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Laforge v. Janice Gets Down

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

May 4, 2018




         Before the Court is Plaintiff Michael LaForge's (“LaForge”) Motion to File Evidence (the “Motion”) (Doc. 32). After fully considering the Motion, the Court makes the following findings and recommendations.

         I. Pertinent Facts

         LaForge, proceeding pro se, filed his original complaint on May 5, 2017, seeking relief against defendants for a “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.) U.S. District 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 cited as the basis for federal jurisdiction “Constitutional Rights, Disability Act, Treaty Rights, and Civil Rights, ” though he did not cite to any particular constitutional provision or statute. (Doc. 9 at 6.)

         Defendant Natasha J. Morton (“Morton”) individually, and defendants Leroy Not Afraid and Sheila Wilkinson Not Afraid together (collectively, the “Judicial Defendants”), filed motions to dismiss LaForge's complaint for, inter alia, failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Docs. 11, 20.) The undersigned entered Findings and Recommendations of United States Magistrate Judge (“F&R”) on December 28, 2017, recommending that Judge Morris grant the defendants' motions to dismiss without prejudice. (Doc. 30.) On February 9, 2018, Judge Morris adopted the F&R in all respects, except that he granted dismissal of the Judicial Defendants with prejudice. (Doc. 33.) Pertinent to the instant Motion, Judge Morris warned LaForge “that failure to correct the deficiencies identified in Judge Cavan's [F&R] in any amended pleadings will result in dismissal with prejudice of the remainder of [LaForge's] claims.” (Id. at 6.)

         On February 2, 2018, well after entry of the F&R but before Judge Morris's order, LaForge filed the instant Motion. In addition to several pieces of “evidence” of unclear relevance, the Motion contains the following original pleading:

         Your Honor,

In consideration of my case against the defendants:
Chief Judge Leroy Not Afraid, Ass[.] Judge Sheila Not Afraid, Att. Natasha Morton, Janice Gets Down []
So much corruption going on in the tribal system. The Judges favor Lawyers [sic] that they choose, [I] was not given due process of the law, they all conspired in the illegal removal of my home that sits on my trust land.

(Doc. 32-1 at 19.)

         Morton has filed a response to LaForge's Motion. (Doc. 34.) Morton contends she is unsure whether to respond to the Motion as an objection to the Court's F&R, or as an attempt to amend his complaint. If it is the former, Morton correctly observes that it would not be timely, and does not comply with the requirements for a proper objection under the local rules. If it is the latter, Morton contends that the amended pleading should be dismissed because it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Morton also requests that the case be dismissed with prejudice for the failure to comply with Judge Morris's previous order.

         The Court is also uncertain as to LaForge's intention in filing the Motion. If it were construed as an objection to the Court's F&R, it would be subject to denial based on timeliness, and would also be moot based on Judge Morris's subsequent review and decision on the F&R. Therefore, the Court will liberally construe the motion as an attempt to amend LaForge's complaint.

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)

         “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.”[1] 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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