United States District Court, D. Minnesota
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Franklin L. Noel United States Magistrate Judge
1996, beneficiaries of Individual Indian Money
(“IIM”) trust accounts brought a class action
against several officers of the federal government alleging
that the officials had violated their fiduciary duties as
trustees acting on behalf of the Untied States. See
Cobell v. Salazar, 573 F.3d 808, 809 (D.C. Cir. 2009).
The case meandered through the federal courts,
Jarndyce-like, for a generation. Not until 2011 was
final approval given by the district court to a class
settlement. See Cobell v. Salazar, 679 F.3d 909, 916
(D.C. Cir. 2012). Ancillary matters related to that
litigation, such as attorney's-fee disputes, remain
pending to this day. See Cobell v. Jewell, 234
F.Supp.3d 126 (D.D.C. 2017).
a Minnesota state prisoner, believes he suffered the same
harms that befell the Cobell plaintiffs. Fisherman
did not pay the filing fee for this action, but instead
applied for in forma pauperis (“IFP”)
status. After review of the IFP application, this Court
concludes that Fisherman qualifies financially for IFP
status. Nevertheless, an action may be dismissed
when an IFP applicant has filed a complaint that fails to
state a cause of action on which relief may be granted.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii); Atkinson
v. Bohn, 91 F.3d 1127, 1128 (8th Cir. 1996) (per
curiam). In reviewing whether a complaint states a claim on
which relief may be granted, this Court must accept as true
all of the factual allegations in the complaint and draw all
reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Aten
v. Scottsdale Ins. Co., 511 F.3d 818, 820 (8th Cir.
2008). Although the factual allegations in the complaint need
not be detailed, they must be sufficient to “raise a
right to relief above the speculative level . . . .”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). The complaint must “state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. In
assessing the sufficiency of the complaint, the court may
disregard legal conclusions that are couched as factual
allegations. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662
(2009). Pro se complaints are to be construed liberally, but
they still must allege sufficient facts to support the claims
advanced. See Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th
offers no factual allegations that, if proved true, would
demonstrate that the federal government has mismanaged any
money held in IIM trust for his benefit, or that he is
entitled to relief from the federal government for any other
reason. Indeed, Fisherman does nothing more than point to the
Cobell litigation and suggest that he, too, must
have suffered similar harms as those plaintiffs. See
Compl. at 6 [ECF No. 1]. But vague gesturing towards other
litigation is hardly sufficient to put the defendant or the
Court on notice of the specific allegations being made by
Fisherman in this lawsuit. Fisherman does not claim
that he was the beneficiary of an IIM trust account during
the period in question, nor does he set forth allegations
demonstrating how governmental officials might have breached
fiduciary duties with respect to his IIM trust account.
this Court were to adopt wholesale the allegations set forth
in Cobell as applying to this litigation, this
action could not go forward. Cobell was a class
action. To the extent that Fisherman's allegations mirror
those raised in Cobell - and, by all appearances,
this is nothing more than a “me too” complaint -
his claims have already been adjudicated through approval of
the final settlement entered and approved in Cobell
over six years ago. Fisherman's recourse to relief for the
harms litigated in Cobell is through presenting a
claim through the procedures established by the
Cobell settlement (an administrative process that
remains open presently), not through the filing of a
mirroring lawsuit several years after the settlement was
finalized and an even greater number of years after the
conclusion of the actions and omissions at issue in
event, the allegations of wrongdoing raised in
Fisherman's complaint are entirely conclusory. Fisherman
claims that government officials “violated their
fiduciary duties” without providing anything more than
a citation to a different lawsuit in support of his
allegation. See Compl. at 6. Although Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,
” more is required of Fisherman than he has provided.
Accordingly, it is hereby recommended that this matter be
dismissed without prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
on the foregoing, and on all of the files, records, and
proceedings herein, IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED THAT:
matter be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and 1915A.
Plaintiff Corey Edward Fisherman's application to proceed
in forma pauperis [ECF No. 2] be DENIED.
Fisherman pay the unpaid balance of the statutory filing fee
for this action ($350.00) in the manner prescribed by 28
U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2), and the Clerk of Court provide
notice of this requirement to the authorities at the
institution where Fisherman is confined.
Objections: This Report and Recommendation is not an
order or judgment of the District Court and is therefore not
appealable directly to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Local Rule 72.2(b)(1), “a party may file and serve
specific written objections to a magistrate judge's
proposed finding and recommendations within 14 days after
being served a copy” of the Report and Recommendation.
A party may respond to those objections within 14 days after
being served a copy of the objections. LR 72.2(b)(2). ...