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West v. Crnkovich

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

May 24, 2013

RONNIE D. WEST, Plaintiff,
v.
JUDGE ELIZABETH CRNKOVICH, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JOHN M. GERRARD, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on several Motions filed by the parties. (Filing Nos. 6, 9, 11, 13, 16, 17, 20, 23, 29, and 31.) As set forth below, this matter is dismissed without prejudice.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed his original Complaint in this matter on August 3, 2012, against the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services ("NDHHS"), the State of Nebraska, the City of Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska ("Douglas County"), and nine individuals. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF pp. 1-3.) Plaintiff currently resides in Batesville, Arkansas. ( Id. at CM/ECF p. 2.)

Condensed and summarized, Plaintiff alleges Defendants' actions during events related to a state-court child custody dispute between Plaintiff, the State of Nebraska and Plaintiff's former wife Julia West, violated his civil rights. ( Id. at CM/ECF pp. 1-19.) Plaintiff alleges that pursuant to a court order, his children were "kidnapped" and "illegally and unconstitutionally renditioned to a fringe organization known as Project Harmony where they were threatened and intimidated into making false statements about" Plaintiff. ( Id. at CM/ECF p. 6; see also Filing No. 28 at CM/ECF p. 9.) Plaintiff also asserts that a ruling by Defendant Judge Wadie Thomas placing his children in temporary foster care violated his constitutional rights. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF pp. 7-8.) Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from Defendants in the amount of $100, 000, 000.00, as well as "attorney's fees and costs." ( Id. at CM/ECF p. 18.)

After filing his Complaint and attempting service of process, Defendants David Weir ("Weir"), Timothy Burns ("Burns"), Douglas County, Angie Hurly ("Hurly"), Susan Stovall ("Stovall"), Grant Forsberg, and Julia West all filed Motions to Dismiss. (Filing Nos. 6, 9, 11, 13, 16, and 17.) In response, Plaintiff filed a document labeled "Jury Demand" (filing no. 19), a second document labeled "Jury Demand" (filing no. 28), a Motion for Default Judgment (filing no. 20), and a Motion for Admittance of Supplemental Pleading (filing no. 23).

Defendants Weir, Burns, Douglas County, Hurly, and Stovall have all filed Briefs in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment. (Filing Nos. 21, 22, and 24.) Defendants Hurly and Stovall have additionally asked that the court rule on their pending Motions to Dismiss before allowing Plaintiff to amend his Complaint. (Filing No. 22 at CM/ECF p. 3.) Also pending is Defendant Jessica Brown's ("Brown") Motion to Dismiss and Plaintiff's Motion to Set Discovery Calendar. (Filing Nos. 29 and 31.)

II. ANALYSIS

A. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and Motion for Admittance of Supplemental Pleading

On November 7, 2012, Plaintiff filed a document labeled "Jury Demand." (Filing No. 19.) Seven days later, Plaintiff filed another document labeled "Jury Demand." (Filing No. 28.) On November 16, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Admittance of Supplemental Pleading. (Filing No. 23.) In his Motion for Admittance of Supplemental Pleading, Plaintiff seeks the court's leave to file a "supplemental" pleading that he "offered" as "evidence" with his motion. ( Id. at CM/ECF p. 4.) However, Plaintiff failed to attach a "supplemental" pleading to his Motion. ( See Docket Sheet.) Liberally construed, Plaintiff may be requesting the court's leave to file the second "Jury Demand" document as an Amended Complaint. ( Id. )

To the extent that the court chooses to liberally construe the "Jury Demand" documents as amended complaints, Defendants Hurly and Stovall have asked the court to rule on their pending Motions to Dismiss before allowing amendment. (Filing No. 22 at CM/ECF p. 3.) Defendants Hurly and Stovall argue that they have not been properly served, and therefore, Plaintiff should not be permitted to amend his Complaint.

Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that courts should freely give a party leave to amend when justice so requires. The applicable standard is summarized in Foman v. Davis 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962), which states:

If the underlying facts or circumstances relied upon by a plaintiff may be a proper subject of relief, he ought to be afforded an opportunity to test his claims on the merits. In the absence of any apparent reason-such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, ... undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of amendment, etc.-the leave sought should, as the rules require, be freely given.

Id. (internal quotations omitted). Further, a motion to amend a complaint "render[s] moot" a pending motion to dismiss. Pure Country, Inc. v. Sigma Chi Fraternity 312 F.3d 952, 956 (8th Cir. 2002).

The court has carefully reviewed Plaintiff's Motion for Admittance of Supplemental Pleading, as well as Hurly and Stovall's request. To the extent that Plaintiff filed his Motion for Admittance of Supplemental Pleading in an effort to request the court's leave to file his second "Jury Demand" document as an Amended Complaint, his Motion is granted. Further, the court will consider his Amended Complaint (filing no. 28) as supplemental to, rather than superseding, his original Complaint. See NECivR 15.1(b) (stating that the court may consider a pro se plaintiff's amended pleading "as supplemental to, rather than as superseding, the original pleading").

To the extent that Plaintiff filed his Motion for Admittance of Supplemental Pleading in an effort to request the court's leave to file a "supplemental" pleading that he did not attach to his Motion, his Motion is denied. Defendants' Motions to ...


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