United States District Court, D. North Dakota
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION RE 1915(E)(2) SCREENING AND
ORDER STAYING FURTHER ACTION PENDING CONSIDERATION OF THIS
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
CHARLES S. MILLER, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Angela Hansen (“Hansen”), acting pro se,
initiated this action on March 31, 2017, against individuals
working in the North Dakota state courts and law enforcement,
ranging from justices on the North Dakota Supreme Court to
state district court judges to North Dakota attorneys and to
North Dakota state court administrative staff, amongst
others. (Doc. Nos. 1, 10, 11). What follows is the
undersigned's review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
action stems from various state court actions involving the
divorce of Hansen and defendant Shannon Dieterle. The North
Dakota Supreme Court outlined the circumstances giving rise
to this action in Dieterle v. Dieterle, 2016 ND 36,
875 N.W.2d 479 and Dieterle v. Dieterle, 2013 ND 71,
830 N.W.2d 571. Generally, the state district court divided
the marital assets, awarded Hansen temporary spousal support,
and awarded Shannon Dieterle custody of the couple's
daughter. The state district court subsequently held Hansen
in contempt of court for failing to abide by its orders. On
the two appeals, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the
division of marital property, the spousal support award, the
custody determination, and the finding of contempt.
closure of the state court proceedings, Hansen initiated this
action on March 31, 2017. (Doc. No. 1). Before any of the
defendants answered, Hansen filed a First Amended Complaint
(Doc. No. 10) and a Second Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 11).
In the Second Amended Complaint, Hansen alleges the
defendants, both individually and in concert, violated
constitutional, federal, and state law in various state court
proceedings. Hansen alleges these violations resulted in
deprivation of her property, both personal and real, and her
parental rights. Hansen's Second Amended Complaint
contains fourteen claims arising under federal and state law
for: (1) violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c); (2)
conspiracy to violate 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c); (3) fraud;
(4) kidnaping under N.D.C.C. § 12.1-18 and hostage
taking under 18 U.S.C. § 1203; (5) trespass to chattels;
(6) unjust enrichment; (7) civil conspiracy; (8) violations
of North Dakota Canons of Judicial Conduct; (9) declaratory
judgment; (10) fraudulent conversion; (11) intentional
infliction of emotional distress; (12) violations of 42
U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985; (13) breach of
fiduciary duty; and (14) aiding and abetting. In her prayer
for relief, Hansen seeks monetary damages, a declaration that
the various state court judgments are invalid, an injunction
against enforcement of the state court judgments, and other
any paid filing fee, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) provides
“the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the
court determines that . . . the action (i) is frivolous or
malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant
who is immune from such relief.” This § 1915(e)(2)
screening, and the authority to dismiss claims arising
thereunder, includes non-prisoner pro se complaints. Key
v. Does, 217 F.Supp.3d 1006, 1007 (W.D. Ark. 2016). With
regard to frivolousness under § 1915(e)(2)(i),
“the Supreme Court explained that an action is
frivolous if ‘it lacks an arguable basis either in law
or in fact.'” Aziz v. Burrows, 976 F.2d
1158, 1159 (8th Cir. 1992) (quoting Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989)). “An action is
malicious if it is undertaken for the purpose of harassing
the named defendants and not for the purpose of vindicating a
cognizable right.” Williamson v. Corizon,
Inc., No. 1:15CV220, 2016 WL 5933982 at *1 (E.D. Mo.
October 12, 2016). A complaint fails to state a claim if it
does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); see also
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-84 (2009)
applying § 1915(e)(2), the court must give the pro se
complaint the benefit of a liberal construction.
See, e.g., Federal Express Corp. v.
Holowecki, 552 U.S. 389, 402 (2008); Solomon v.
Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015) (“When
we say that a pro se complaint should be given liberal
construction, we mean that if the essence of an allegation is
discernible . . . then the district court should construe the
complaint in a way that permits the layperson's claim to
be considered within the proper legal framework.”)
(internal quotation marks omitted). This does not mean,
however, that the pro se litigant is excused from satisfying
the plausibility standard established in Twombly and
further amplified by the Supreme Court in Iqbal.
See Story v. Foote, 782 F.3d 968, 969 (8th Cir.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 failure
initial matter, Hansen's Second Amended Complaint does
not comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), which
requires “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1) (emphasis added). The purpose of this
short and plain statement is to provide defendants with
“fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds
upon which it rests.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
Second Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 11) is a 169-page document
containing nearly 50, 000 words and over a thousand
paragraphs, all of which set forth fourteen causes of action
ranging from RICO violations to kidnaping to fraudulent
conversion. The shotgun style of Hansen's complaint does
not provide the defendants with fair notice of the nature of
Hansen's claim. All fourteen of the claims include
language realleging and incorporating the thousand-plus
preceding paragraphs as to all of the defendants, save claims
four, eight, and thirteen exempting certain defendants.
Through this pleading, it is virtually impossible to know
which allegations are intended to support which claims, let
alone how those allegations relate to the individual
defendants included within those claims. Many of the
allegations, the vast majority of which are nothing more than
unsubstantiated legal conclusions, have little to do with the
specifics of a given claim, leaving the court and the
litigants to sift through the thousand-plus paragraphs and
guess which are material to a particular claim. This is not
in keeping with the purposes behind Fed.R.Civ.P. 8.
Hansen fails to state a claim for which relief can be
fundamentally, Hansen's claims are also patently baseless
- if not outright frivolous. At their core, Hansen's
claims allege the defendants committed unlawful acts by: (1)
advocating a position adverse to Hansen in the state court
proceedings; (2) making a decision adverse to Hansen in the
state court proceedings; (3) enforcing a decision adverse to
Hansen stemming from the state court proceedings; and/or (4)
failing to heed Hansen's demands regarding the state
court proceedings. Setting aside the immunity enjoyed by the
vast majority of the defendants,  these are not sufficient
bases for civil liability under any reasonable legal theory.
Although Hansen countless times alleges the defendants acted
in cahoots so as to constitute racketeering and fraud,
alleging these conclusions over and over does not make them
so when there is no factual or legal basis. The same can be
said with the countless other allegations of wrongdoing
contained within Hansen's pleadings.
addition, Hansen lacks standing for the claims in which she
seeks to enforce criminal statutes and ethics codes, as is
the case in claims four, seven, eight, thirteen, and
fourteen. See, e.g., Linda R.S. v.
Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 619 (1973) (“a private
citizen lacks a judicially cognizable interest in the
prosecution or nonprosecution of another”);
Parkhurst v. Tabor, 569 F.3d 861, 865-67 (8th
Cir.2009) (crime victims lack standing to compel a criminal
prosecution); Jones v. Clinton, 206 F.3d 811, 812
(8th Cir. 2000) (a private party lacks standing to prosecute
an action for criminal contempt); Smith v. Shaw, No.
5:09-01001, 2012 WL 1832340, at * ...