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Wall v. United States Department of Agriculture

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 12, 2016

FRANK REGINALD WALL, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STAETS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. Lynn Winmill, United States District Court Chief Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         The federal defendants - the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States Forest Service, the Kootenai National Forest, and David E. Schmid, Christopher S. Savage, and Lynn Hagarty in their official capacities as Forest Service employees - move to dismiss the case, or, in the alternative, to transfer it to the District of Montana. See Dkt. 16. The non-federal defendants - including Klepfer Mining Services, Eric Gregory Klepfer, Mines Management, Inc. (“MMI”), MMI CEO Glenn M. Dobbs, MMI president & secretary Douglas D. Dobbs, MMI Directors & MMI Officers Inclusive, and Montanore Minerals Corporation, Montanore Project in Lincoln & Sanders County, Montana, All Real, Financial, Intellectual Assets held By MMI, MMC and Newhi, Inc., and all Defendants listed in Plaintiff's complaint under superscript “4” - have also moved for dismissal. See Dkt. 8. For the reasons expressed below, the Court will transfer this case to the District of Montana.

         BACKGROUND

         Pro se Plaintiff Frank Wall is seeking to prevent the non-federal defendants from mining certain property located in Montana. He seeks an injunction (1) preventing the Forest Service from issuing a Record of Decision related to the mining project, and (2) freezing the assets of all non-federal defendants “except essential cash-flow to ‘keep the doors open.'” Compl., Dkt. 1, at 5. Wall also seeks damages “in a modest eight-figure USD sum . . . .” as well as “an estoppel against Defendants' attorneys and the Defendants' legal gamesmanship as in the past nine years, . . . .” Id. at 5. Wall does not allege that he owns any of the property at issue, or any related mining claims or patents. See, e.g., Compl., Ex. B., at 135 of 650. Wall also suggests that his dissatisfaction with the Montana proceedings motivated this action. As he puts it,

WALL alleges being unfairly and maliciously treated in the Montana State District Court and in the Missoula Federal District Court. This litigation gives a “clean sheet” approach with “the rest of the story” and obviates any lawyer gamesmanship, delays and confusion caused by the Non- Federal Defendants . . . .

Pl.'s Apr. 18, 2016 “Final Answer to Non-Federal Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, Dkt. 27, at 3.

         It is difficult to precisely or completely identify Wall's legal theories, but in broad strokes, he is contending that defendants have violated his “civil and Constitutional rights, ” including his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. See Id. at 3, 13, 14-15.

         Both sets of defendants move to dismiss Wall's complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The non-federal defendants also challenged this Court's subject-matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1). The federal defendants have also moved, in the alternative, for an order transferring this case to the District of Montana and consolidating it with a case currently pending in that court.

         ANALYSIS

         1. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject-Matter Jurisdiction

         The non-federal defendants contend that this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over Wall's claim based on the fact that the criminal statutes Wall relies upon - 18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242, and 245 - do not create private rights of action. See Non-Federal Defendants' Motion Memo, Dkt. 8-1 at 11 (“It is well settled that no private right of action is created by any of these statutes.”). This may be so, but the Court nevertheless has jurisdiction to adjudicate Wall's claims. In other words, defendants are raising a defect regarding the merits of Wall's claims - not a jurisdictional defect. Cf. Vaughn v. Bay Environmental Mgmt., Inc., 567 F.3d 1021, 2014 (9th Cir. 2009) (discussing an ERISA claim, the court held that a “dismissal for lack of statutory standing is properly viewed as a dismissal for failure to state a claim rather than a dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”)

         2. Motion to Change Venue

         Having decided subject matter jurisdiction, the Court will resolve the government's request that this case be transferred to the District of Montana. This request is made ...


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