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Meyer v. Ekola

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

September 13, 2017

Harley Dean Meyer, Plaintiff,
Virginia Ekola, Attorney, in her official capacity as an officer of Hennepin County District Court; Allan Lindsay; Diane Lindsay; Jean Peterson; and J. Does 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 21, 31, 32, 34, 35, 36, 38, 39, 47, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, and 91, in their official capacities, Defendants.

          Harley Dean Meyer, pro se, Naewna Newspaper, Ladapa Tiwasingha, Plaintiff

          Richard S. Reeves, for Defendant Virginia Ekola

          Virginia K. Ekola, for Defendants Allan Lindsay and Diane Lindsay



         This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of Magistrate Judge Bowbeer dated May 26, 2017 [Doc. No. 524]. Plaintiff Harley Dean Meyer (“Meyer”) filed Objections to the Report and Recommendation (“Objs.”) [Doc. No. 525]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court overrules Meyer's Objections, adopts the R&R in its entirety, and grants Defendant Ekola's, Allan Lindsay's, and Diane Lindsay's Motions for Summary Judgment.

         Also before the Court is the Report & Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Bowbeer dated December 19, 2016 [Doc. No. 435]. In the December 19, 2016 R&R, Magistrate Judge Bowbeer recommended that all claims against Defendant Jean Peterson be dismissed without prejudice. (Dec. 19, 2016 R&R at 2.) Meyer did not file any objections to that Report and Recommendation in the time period permitted. Accordingly, based on the December 19, 2016 R&R, and all of the files, records and proceedings herein, the Court adopts the December 19, 2016 R&R and dismisses without prejudice all claims against Defendant Jean Peterson.

         In addition, before the Court is Plaintiff's Objection [Doc. No. 444] to the Order of Magistrate Judge Bowbeer dated December 15, 2016 [Doc. No. 434]. In the December 15, 2016 Order, Magistrate Judge Bowbeer denied without prejudice Meyer's Motion to Appoint Counsel [Doc. No. 417] and his Motion for an Extension of Time [Doc. No. 418]. In light of the Court's summary judgment ruling, addressed below, Meyer's Objection to the December 15, 2016 Order is denied as moot.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The background of this case was set forth in previous orders and is only recounted here to the extent necessary to rule on Meyer's Objections. This action involves Meyer's eighty-two state and federal claims against twenty-seven named Defendants-including Defendants Virginia Ekola (“Ekola”), Allan Lindsay (“A. Lindsay”), and Diane Lindsay (“D. Lindsay”) (collectively, “Defendants”)-and seventy-seven J. Doe Defendants- including those J. Doe Defendants referenced in the caption of this Order. (See First Am. Compl. (“FAC”) [Doc. No. 136]; Order dated 8/5/2016 (“August 5 Order”) at 5 [Doc. No. 341].) Meyer was allowed to amend his complaint once-wherein he added more defendants and claims-but his second attempt, where he again sought to add more defendants and claims, was denied based on futility, undue delay and prejudice, and his repeated failures to abide by this Court's orders, the Local Rules, and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Id. at 4-5, 16-19.)

         All of Meyer's claims stem from a 2003 child custody dispute between Meyer and his former wife (V.M.) over their son (J.M.) and related proceedings in Minnesota state court. (See Id. at 7.) Ekola is an attorney who represented V.M. in the divorce and custody proceedings. In those proceedings, V.M. was granted sole legal and physical custody over J.M. (Decl. of Allan and Diane Lindsay (“Lindsay Decl.”) [Doc. No. 507], Ex. 3 [Doc. No. 507-3].) Sometime after 2004, Meyer moved to Thailand, where he resides to this day.

         V.M. named her brother, A. Lindsay, as J.M.'s guardian in her will in 2006. (R&R at 2-3; Lindsay Decl., Ex. 4 [Doc. No. 507-4].) D. Lindsay is A. Lindsay's wife. Later, in 2011, after V.M. was diagnosed with cancer and began treatment, she asked A. Lindsay to help care for J.M. (Aff. of Allan Lindsay at ¶ 5 [Doc. No. 506].) In January of 2012, V.M. and A. Lindsay executed a “Designated Temporary Custodian Agreement” (the “Designation Agreement”) that sought to appoint A. Lindsay as co-custodian of J.M. pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 257B. (Lindsay Decl., Ex. 5 [Doc. No. 507-5].) In it, V.M. stated that she was suffering from a physically incapacitating disease. (See Id. at 2.) V.M. explained that she believed Meyer was in Thailand, but did not know his address or how to contact him other than through an email address, and that Meyer had not seen J.M. since 2003. (Id. at 1.) The Designation Agreement purported to give A. Lindsay the authority to make custodial and legal decisions related to J.M. and suggests that the parties intended it to be effective immediately. (Id. at 2.) It also stated that V.M. intended for A. Lindsay to be appointed as J.M.'s guardian upon her death, pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 524.5-201 and other related statutes. (Id.)

         Days after the Designation Agreement was signed, V.M. died. (Lindsay Decl., Ex. 6 [507-6].) There is no indication that A. Lindsay ever petitioned a court to have the Designation Agreement approved. Instead, on January 20, 2012, he accepted the guardianship appointment contained in V.M.'s will. (Lindsay Decl., Ex. 7 at 5 [Doc. No. 507-7].)

         Less than thirty days after A. Lindsay accepted the appointment in V.M.'s will, Ekola filed a Petition for Appointment (the “Guardianship Petition”) in Hennepin County district court.[1] (Id. at 1-3.) The Guardianship Petition was served on Meyer. (Id. at 14- 15; see Lindsay Decl., Ex. 9 [Doc. No. 507-9].) A hearing on the Guardianship Petition was held in April of 2012 and Meyer attended the hearing and objected to A. Lindsay's appointment, arguing that he should be given full legal and physical custody over J.M. (See Lindsay Decl., Ex. 10 [Doc. No. 507-10].) The district court granted the Guardianship Petition, appointed A. Lindsay to serve as guardian “alongside” Meyer, and explained that Meyer would need to raise his custodial challenges in family court. (See id. at 3-4.) Importantly here, the court made the appointment pursuant to Minnesota's guardianship statutes, Minn. Stat. § 524.5-202 et seq., with no mention of the custodianship statutes, Minn. Stat. § 257B et seq., or the Designation Agreement. (See Id. at 2-4.)

         Meyer appealed the decision and the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. (Lindsay Decl., Ex. 13 [Doc. No. 507-13].) Specifically, the court found that although V.M.'s appointment of A. Lindsay in her will was valid and effective upon her death, that appointment terminated by operation of law when Meyer objected and thus the probate court could not confirm an appointment that no longer existed. (Id. at ¶¶ 4-5.) The court of appeals remanded the case to the district court to consider the appointment of an emergency or temporary guardian for J.M. (Id. at ¶¶ 6-7.) On remand, the district court appointed A. Lindsay as J.M.'s temporary guardian pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 524.5-204(b). ((Lindsay Decl., Ex. 15 [507-15].) Meyer did not appeal this decision.

         Generally speaking, Meyer now contends that all of the state court proceedings surrounding the 2003 custody dispute and 2012 guardianship dispute were fraudulent, procedurally deficient, involved negligence, and amounted to a civil conspiracy against him perpetrated by nearly every individual who had any involvement with those proceedings and the events they addressed. (See FAC; August 5 Order at 7-8.) Meyer also raises constitutional challenges to the federal government's provision of financial incentives to the states, Minnesota's statutory scheme for appointing guardians, and the “continuing jurisdiction” provision of Minnesota's Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. (See FAC at ¶ 545.)

         The R&R recommends granting Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment because Meyer's claims suffer from one or more of the following deficiencies: (1) they are based on criminal statutes that do not provide a civil cause of action; (2) Meyer failed to produce competent admissible evidence that supports one or more elements of the claim; (3) the claim is time barred and there is no basis for equitable tolling; (4) the Court is prohibited from considering the claim under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine; or (5) the claim suffers from a fundamental legal deficiency (e.g., the claim may only be asserted against a state actor and the Defendant at issue is not a state actor). (R&R at 5-19.) The R&R also recommends that Meyer's claims against the unserved J. Doe Defendants be dismissed without prejudice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m). (Id. at 19-24.) The reasons for this recommendation of dismissal are that Meyer failed to show good cause as to why the J. Doe Defendants remain unserved more than two years after the case began and because he has not stated plausible claims ...

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