United States District Court, D. Minnesota
DOE, PRO SE, FOR PLAINTIFF.
VOSS, ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, FOR DEFENDANT.
ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
FRANKLIN L. NOEL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MATTER came before the undersigned United States
Magistrate Judge on January 19, 2018, on Plaintiff Jane
Doe's motion to proceed in pseudonym (ECF No. 3), and
Defendant Ryan K. Zinke's motion to dismiss (ECF No. 13).
Defendant's motion to dismiss (ECF No. 13) was referred
to the undersigned for Report and Recommendation pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rule 72.1. See ECF
No. 19. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's
motion to proceed in pseudonym (ECF No. 3) is
DENIED and the Court recommend's that
Defendant's motion to dismiss (ECF No. 13) be
DENIED without prejudice.
SUMMARY OF FACTS
is a former employee of the United States Department of
Interior. ECF No. 1 ¶ 1. Defendant Ryan K. Zinke is the
current Secretary of the Department of Interior, and is being
sued in his official capacity. Id. ¶ 2.
Plaintiff alleges that in 2011, she entered into a settlement
agreement with the then United States Department of Interior,
Office of Hearing and Appeals, Director Robert More.
Id. ¶¶ 10-12. Pursuant to the settlement
agreement, Plaintiff's position as an Administrative
Judge in the White Earth Land Settlement Act Hearings
Division, was to be converted to a permanent appointment in
the Twin Cities area. Id. ¶¶ 10-13.
According to Plaintiff, after the retirement of Director
More, the Acting Director Ms. Goodwin informed her that she
was opposed to establishing an office in Minnesota, and after
subjecting Plaintiff to verbal abuse and harassment, closed
Plaintiff's office in Minnesota and terminated Plaintiff.
Id. ¶¶ 16-34. Plaintiff alleges that when
she was terminated, similarly situated male employees were
retained. Id. ¶ 38.
CONCLUSION OF LAW
moves for leave to proceed in this action under the pseudonym
of Jane Doe a/k/a Franchesca V. See ECF No. 3.
Defendant opposes Plaintiff's request, moves the Court to
dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint without prejudice, and asks
the Court to require Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint
in her own name. See ECF No. 15.
Rule of Civil Procedure 10(a) requires that a pleading
contain the names of all parties. See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 10(a). This is because there is a strong presumption in
identifying the parties in a litigation. See Luckett v.
Beaudet, 21 F.Supp. 2d. 1029, 1029 (D. Minn. 1998).
“There is a First Amendment interest in public
proceedings, and identifying the parties to an action is an
important part of making it truly public. When a party
invokes the judicial powers of the United States, she invites
public scrutiny of the dispute and the proceeding.”
Id. (citation omitted). Only in exceptional cases
may a party be allowed to proceed anonymously. Doe v.
Megless, 654 F.3d 404, 408 (3d. Cir. 2011).
the Eighth Circuit has not specifically addressed when to
permit a litigant to proceed in pseudonym, other courts have
considered three circumstances which, if present, might
support allowing a party to proceed in pseudonym: (1)
plaintiff is challenging a governmental activity; (2)
plaintiff would have to “disclose information of the
utmost intimacy” in prosecuting her claim; or (3)
plaintiff would be compelled to admit their intention to
engage in illegal activity, thereby risking criminal
prosecution. Luckette, 21 F.Supp. 2d. at 1029
(applying factors from Doe v. Frank, 951 F.2d 320,
323 (11th Cir. 1992)); see also Doe v. Stegall, 653
F.2d 180, 185 (5th Cir. 1981); Doe v. Univ. of St.
Thomas, No. 16-cv-1127 (ADM/KMM), 2016 WL 9307609 at *1
(D. Minn. May 25, 2016). In the present case, while Plaintiff
may arguably be challenging a governmental activity, when
considering the nature of Plaintiff's claims, her
asserted privacy interest, and the strong presumption against
the use of pseudonym, the Court finds no reason to allow
Plaintiff to proceed in pseudonym. See id.
claim's against Defendant are typical in employment
discrimination cases. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
wrongfully terminated her, discriminated against her based on
her gender, and retaliated against Plaintiff for complaining
to the EEOC. See generally, Complaint, ECF No. 1.
Claims such as these are routinely brought in federal court
under the plaintiff's real name. Moreover, prosecuting
Plaintiff's claims do not require Plaintiff to disclose
highly sensitive information of the utmost privacy.
Id. In this regard, Plaintiff's reliance on
Doe v. Univ. of St. Thomas, No. 16-cv-1127, 2016 WL
9307609 at *1 (D. Minn. May 25, 2016) is misplaced. In
Doe v. Univ. of St. Thomas, the complaint and its
supporting documents described private sexual acts between
two young college students. Id. The Court, in
allowing plaintiff to proceed pseudonymously, found that
“forcing Mr. Doe to proceed under his true name would
guarantee a permanent label as a sex offender . . . arguably
worse than the reputational harm he complains of from the
University's confidential disciplinary
proceedings.” Id. at *3. Here, Plaintiff's
privacy interests do not outweigh the public's interest
in an open proceeding. See Luckett, 21 F.Supp.2d at
should be given 60 days to file an amended complaint that
conforms to Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(a).
motion to dismiss is based entirely on the plaintiff's
failure to identify herself in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P.
10(a). If Plaintiff files an amended complaint that
identifies her, the Defendant's motion to dismiss will
immediately become moot. In the event the plaintiff fails to
file such an amended complaint, Defendant is free to renew
his motion to dismiss.