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Gaede v. Bertsch

Supreme Court of North Dakota

March 30, 2017

Dennis James Gaede, Plaintiff and Appellant
v.
Leann Katherine Bertsch, Director of the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations, Defendant and Appellee

         Appeal from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable Thomas J. Schneider, Judge.

         AFFIRMED.

          Dennis J. Gaede plaintiff and appellant; on brief.

          Matthew A. Sagsveen for defendant and appellee; on brief.

          OPINION

          Kapsner, Justice.

         [¶ 1] Dennis Gaede appeals from a judgment dismissing his amended complaint against Leann Bertsch, Director of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and from an order denying his motion for relief from the judgment. We affirm.

         I

         [¶ 2] In 2006, Gaede was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. This Court affirmed his conviction and affirmed denials of his applications for post-conviction relief. See Gaede v. State, 2015 ND 160, 870 N.W.2d 26; Gaede v. State, 2013 ND 41, 832 N.W.2d 334; Gaede v. State, 2011 ND 162, 801 N.W.2d 707; State v. Gaede, 2007 ND 125, 736 N.W.2d 418. He is serving his sentence in the North Dakota State Penitentiary.

         [¶ 3] In November 2015, Gaede sued Bertsch, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. Gaede alleged Bertsch violated N.D.C.C. § 23-06-03 by fraudulently claiming he will be responsible for his funeral and burial expenses upon his death. He claimed Cass County is responsible for his funeral expenses under N.D.C.C. § 23-06-03, but Bertsch automatically places 25 percent of his earned monies into a release aid account and the funds are being held to pay for his future funeral expenses. Gaede requested the court order all money the Department is holding in his release aid account be returned to him and grant a permanent injunction preventing Bertsch from deducting any further amounts for deposit in his release aid account for future funeral expenses. In December 2015, Gaede amended his complaint to sue Bertsch in both her official and personal capacities.

         [¶ 4] On December 31, 2015, Bertsch moved to dismiss the amended complaint under N.D.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). She argued the amended complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because injunctive relief cannot be granted against her in her personal capacity and the Department has authority to deduct and transfer an inmate's earned funds to a release account under N.D.C.C. § 12-48-15.

         [¶ 5] On January 22, 2016, Gaede moved to amend the amended complaint. He stated he made an error in the amended complaint and incorrectly identified Bertsch in both her personal and official capacities. On January 26, 2016, Gaede filed a second amended complaint, suing Bertsch in her official capacity. On January 27, 2016, Bertsch responded stating she did not oppose Gaede's motion to amend his complaint if the second amended complaint was his proposed complaint.

         [¶ 6] On January 27, 2016, the district court dismissed the amended complaint with prejudice. Judgment was entered.

         [¶ 7] On May 16, 2016, Gaede moved for relief from the judgment under N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1), (2), and (6). Gaede claimed he was entitled to relief from the judgment because he did not provide the court with a copy of his will showing his family will be taking possession of his body upon his death, and therefore the Department cannot charge him for funeral or burial expenses. He also claimed he was denied due process because he was not given an opportunity to argue the Department's policies are unconstitutional and violate the equal protection clause. The district court ...


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