United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
EDWARD H. HUGGLER, Plaintiffs,
STATE OF MONTANA DOJ as SUPERVISING AGENCY, Defendant.
ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED
STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
TIMOTHY J. CAVAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Edward Huggler submitted a motion to proceed in forma
pauperis, together with a proposed Complaint alleging his
rights are being violated by various law enforcement agencies
within the State of Montana. (Docs. 1, 2.) On April 17, 2019,
Mr. Huggler filed an untitled document, seeking an injunction
on Ravalli County Justice Court proceedings to be held on May
8, 2019, claiming he was being denied due process and equal
protection. (Doc. 4.)
motion to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted, but the
Complaint fails to name a proper defendant and fails to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted. Mr. Huggler will be
given an opportunity to file an amended complaint, but his
request for legal assistance (Doc. 2 at 4) will be denied.
The April 17, 2019 filing, construed as a motion for
injunctive relief, should be denied.
MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
Huggler's Application to Proceed in District Court
without Prepaying Fees or Costs (Doc. 1) is sufficient to
make the showing required by 28 U.S.C. §1915(a). The
request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.
Huggler alleges his rights were violated on June 2, 2018 by a
Ravalli County Sheriff Deputy when he was pulled over without
probable cause. He then contends that on September 16th he
was arrested with excessive force and without probable cause
by Montana Highway Patrolman Adam Gane. He also claims that
on April 5, 2019, his rights were violated when a photo was
taken at the Big Horn County Jail of his SVOR registration,
and a message warning of Mr. Huggler was sent to Shantell
Faith, who then spread a false claim on Facebook accusing Mr.
Huggler hanging around a school. He also contends that on
April 3, 2019, he was called out of the Office of the Western
Motel by Deputy Middleton, who then accused him of whistling
and making lewd comments. (Complaint, Doc. 2 at 1-2.)
Huggler contends law enforcement is falsely accusing him of
being dangerous. (Complaint, Doc. 2 at 1-2.) He asks that all
his connected lower court cases in Ravalli and Missoula
County be suspended until this action is resolved. He also
asks for an order of protection from the Big Horn County
Sheriff's Department for fear of retaliation. Finally, he
requests legal assistance for perfecting this claim and
filing motions. (Complaint, Doc. 2 at 3-4.)
SCREENING PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915
Huggler is proceeding in forma pauperis so the Court must
review his Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which
requires the Court to dismiss a complaint filed in forma
pauperis before it is served if it is frivolous or malicious,
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. A complaint is frivolous if it “lacks an
arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke
v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). “A case is
malicious if it was filed with the intention or desire to
harm another.” Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113,
1121 (9th Cir. 2005). A complaint fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted if a plaintiff fails to allege
the “grounds” of his “entitlement to
relief.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quotation omitted).
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a
complaint “that states a claim for relief must contain
. . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the [plaintiff] is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). That is, a complaint must “contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotations omitted). A
complaint's allegations must cross “the line from
conceivable to plausible.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
is a two-step procedure to determine whether a
complaint's allegations cross that line. See
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556; Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662. First, the Court must identify “the allegations in
the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 680. Factual
allegations are not entitled to the assumption of truth if
they are “merely consistent with liability, ” or
“amount to nothing more than a ‘formulaic
recitation of the elements' of a constitutional”
claim. Id. at 679, 681. A complaint stops short of
the line between probability and the possibility of relief
where the facts pled are merely consistent with a
defendant's liability. Id. at 678.
the Court must determine whether the complaint states a
“plausible” claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
679. A claim is “plausible” if the factual
allegations, which are accepted as true, “allow[ ] the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at
678. This inquiry is “a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.” Id. at 679
(citation omitted). If the factual allegations, which are
accepted as true, “do not permit the court to infer
more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint
has alleged-but it has not “show[n]”-“that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id.
(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
document filed pro se is ‘to be liberally
construed,' and ‘a pro se complaint, however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'”
Erickson v. Pardu, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); cf. Fed.
Rule Civ. Proc. 8(e) (“Pleadings must be construed so
as to do justice”).
Huggler has raised allegations regarding a series of
encounters with law enforcement in the last year, but the
only named Defendant is the State of Montana-DOJ as
supervising agency. As set forth below, the State is entitled
to Eleventh Amendment immunity and cannot be sued in federal
court. Further, even if Mr. Huggler could name a proper
defendant, he must provide additional factual allegations
regarding claims, and clarify whether the incidents of which
he complains are pending criminal actions, or if concluded,
whether he was convicted of any of the named offenses.
State of Montana
Eleventh Amendment states: “The judicial power of the
United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in
law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the
United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or
Subjects of any Foreign State.” The United States
Supreme Court has interpreted the Eleventh Amendment to mean
that absent waiver, neither a State nor an agency of the
State acting under its control may “be subject to suit
in federal court.” Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer
Authority v. Metcalf & Eddy, Inc., 506 U.S. 139, 144
(1993). Consequently, the Eleventh Amendment bars
“suits which seek either damages or injunctive relief
against a state, an arm of the state, its instrumentalities,
or its agencies.” Franceschi v. Schwartz, 57
F.3d 828, 831 (9th Cir. 1995) (internal quotation marks
Eleventh Amendment bars suit in federal court against a state
or state agencies absent a valid abrogation of immunity by
Congress or an express waiver of immunity by the State.
Idaho v. Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho, 521 U.S.
261, 267-268 (1997); Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S.
651, 653 (1974); Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer
Authority v. Metcalf & Eddy, Inc., 506 U.S. 139, 144
(1993). The State of Montana has waived immunity only for
tort claims brought in state court. Mont. Code Ann. §
2-9-101 et seq. Thus, the State of Montana and its agencies
have Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit in federal court.
In addition, states are not “persons” subject to
suit for money damages under section 1983. Will v.
Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 65, 71
Huggler's claims against the State of Montana itself
cannot proceed. Greater L.A. Council on Deafness, Inc. v.
Zolin, 812 F.2d 1103, 1110 n. 10 (9th Cir. 1987)
(“Since the [E]leventh [A]mendment by its terms bars
suits against a state ‘in law or equity,' our
holding necessarily also applies to plaintiffs' claims
against the Superior Court for injunctive and ...