United States District Court, D. Minnesota
WILHELMINA M. WRIGHT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' objections to
the June 6, 2019 combined Order and Report and Recommendation
(R&R) of United States Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois.
(Dkts. 50, 51.) For the reasons addressed below, the R&R
is rejected, and the Order is affirmed in all other respects.
James Briks and Jerome Briks commenced this lawsuit on
January 8, 2019, against the law firm of Smith, Strege,
Fredericksen, Butts, & Clark, Ltd and one of the
firm's lawyers, Richard E.T. Smith. Plaintiffs allege
that Defendants' actions violated the Fourteenth
Amendment to the United States Constitution when Defendants
established a trust for Plaintiffs' brother and
improperly placed certain property in it.
February 8, 2019, Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint
for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and failure to state
a claim. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), (6). Plaintiffs subsequently
filed a “Notice” on February 19, 2019, which
contained an exhibit labeled “Amended Complaint.”
In the June 6, 2019 Order and R&R, the magistrate judge
recommended granting Defendants' motion to dismiss the
January 8, 2019 complaint and ruled on several nondispositive
issues raised by the parties.
object to the magistrate judge's recommendation to grant
the motion to dismiss and appeal the remainder of the
magistrate judge's order.
Objection to the R&R
plaintiff timely objects to an R&R, the district court
reviews de novo those portions of the R&R to which the
objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); LR 72.2(b)(3). The district court also
may review an R&R “sua sponte or at the
request of a party, under a de novo or any other
standard.” Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 154
(1985) (observing that the “district judge has
jurisdiction over the case at all times” and
“retains full authority to decide whether to refer a
case to the magistrate, to review the magistrate's
report, and to enter judgment”).
February 19, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint,
which was within the 21-day period during which a plaintiff
may file an amendment as a matter of course. Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a)(1)(B) (providing a 21-day deadline for a party to amend
its pleading after service of a Rule 12(b) motion). Although
Plaintiffs filed the amended complaint as an exhibit to a
document labeled “Notice, ” pro se
filings are liberally construed. See Williams v.
Carter, 10 F.3d 563, 567 (8th Cir. 1993)
(“Pleadings and other documents filed by pro se
litigants should be treated with a degree of indulgence . . .
.”). As such, the February 19, 2019 amended complaint
is the operative complaint in this matter. For this reason,
the Court rejects the R&R's recommendation to grant
Defendants' motion to dismiss the January 8, 2019
complaint. Instead, Defendants' motion to dismiss the
January 8, 2019 complaint is denied as moot.
Appeal of the Magistrate Judge's Order
appeal the magistrate judge's rulings on three
nondispositive issues: the striking of Plaintiffs'
second, unsolicited memorandum of law, the termination of
Plaintiffs' Motion to Show Cause, and the denial of
Plaintiffs' motion for sanctions.
plaintiff appeals a magistrate judge's order on
nondispositive issues, the district court applies an
“extremely deferential” standard of review.
Scott v. United States, 552 F.Supp.2d 917, 919 (D.
Minn. 2008). The district court will modify or set aside such
a ruling only if it is clearly erroneous or contrary to law.
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); LR
72.2(a)(3); Ferguson v. United States, 484 F.3d
1068, 1076 (8th Cir. 2007). A ruling is clearly erroneous
when, after reviewing the evidence in its entirety, the 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). A
nondispositive ruling is contrary to law when it “fails
to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law or rules
of procedure.” Id. (internal quotation marks