respective
motion. Regarding ADLC, the court found Pierce had conceded
that summary judgment in ADLC's favor was warranted. The
court further determined the remaining parties were entitled
to summary judgment because Pierce was collaterally estopped
from re-litigating the issues already decided in his criminal
case. This appeal followed.
We review a district court's grant of summary judgment de
novo, using the same standards applied by the district court
under M. R. Civ. P. 56. Capital One, NA v. Guthrie,
2017 MT 75, ¶ 11, 387 Mont. 147, 392 P.3d 158 (citation
omitted). Summary judgment is appropriate if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.
Capital One, ¶ 11 (citing M. R. Civ. P.
56(c)(3)). We review conclusions of law for correctness and
the district court's findings of fact to determine if
they are clearly erroneous. Lone Moose Meadows, LLC v.
Boyne USA, Inc., 2017 MT 142, ¶ 7, 387 Mont. 507,
396 P.3d 128.
We review de novo a district court's interpretation and
application of a statute and a district court's
conclusions of law. This includes a district court's
application of claim preclusion or issue preclusion
(collateral estoppel), which is an issue of law that we
review for correctness. Brilz v. Metro. Gen. Ins.
Co., 2012 MT 184, ¶ 13, 366 Mont. 78, 285 P.3d 494
The doctrine of collateral estoppel precludes litigation of
issues determined in an earlier action. Estate of Eide v.
Tabbert, 272 Mont. 180, 183, 900 P.2d 292, 295 (citation
omitted). We have expressly held collateral estoppel
prohibits the litigation of an issue in a civil trial that
has been litigated in a prior criminal trial. Eide,
272 Mont. at 183, 900 P.2d ...