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Wright v. Magill

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 7, 2019

Peter R. Wright, Plaintiff,
v.
Judge Frank Magill and Hennepin County 4th District Court, Defendants.

          Peter R. Wright, pro se; and

          Kathryn Iverson Landrum, Minnesota Attorney General's Office, for Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Steven E. Rau United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, (ECF No. 13), as well as several motions filed by Plaintiff Peter Wright in response, (ECF Nos. 24, 25, 28, 32, 33). These motions have been referred for report and recommendation to the Honorable John R. Tunheim, Chief United States District Judge for the District of Minnesota, under 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rule 72.2(b). (ECF No. 20). This Court recommends Defendants' motion be granted, Wright's motions be denied, and this matter be dismissed with prejudice.

         I. PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Wright filed a civil complaint in Minnesota's Fourth Judicial District on May 25, 2017. (Compl., at 4, ECF No. 1). Wright brought suit pro se, alleging his brother and a credit union committed fraud in connection with the sale of a car. (Compl., at 4); Order Granting Summ. J., Case No. 27-cv-17-7938 (Minn. Fourth Jud. Dist. June 13, 2018) [provided via Aff. of Kathryn Iverson Landrum, Ex. A, ECF No. 17].[1] Judge Magill granted summary judgment to the defendants. (Compl., at 5).

         Sixteen days later, Wright filed this case. Wright claims Judge Magill committed various legal maladies in granting summary judgment, including denying Wright equal protection of the law in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 241, 18 U.S.C. § 242, the First, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. (Compl., at 2, 6). Wright also alleges Judge Magill was negligent, engaged in biased judicial conduct, committed an act of sabotage, and failed to register as an agent of a foreign government. (Compl., at 2, 6). Wright claims Judge Magill failed to comply with the Code of Judicial Conduct for United States Courts and Judges. (Compl., at 3). Wright requests $100 million in damages, that Judge Magill be prohibited from serving as a Minnesota state judge and his law license be revoked, Judge Magill personally pay Wright $50 million, and that Judge Magill be required to register as a foreign agent. (Compl., at 8).

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Standard

         “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and the ‘threshold requirement in every federal case is jurisdiction.'” Barclay Square Prop. v. Midwest Fed. Sav. and Loan Ass'n of Minneapolis, 893 F.2d 968, 969 (8th Cir. 1990) (quoting Sanders v. Clemco Indus., 823 F.2d 214, 216 (8th Cir. 1987)). Federal courts must dismiss a claim if it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the claim. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3), 12(b)(1). When considering a facial attack on jurisdiction in a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, the court “merely needs to look and see if plaintiff has sufficiently alleged a basis of subject matter jurisdiction.” Branson Label, Inc. v. City of Branson, Mo., 793 F.3d 910, 914 (8th Cir. 2015) (quotation omitted). Under such an analysis, the court restricts itself to the pleadings and the non-moving party is afforded the same protections as those provided by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Id.

         In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and then determines “whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 664 (2009). The court must draw reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Zink v. Lombardi, 783 F.3d 1089, 1098 (8th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Sletten & Brettin Orthodontics v. Cont'l Cas. Co., 782 F.3d 931, 934 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007)); accord Zink, 783 F.3d at 1098. Facial plausibility of a claim exists “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Although a sufficient complaint need not be detailed, it must contain “[f]actual allegations . . . enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted); see Id. (“The pleading must contain something more . . . than . . . a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion of a legally cognizable right of action.”) (quotations and citation omitted). Additionally, complaints are insufficient if they contain “naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         In assessing a pro se complaint, the court applies “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam) (quotation and citation omitted); accord Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 541 (8th Cir. 2014). “If the essence of an allegation is discernible, ” then the court, in applying a liberal construction to pro se complaints, “should construe the complaint in a way that permits the layperson's claim to be considered within the proper legal framework.” Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoting Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004)). Despite the liberal construal of such complaints, the pro se plaintiff “still must allege sufficient facts to support the claims advanced.” Stringer v. St. James R-1 Sch. Dist., 446 F.3d 799, 802 (8th Cir. 2006) (quoting Stone, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004)). Thus, pro se litigants “must set a claim forth in a manner which, taking the pleaded facts as true, states a claim as a matter of law.” Stringer, 446 F.3d at 802 (quoting Cunningham v. Ray, 648 F.2d 1185, 1186 (8th Cir. 1981)).

         B. Judge Magill is Immune from Suit

         “The immunity of a judge for acts within his jurisdiction has roots extending to the earliest days of the common law.” Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 423 n.20 (1976). “A judge is entitled to absolute immunity for all judicial actions that are not ‘taken in a complete absence of all jurisdiction.'” Penn v. United States, 335 F.3d 786, 789 (8th Cir. 2003) (quoting Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11-12 (1991)). Thus, “a judge is immune from liability for damages if he had ...


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