ROBERT D. RIGGS, Plaintiff and Appellant,
WARDEN MICHAEL FLETCHER, et al., Defendants and Appellees.
Submitted on Briefs: February 14, 2018
FROM: District Court of the Third Judicial District, In and
For the County of Powell, Cause No. DV-15-56 Honorable Ray J.
Dayton, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Robert D. Riggs, Self-Represented, Deer Lodge,
Appellees: Jeffrey M. Doud, Assistant Attorney General,
Agency Legal Services Bureau, Helena, Montana
MCGRATH, CHIEF JUSTICE
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 D. Riggs (Riggs) appeals from the District Court's
denial of his motion for a default judgment, his motion to
amend, and the granting of the Defendants' motion to
dismiss. We affirm.
Riggs is an inmate at the Montana State Prison (MSP) serving
twenty-four years for a 2002 conviction of sexual intercourse
without consent, incest, and two counts of felony sexual
assault. To become parole eligible, Riggs must complete all
three phases of sex offender treatment. This Court upheld his
conviction, denied his petition for postconviction relief
based on ineffective assistance of counsel, and affirmed his
parole restrictions. State v. Riggs, 2005 MT 124,
327 Mont. 196, 113 P.3d 281; Riggs v. State, 2011 MT
239, 362 Mont. 140, 264 P.3d 693; Riggs v.
Kirkegard, No. OP 12-0279, (Mont., Aug. 7, 2012).
In February 2015, while incarcerated at MSP, Riggs received a
disciplinary infraction for threatening and extortion. Riggs
requested and was afforded a hearing. Following the hearing,
the hearing officer found Riggs not guilty of extortion but
instead guilty of threatening another inmate and conspiracy
to commit blackmail. Riggs appealed the decision; his appeal
was denied. As a result of disciplinary action, Riggs
received a higher custody classification, lost his prison
job, and was transferred. He was removed from his
court-ordered sex offender treatment group, was denied parole
for failing to complete the sex offender treatment group, and
was placed in administrative segregation.
On June 30, 2015, Riggs filed a complaint in the District
Court against various employees of the MSP. He mailed summons
and copies of his complaint to attorneys at the Montana
Department of Corrections and requested the sheriff serve the
named Defendants. Riggs alleged that the Defendants violated
his due process rights causing a deprivation of his liberty
and property interests.
On February 1, 2016, Riggs filed a motion for a default
judgment. The District Court denied the motion determining
Riggs failed to properly effectuate service on the named
Defendants. In December 2016, the Defendants moved to dismiss
Riggs's claims because Riggs failed to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted pursuant to M. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(6). They contended that none of his claims implicated a
protected liberty or property interest. Riggs then filed a
motion to amend. Riggs's amended claim reiterated his
original claims and added an alleged violation of a criminal
statute. The District Court granted the Defendants'
motion to dismiss and denied Riggs's motion to amend. The
District Court found none of Riggs's claims implicated a
protected liberty or property interest and Riggs's
attempt to amend his complaint was futile. Riggs appeals the
denial of his motion for a default judgment and his motion to
amend, and the granting of the Defendants' motion to
A district court's denial of a motion for a default
judgment is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Essex Ins.
Co. v. Moose's Saloon, Inc., 2007 MT 202, ¶ 17,
338 Mont. 423, 166 P.3d 451; Johnson v. Matelich,
163 Mont. 329, 334, 517 P.2d 731, 733 (1973). We review a
district court's decision regarding a motion to amend a
complaint for abuse of discretion. Hickey v. Baker Sch.
Dist. No. 12, 2002 MT 322, ¶ 12, 313 Mont. 162, 60
P.3d 966. We review de novo a district court's ruling on
a motion to dismiss pursuant to M. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
Western Sec. Bank v. Eide Bailly LLP, 2010 MT 291,
¶ 18, 359 Mont. 34, 249 P.3d 35. A district court's
determination that a complaint has failed to state a claim
for which relief can be granted is a conclusion of law which
we review for correctness. Sinclair v. Burlington
Northern & Santa Fe Ry., 2008 MT 424, ¶ 25, 347
Mont. 395, 200 P.3d 46.
Riggs argues the District Court erred when it denied his
motion for a default judgment. The District Court denied
Riggs's motion because it determined he had failed to
comply with the Montana Rules of Civil Procedure. Riggs moved
for entry of default judgment prior to obtaining entry of
default from the Court as required under M. R. Civ. P. 55(a).
The District Court determined Riggs failed to properly
effectuate service of his complaint as required under M. R.
Civ. P. 4(1) and § 2-9-313, MCA. After review of the
record we conclude the District Court's denial of the
motion was not an abuse of discretion.
Riggs claims the District Court erred in granting the
State's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
In the District Court, Riggs asserted that, as a result of
the disciplinary action, he: 1) lost his prison job; 2)
received a higher custody classification; 3) was transferred
to Crossroads Correctional in Shelby; 4) was removed from his
court-ordered sex offender treatment group; 5) has been
denied parole due to failure to complete sex offender
treatment; and 6) was placed in administrative segregation.
The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the
United States Constitution prohibits states from depriving
any person of life, liberty, or property without due process
of law. U.S. Const. Amend. XIV; Campbell v. Mahoney,
2001 MT 146, ¶ 7, 306 Mont. 45, 29 P.3d 1034. The first
step in a due process inquiry regarding a prisoner is whether
the inmate had a protected liberty interest as a ...