United States District Court, D. Idaho
RONALD VAN HOOK; GABRIEL VAN HOOK; and NATHAN VAN HOOK Plaintiffs,
STATE OF IDAHO; IDAHO STATE BAR; STEVEN FISHER; FISHER LAW FIRM; MARY GRANT; KIMBERLI STRETCH; IDAHO LEGAL AID; VIRGINIA BOND; BOND LAW CHARTERED; CHRISTOPHER D. BOYD; ADAMS COUNTY, IDAHO; JOHN DOES 1-100; and UNKNOWN AGENTS of the IDAHO THIRD JUDICIAL DISTRICT, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
LYNN WINMILL U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
before the Court are six motions: Virginia Bond’s and
Bond Law Chartered’s Motion to Quash (Dkt 3); Adams
County Idaho and Christopher D. Boyd’s Motion to
Dismiss or Motion to Quash (Dkt. 6); Mary Grant’s,
Kimberli Stretch’s and Idaho Legal Aid Services
Inc.’s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 9); Virginia
Bond’s and Bond Law Chartered’s Motion to Dismiss
(Dkt. 12); Adams County’s and Christopher D.
Boyd’s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 14); and Steven Fisher
and Fisher Law Firm’s Motion to Dismiss. (Dkt. 22.)
These motions are decided without a hearing because the facts
and legal arguments are adequately presented in the moving
and opposing papers, and the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument. For the following
reasons the Court will grant the motions to dismiss, and will
find the motions to quash moot.
case is about the actions of a collection of individuals who,
in some way, interacted with Ronald Van Hook during his
divorce and child custody proceedings.
August 2014, Ronald Van Hook filed a pro se
complaint in Canyon County for custody visitation rights for
his three children and to seek a decree of legal separation
from his wife, Dawn Van Hook (Dawn Renee Cannon). Dkt. 22-2
at 9; Canyon County Case No. CV-2014-7409-C. In September
2014, Van Hook retained attorney Steven Fisher to represent
him in the case. Id. Fisher filed a motion for entry
of default, which was granted-resulting in a custody
visitation award for Van Hook. Id. However, in
October 2014, Cannon, through her attorney, Mary Grant of
Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc., moved to set aside the order
of default, asserting she had never been served with notice
of the action. Id. Meanwhile, Cannon filed an action
for child protection in Adams County. Id.; Adams County
Case No. cv-2014-3311. That filing resulted in the issuance
of a civil protection order for Cannon. Id. at 10.
November 2014, the entry of default judgment in Van
Hook’s Canyon County case was set aside and the judge
in the case set the matter for trial in August 2015.
Id. However, in March 2015, Fisher filed a motion
for leave to withdraw as counsel due to Van Hook’s
failure to pay his legal bills or follow the attorney’s
advice. Id. at 12. The motion was granted.
Id. Also in March 2015, Cannon filed for and
received a temporary ex parte restraining order to
prevent Van Hook from having any contact with one of his
three children. Id. Then, in April 2015, Cannon
filed a motion to consolidate the Canyon County case with the
case she filed in Adams County. Id. Van Hook filed a
notice of non-objection and the cases were consolidated in
May 2015. Id. at 13.
August 2015, the state court judge conducted a bench trial,
which resulted in an order awarding Cannon sole legal custody
of the three children. Id. at 14. The award was
finalized on September 9, 2015, when the court filed a
written judgment and decree of divorce. Id. A few
weeks later, attorney Virginia Bond appeared on behalf of Van
Hook, and filed motions for a new trial and for
reconsideration. Id. at 15. The motions were
eventually withdrawn by Van Hook. Id. In March 2016,
attorney Bond filed a motion to withdraw because Van Hook did
not trust her and also believed she was acting to somehow
protect the judge presiding over the case. Id.
Bond’s motion to withdraw was granted.
Hook continued to represent himself in the matter, filing a
motion for an order of recusal of the judge, which asserted
the judge had improper discussions with Cannon and her
counsel. Id. After a hearing, the motion was denied.
Id. at 16. However, Van Hook continued to file
motions in the case, including motions arguing Cannon should
be held in criminal contempt, motions for a change in venue,
and motions for new orders regarding the child custody
addition to the consolidated Adams County case, Van Hook
filed at least seven (7) similar complaints in Canyon and
Owyhee counties. Id. at 18-19. Notably, in a civil
case filed in 2016, Van Hook sought damages related to the
actions of attorneys and judges involved in his divorce and
child custody proceedings. In that case, he claimed his
lawyers and the lawyer for his ex-wife conspired to deprive
him of the custody of his children and his civil rights. The
defendants listed in Van Hook’s state court complaint
were Kimberli Stretch of Idaho Legal Aid, Mary Grant formerly
of Idaho Legal Aid, Virginia Bond, and Steven Fisher. Dkt.
9-2 at 49.
result of such activities in the courts of Idaho, Van Hook
was deemed a “vexatious litigant” pursuant to
Idaho Court Administrative Rule 59. Dkt. 22-2 at 16;
see I.C.A.R. 59. Of particular interest, the order
found that Van Hook’s repeated attempts to
“re-litigate” the September 9, 2015 judgment
qualified him as a vexatious litigant. Id. at 27.
The reviewing court’s September 2017 order required
that Van Hook obtain leave of court prior to any pro
se filing of new litigation in the state of Idaho.
Id. at 31.
background brings us to the present complaint-filed pro
se by Van Hook in May 2019. Dkt. 1. Van Hook’s
Complaint is filed on behalf of himself and his minor sons,
Gabriel Van Hook and Nathan Van Hook. Id. It names
as Defendants the State of Idaho, the Idaho Bar Association,
Steven Fisher and the Fisher Law Firm, Mary Grant, Kimberli
Stretch, Idaho Legal Aid, Virginia Bond, Bond Law Chartered,
Christopher D. Boyd and/or Adams County, Idaho, Does, and
“Unknown Agents” of Idaho’s Third Judicial
Van Hook alleges that Defendants violated and conspired to
violate the civil rights of himself and his children, that
certain Defendants engaged in fraudulent activities in
violation of federal anti-racketeering laws, and that the
Idaho State Bar is an unlawful monopoly. Id. He
alleges also that the Idaho State Bar unlawfully failed to
take action on complaints lodged by Van Hook against attorney
Defendants and various judicial officers. Id.
support his Complaint, as exhibits to an unsigned
declaration, Van Hook attached the complaint in the civil
case he filed in 2016, in which he likewise sought damages
related to the actions of individuals involved in his divorce
and child custody proceedings. Van Hook asserts that all
facts and arguments contained in the state court pleading,
are facts and arguments he intends to make in this case.
of various answers and motions, Defendants seek dismissal of
each of Van Hook’s claims. Defendants assert that many
of the claims are barred by the doctrines of res
judicata and collateral estoppel due to the 2016 state
court action. Defendants assert also that Van Hook’s
claims should be dismissed for implausibility and
inadequacies in pleading under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). The Court will analyze these arguments
Van Hook can not appear pro se on behalf of his
initial matter the Court notes Ronald Van Hook’s
Complaint alleges all claims on behalf of his minor children.
A pro se litigant can not file litigation on behalf
of third parties, including minor children, unless the
pro se litigant is licensed to practice law.
Johns v. Cty. of San Diego, 114 F.3d 874, 877 (9th
Cir. 1997); Smogonovich v. City of Boise, No.
CV09-011-S-EJL, 2009 WL 3229371, at *2 (D. Idaho Oct. 2,
2009) (“a non-lawyer, may represent his own interests
but may not represent those of his children.”). As
such, the Court will dismiss the minor children from this
action and will consider the legal and factual sufficiency of
the claims as to Ronald Van Hook only.
Res Judicata and collateral estoppel apply to bar
certain claims against seven of the defendants.
judicata and collateral estoppel are affirmative
defenses used in federal court to give preclusive effect to
prior state court judgments. See 28 U.S.C. §
1738 (federal courts must afford full faith and credit to
state judicial proceedings). Federal courts apply state rules
governing preclusion to determine whether a state judgment
should have preclusive effect in a federal action. See
Migra v. Warren City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., 465 U.S.
75 at 83-85, 104 (1984)
doctrine of res judicata, or claim preclusion,
applies “when there is (1) an identity of claims; (2) a
final judgment on the merits; and (3) identity or privity
between the parties.” Owens v. Kaiser Found. Health
Plan, Inc., 244 F.3d 708, 713 (9th Cir. 2001). Idaho law
provides that the party asserting res judicata as an
affirmative defense bears the burden of establishing all of
the essential elements by a preponderance of the evidence.
Foster v. City of St. Anthony, 841 P.2d 413, 419
other hand, a party seeking to apply collateral estoppel, or
issue preclusion, must show: (1) the party against whom an
earlier decision was asserted had a full and fair opportunity
to litigate the issue decided in the earlier case; (2) the
issue decided in the prior litigation was identical to the
issue presented in the present action; (3) the issue sought
to be precluded was actually decided in the prior litigation;
(4) there was a final judgment on the merits in the prior
litigation; and (5) the party against whom the issue is
asserted was a party or in privity with a party to the
litigation. Ticor Title Co. v. Stanion, 157 P.3d
613, 618 (Idaho 2007).
matter, Defendants Grant, Stretch, Idaho Legal Aid services,
Inc., Virginia Bond, Bond Law Chartered, Steven Fisher and
Fisher Law Offices, PLLC, each assert many of the claims Van
Hook alleges against them are barred by res
judicata, collateral estoppel, or both.
Defendants’ arguments are based on the fact that, in
the 2016 state court complaint, Van Hook alleged the same
complaints against them.
forth above, the state court complaint listed as defendants
Kimberli Stretch of Idaho Legal Aid, Mary Grant formerly of
Idaho Legal Aid, Steven Fisher, and Virginia Bond. Dkt. 9-2
at 49. The statement of claims alleged against the defendants
included that they: (1) made false allegations and statements
about or concerning Van Hook; (2) were grossly and
contributorily negligent; (3) breached contractual duties
owed to Van Hook; (3) failed to comply with the Idaho Rules
of Professional ...