Huot v. Montana State Department of Child and Family Services et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: It is ordered that Pla's 1 Complaint is DISMISSED. It is further ordered that 3 MOTION for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis, 4 MOTION to Appoint Counsel, and 5 MOTION to Set Aside Adoption & Reinstate Full Parental Rights are DENIED AS MOOT. Signed by Judge Joseph M. Hood on 7/21/2017.(SCD)cc: Pro Se Pla via US Mail
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
CENTRAL DIVISION at LEXINGTON
MONTANA STATE DEPARTMENT OF
CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES, et
Civil Case No.
Plaintiff Safron Huot has filed a pro se Complaint, as well
as a Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis [DE 3], Motion
to Appoint Counsel [DE 4], and Motion to Set Aside Adoption and
Reinstate Full Parental Rights [DE 5].
Because Plaintiff has
submitted a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, the Court must
conduct an initial screening of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
“[A]llegations of a complaint drafted by a pro se litigant
are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted
Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991).
But see Frengler v. Gen. Motors, 482 F. App’x 975, 976 (6th Cir.
2012) (observing that “this lenient treatment has limits”).
the Court determines that this matter is frivolous or malicious,
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief,
dismissal is appropriate.
See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d
601, 608 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by LaFountain
v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013)).
“[U]nder Rule 15(a)
a district court can allow a plaintiff to amend his complaint even
when the complaint is subject to dismissal under [28 U.S.C. §
LaFountain, 716 F.3d at 951.
However, such relief
amendment,” making it “futile to permit an amended complaint.”
See, e.g., Milstead v. Bedford Cty. Sheriff’s Dep’t, No. 4:12-CV52, 2014 WL 420395, at *9 (E.D. Tenn. Feb. 4, 2014) (citing
LaFountain, 716 F.3d at 944).
present in this matter, characterizing it as a civil rights action
arising out of a judicial proceeding that terminated her parental
rights in 2012.
She seeks damages from the Montana State
Department of Child and Family Services, the Montana Supreme Court,
the Deer Lodge County District Court of Montana, and Judge Ray
Dayton, as well as attorneys, guardians ad litem, psychologists,
family members, and other individuals involved in that proceeding.
She also asks the Court to grant her full custody of her
On September 6, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint asserting
the same claims against these Defendants in the United States
District Court for the District of Oregon.
See Huot v. Montana
St. Dep’t of Child and Family Servs., No. 3:16-cv-1767-KI (D.
Oregon Sept. 6, 2016), DE 1.
She also sought the same relief that
she has requested in this case.
On September 13, 2016, the
Honorable Garr M. King issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order
dismissing Plaintiff’s Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) for
lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
Id. at DE 9.
appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for
the Ninth Circuit.
Id. at DE 10.
The Ninth Circuit dismissed the
appeal for failure to perfect it in a timely fashion and denied
Plaintiff’s subsequent Motion to Reinstate the Appeal.
Id. at DE
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has
A claim is barred by the res judicata effect of prior
litigation if all of the following elements are present:
“(1) a final decision on the merits by a court of
competent jurisdiction; (2) a subsequent action between
the same parties or their ‘privies’; (3) an issue in the
subsequent action which was litigated or which should
have been litigated in the prior action; and (4) an
identity of the causes of action.”
Browning v. Levy, 283 F.3d 761, 771-72 (6th Cir. 2002) (quoting
Bittinger v. Tecumseh Prods. Co., 123 F.3d 877, 880 (6th Cir.
In the Oregon case, Judge King concluded that “subject matter
jurisdiction is not apparent on the face of the complaint” and
dismissing the case without prejudice.
judgment on the merits.
This qualifies as a final
See Hill v. Elting, 9 F. App’x 321, 322
(6th Cir. 2001) (holding that dismissal of a complaint under §
1915(e) had res judicata effect on a subsequent identical action).
Plaintiff subsequently filed the Complaint in this Court, raising
the same claims and issues discussed in the Oregon case against
the same Defendants named therein.1
claims are barred by res judicata.
The Court will not grant
Plaintiff leave to amend her Complaint because such an exercise
would be futile in this situation.2
See Winget v. JP Morgan Chase
Bank, N.A., 537 F.3d 565, 572-73 (6th Cir. 2008) (explaining that
leave to amend is futile if res judicata bars the claim).
Accordingly, for the reasons stated herein,
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Complaint [DE 1] be, and is,
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to
Proceed In Forma Pauperis [DE 3], Motion to Appoint Counsel [DE
The Court notes that Plaintiff named three additional Defendants in the
Oregon case who are not named here. This does not change the Court’s
res judicata analysis because all Defendants named in this action were
also Defendants in the Oregon case.
Even if Plaintiff is able to amend her Complaint to assert different
claims or add Defendants that are not subject to res judicata, amendment
would nevertheless be futile because venue is improper, for the same
reasons explained by Judge King in his Memorandum Opinion and Order.
See Huot, 3:16-cv-1767-KI (D. Oregon Sept. 13, 2016), DE 9.
4], and Motion to Set Aside Adoption and Reinstate Full Parental
Rights [DE 5] be, and are, hereby DENIED AS MOOT.
This the 21st day of July, 2017.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?