United States District Court, D. Minnesota
ORDER ADOPTING AS MODIFIED REPORT AND
Wilhelmina M. Wright United States District Judge
Elroy Rogers initiated this lawsuit against federal, state,
and county agencies and individuals over the quarantine,
seizure, and subsequent destruction of his sheep. Currently
before the Court is the January 26, 2018 Report and
Recommendation (R&R) of United States Magistrate Judge
Franklin L. Noel, (Dkt. 50), which recommends granting State
Defendants' and County Defendants' respective motions
to dismiss and dismissing Rogers's complaint. Rogers
filed timely objections to the R&R, (Dkt. 51), to which
State Defendants timely responded, (Dkt. 54). Because Federal
Defendants' motion to dismiss is pending, the Court
rejects the R&R's recommendation to dismiss the
complaint. The Court adopts the R&R's remaining
Defendants present two jurisdictional challenges-that the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars the Court from
exercising jurisdiction over Rogers's complaint and that
Defendant Board of Animal Health (BAH) is entitled to
sovereign immunity. Because jurisdiction is a threshold
requirement in every federal lawsuit, see Sanders v.
Clemco Indus., 823 F.2d 214, 216 (8th Cir. 1987), the
Court addresses State Defendants' jurisdictional
arguments before reaching Rogers's objections to the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprives federal district
courts of subject-matter jurisdiction over certain claims
related to state court decisions. See Rooker v. Fid. Tr.
Co., 263 U.S. 413, 416 (1923); D.C. Court of Appeals
v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482-84 (1983). Under this
doctrine, a federal district court does not have
subject-matter jurisdiction over any claim seeking direct
review of a state court judgment, Skit Int'l, Ltd. v.
DAC Techs. of Ark., Inc., 487 F.3d 1154, 1157 (8th Cir.
2007), or any claim that is “inextricably
intertwined” with a state court decision, Simes v.
Huckabee, 354 F.3d 823, 827 (8th Cir. 2004) (internal
quotation marks omitted). “A claim is inextricably
intertwined if the federal claim succeeds only to the extent
that the state court wrongly decided the issues before
it.” Charchenko v. City of Stillwater, 47 F.3d
981, 983 (8th Cir. 1995).
Rogers asserts that Defendants engaged in unlawful conduct
throughout the civil and criminal proceedings concerning the
seizure of Rogers's sheep. Rogers seeks damages to
compensate him for his detention resulting from the criminal
proceeding. In addition, some of Rogers's claims
challenge the orders authorizing the quarantine and seizure
of his sheep. But granting any claim for relief arising from
Rogers's detention or the quarantine or seizure of his
sheep is “inextricably intertwined” with a state
court decision because such a claim “succeeds only to
the extent that the state court wrongly decided the issues
before it.” See Id. Therefore, to the extent
that any claim arises from allegations that Rogers's
sheep were unlawfully quarantined or seized or from
allegations that Rogers was unlawfully detained, such claims
are barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. See
Simes, 354 F.3d at 827.
Defendants also argue that BAH is entitled to sovereign
immunity. U.S. Const. amend. XI; accord Seminole Tribe of
Fla. v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 54 (1996). Because
sovereign immunity is a threshold jurisdictional matter,
Lors v. Dean, 746 F.3d 857, 861 (8th Cir. 2014), the
Court addresses it before reaching the merits of the
complaint. The Eleventh Amendment entitles states to
sovereign immunity, which prevents any federal court from
exercising jurisdiction over a lawsuit against a state unless
the state consents. Seminole Tribe, 517 U.S. at 54.
This immunity extends to state agencies. Pennhurst State
Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984).
Because Defendant BAH is an agency of the state of Minnesota,
see Minn. Stat. §§ 35.01 et seq.,
and Minnesota has not consented to be sued in federal court,
BAH is entitled to sovereign immunity. For this reason, all
claims against BAH are dismissed.
summary, all claims alleging that Rogers was unlawfully
detained or alleging that Rogers's sheep were unlawfully
quarantined or seized are barred by the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine. In addition, all claims
against BAH are barred by sovereign immunity. All such claims
are dismissed, and the R&R is adopted as modified to the
extent that it is inconsistent with this conclusion.
Rogers's Objections to the R&R
objects to the R&R's recommendation to grant State
Defendants' and County Defendants' respective motions
to dismiss. Rogers maintains that his complaint states
plausible claims on which relief can be granted. In addition,
Rogers objects to the R&R's recommendation to dismiss
his complaint, rather than grant him leave to amend.
district court reviews de novo those portions of an R&R
to which an objection is made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).
But when a party fails to file specific objections to an
R&R, de novo review is not required. See Cowherd v.
Million, 380 F.3d 909, 912 (6th Cir. 2004); Bui v.
U.S. Attorney's Office, No. 15-2001, 2015 WL
6758142, at *1 (D. Minn. Nov. 5, 2015) (“Objections to
an R&R that are not specific but merely repeat arguments
presented to and considered by a magistrate judge are not
entitled to de novo review, but rather are reviewed
for clear error.”). Under those circumstances, a court
reviews for clear error.
makes no specific objections to the R&R's analysis of
his claims, nor does he provide legal support for his claims.
Even when liberally construed, Rogers's objections do not
address the R&R's legal analysis. Rogers merely
repeats the arguments that were previously presented to the
magistrate judge. Accordingly, the Court reviews the R&R
for clear error. A ruling is clearly erroneous when the
reviewing court “is left with the definite and firm
conviction that a mistake has been committed.”
Wells Fargo & Co. v. United States, 750
F.Supp.2d 1049, 1050 (D. Minn. 2010) (internal quotation
R&R recommends granting State Defendants' and County
Defendants' respective motions to dismiss for failure to
state a claim because the complaint's pleadings are
insufficient as they fail to identify any legal theory under
which relief can be granted. A complaint must set forth a
short and plain statement showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To survive a motion
to dismiss, a complaint must allege sufficient facts such
that, when accepted as true, a facially plausible claim for
relief is stated. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009). The factual allegations need not be
detailed; but they must be sufficient to “raise a right
to relief above the speculative level” in order to
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555, 570 (2007). This pleading standard demands more
than unadorned accusations. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
When determining whether a complaint states a claim for
relief that is plausible on its face, a district court
accepts as true all factual allegations in the complaint and
draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor.
Blankenship v. USA Truck, Inc., 601 F.3d 852, 853
(8th Cir. 2010).
Rogers's complaint cites a variety of constitutional
provisions, Rogers does not explain which claims are asserted
against which defendants or which factual allegations
correspond with which theories of relief. As the R&R
correctly determines, these defects render Rogers's
complaint inadequate to satisfy the requirements of Rule 8.
See Liggins v. Morris, 749 F.Supp. 967, 971 (D.
Minn. 1990) (observing that a complaint is inadequate under
Rule 8 when it requires “the court to divine what
discrete constitutional violations are in fact legitimate and
proper . . . as against each defendant”). In ...