Peltier v. Mr. McTighe et al
ORDER ADOPTING 20 FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS; granting 16 Motion to Dismiss filed by Ms. Alstead. Plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief against this Defendant in her official capacity is DISMISSED. Signed by Judge Brian Morris on 7/29/2022. Mailed to Peltier. (TAG)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MONTANA
GREAT FALLS DIVISION
THOMAS GENE PELTIER,
WARDEN MCTIGHE; CAPTAIN
WIRSHING; ASSISTANT WARDEN
NELSON; D.O.C. CONTRACT BED
MONITOR ALSTAD; CHAPLAIN
JOHNSON; CORE CIVIC OF
Cause no. CV 21-65-BMM-JTJ
Plaintiff Thomas Peltier (“Peltier”) filed this action against the CoreCivic
Defendants and Defendant Alstad, seeking injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
(Doc. 11.) Alstad, a Montana Department of Corrections employee, filed a partial
motion to dismiss on February 22, 2022. (Doc. 16.) United States Magistrate Judge
John T. Johnston entered his Findings and Recommendations in this case on April
1, 2022. (Doc. 20.)
Magistrate Judge Johnston recommended that the Court grant Alstad’s motion
and dismiss Peltier’s claim for injunctive relief against Alstad. (Doc. 20 at 6.) A
plaintiff may seek injunctive relief under § 1983 against a state official only when
the official has a direct connection to enforcement of an allegedly unconstitutional
act. See Snoeck v. Brussa, 153 F.3d 984, 986 (9th Cir. 1998). Magistrate Judge
Johnston determined that Peltier failed to plead a causal connection between Alstad
and the purported constitutional violations arising out of the September 29, 2019
cancelled sweat lodge ceremony. (Doc. 20 at 6.) Peltier filed an objection to the
Findings and Recommendations on April 12, 2022. (Doc. 24.) The Court reviewed
Magistrate Judge Johnston’s Findings and Recommendations and adopts them in full
for the reasons discussed below.
The Court reviews de novo those findings and recommendations to which a
party timely objected. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). Where a party’s objections
constitute perfunctory responses argued in an attempt to engage the district court in
a re-litigation of the same arguments set forth in the complaint, however, the Court
reviews for clear error the applicable portions of the findings and recommendations.
Rosling v. Kirkegard, 2014 WL 693315, at *3 (D. Mont. Feb. 21, 2014). The Court
also reviews for clear error the portion of the Findings and Recommendations to
which the party did not specifically object. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.
Commodore Bus. Mach., Inc., 656 F.2d 1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981).
Peltier objects to Magistrate Judge Johnston’s determination that Peltier failed
to plead facts sufficient to state a claim. (Doc. 24.) Peltier argues that he is “protected
against the Defendant’s argument” by Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 26(a)(1)(B)(iv), which
provides an exemption to initial disclosures for an action brought without an attorney
by a person in the custody of the United States, a state, or a state subdivision. (Doc.
24.) Peltier misapprehends the purpose of Rule 26. Rule 26(a)(1)(B)(iv) governs a
pro se plaintiff’s obligations during discovery, but it bears no impact on the
plaintiff’s obligation to state a claim in his complaint. A complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face in order to survive a motion to dismiss. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for
the misconduct alleged. Id.
Magistrate Judge Johnston properly applied the Ashcroft v. Iqbal standard and
determined that Peltier insufficiently pled a causal connection between Alstad and
the purported constitutional violations arising out of a September 29, 2019 cancelled
sweat lodge ceremony. (Doc. 20 at 5-6.) Magistrate Judge Johnston points out that
Peltier advances only a vague claim that Alstad did not do the job that the state hired
her to do and allowed CoreCivic employees to violate the rights of the Native
American inmate population by allegedly making a false weather statement that
prevented the sweat lodge ceremony from taking place. (Doc. 20 at 5.) The Court
finds no error in Magistrate Judge Johnston’s analysis.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that:
1. Magistrate Judge Johnston’s Findings and Recommendations (Doc. 20) are
ADOPTED IN FULL.
2. Defendant Alstad’s Partial Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 16) is
GRANTED; Plaintiff’s claim for injunctive relief against this Defendant in her
official capacity is DISMISSED.
3. At all times during the pendency of this action, Mr. Peltier must
immediately advise the Court and opposing counsel of any change of address and
its effective date. Failure to file a notice of change of address may result in the
dismissal of the action for failure to prosecute pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b).
DATED this 29th day of July, 2022.
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