Stamey et al v. Howell et al
ORDER granting 44 Motion for Summary Judgment. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants' Motion to Strike 47 , Motion in Limine 51 , and Notice and Motion to Dismiss 57 , as well as Plaintiffs' Memo Requesting Extension in Response to Motion in Limine 56 are DENIED AS MOOT. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court is directed to enter judgment in this case in favor of Defendants. Signed by Judge Dana L. Christensen on 3/13/2018. (ASG)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MONTANA
RICHARD STAMEY and VALERIE
MICHAEL HOWELL, VICTORIA
HOWELL, and BITTERROOT STAR,
Plaintiffs Richard Stamey and Valerie Stamey (collectively, "the Stameys")
filed their complaint in this matter on February 11, 2016. (Doc. 1.) Defendants
filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on December 15, 2017, (Doc. 44), and a
Motion to Strike on December 19, 2017, (Doc. 47). On January 5, 2018, following
the disbarment of the Stameys' counsel, this Court gave the Stameys thirty days to
either retain new counsel or notify the Court of their intent to represent themselves.
(Doc. 50 at 2.) Further, the Court gave the Stameys an extension of time in which
to respond to the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion to
Strike, ordering that the Stameys must file their responses no later than February
25, 2018. (Id.) Importantly, the Court warned the Stameys that their case may be
dismissed for failure to prosecute and that failure to file the ordered responses in
time would result in the Court treating the Motion to Strike as well taken and the
facts underlying the Motion for Summary Judgment as being undisputed for
purposes of that Motion. (Id.)
The Stameys complied with the Court's January 5, 2018, Order only to the
extent that they notified the Court of their intent to proceed prose. However, as of
the date of this Order, the Stameys have neither filed their responses nor requested
an extension of the deadline for their responses. Taking note of this, Defendants
filed a Notice and Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 57) alerting the Court of the ripeness of
their Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion to Strike. For the following
reasons, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.
A party is entitled to summary judgment if it can demonstrate that "there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Summary judgment is warranted where
the documentary evidence produced by the parties permits only one conclusion.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251 (1986). A party opposing a
properly supported motion for summary judgment "may not rest upon mere
allegation or denials of his pleading, but must set forth specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial." Id. at 256. Only disputes over facts that might
affect the outcome of the lawsuit will preclude entry of summary judgment; factual
disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary to the outcome are not considered. Id. at
248. In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, "[t]he evidence of the nonmovant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his
favor." Id. at 255. The "mere existence ofa scintilla of evidence in support of the
plaintiffs position" is insufficient to defeat a properly supported motion for
summary judgment. Id. at 252. The Ninth Circuit has held that summary
judgment "by default" is prohibited even if "there is a complete failure to respond
to the motion." Heinemann v. Satterberg, 731 F.3d 914, 917 (2013) (quoting Fed.
R. Civ. P. 56 Advisory Committee Notes (2010)). However, ifthere is a failure to
respond, a court is permitted to consider the facts in the motion to be undisputed
for purposes of the motion. Id.
Treating the facts in Defendants' Motion as undisputed, and after reviewing
the record in this matter, the Court is satisfied that the merits of this case warrant
granting summary judgment in favor of the Defendants. The Stameys' inability to
establish that the newspaper story at issue is false is fatal to their claims for libel.
See Jonas v. Lake Cnty. Leader, 953 F. Supp. 2d 1117, 1126 (D. Mont. 2013)
(quoting Citizens First Nat 'l Bank of Wolf Point v. Moe Motor Co., 813 P .2d 400,
404 (Mont. 1991) ("It is well-established that 'truth is a complete defense to a
claim of defamation."). As the Court finds summary judgment is merited in this
case, all other pending motions will be denied as moot. Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
44) is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants' Motion to Strike (Doc. 47),
Motion in Limine (Doc. 51 ), and Notice and Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 57), as well
as Plaintiffs' Memo Requesting Extension in Response to Motion in Limine (Doc.
56) are DENIED AS MOOT.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court is directed to enter
judgment in this case in favor of Defendants in this case.
DATED this \')#.day of March, 2018.
Dana L. Christensen, Chief Judge
United States District Court
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