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Newsome v. Thompson

United States District Court, D. Oregon

April 13, 2018



          Michael H. Simon United States District Judge.

         United States Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta issued Findings and Recommendation in this case on March 21, 2018. ECF 43. Judge Acosta recommended that Defendant's motion to dismiss be granted.

         Under the Federal Magistrates Act (“Act”), the Court may “accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). If a party files objections to a magistrate's findings and recommendations, “the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” Id.; Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).

         For those portions of a magistrate's findings and recommendations to which neither party has objected, the Act does not prescribe any standard of review. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 152 (1985) (“There is no indication that Congress, in enacting [the Act], intended to require a district judge to review a magistrate's report to which no objections are filed.”); United States. v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc) (holding that the court must review de novo magistrate's findings and recommendations if objection is made, “but not otherwise”). Although in the absence of objections no review is required, the Act “does not preclude further review by the district judge[] sua sponte . . . under a de novo or any other standard.” Thomas, 474 U.S. at 154. Indeed, the Advisory Committee Notes to Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b) recommend that “[w]hen no timely objection is filed, ” the Court review the magistrate's recommendations for “clear error on the face of the record.” Plaintiff timely filed an objection (ECF 45), to which Defendant responded (ECF 46). Plaintiff objects to Judge Acosta's findings on Plaintiff's procedural due process claims. Specifically, Plaintiff disagrees with Judge Acosta's conclusions that: (1) Defendant was not required to give Plaintiff notice of Plaintiff's appeal right; (2) Defendant is entitled to qualified immunity on his failure to provide notice of Plaintiff's appeal rights; and (3) Defendant is entitled to quasi-judicial immunity for his failure to provide notice of Plaintiff's appeal right. Plaintiff also objects to Judge Acosta's finding that the Eleventh Amendment bars Plaintiff's claims against Defendant in his official capacity.

         A. Mootness

         Defendant argues that this case is moot and therefore nonjusticiable, because Plaintiff's allegation of abuse was later determined to be “Not Substantiated, ” and Plaintiff admits that he is now satisfied with the outcome of the charges against him. Judge Acosta did not reach the issue of mootness, and neither party objected. Nonetheless, the Court has an independent duty to ensure that there exists a case or controversy. See Arizonans for Official English v. Arizona, 520 U.S. 43, 67 (1997) (“To qualify as a case fit for federal-court adjudication, an actual controversy must be extant at all stages of review, not merely at the time the complaint is filed.”) (quotation marks omitted).

         Although the State has since changed the character of the abuse allegations against Plaintiff to be “Not Substantiated, ” Plaintiff alleges that he was injured during the time that his record reflected a “Substantiated” finding of abuse. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's actions caused Plaintiff to lose three weeks of wages and to endure pain, suffering, and humiliation. ECF 30 at 7, ¶ 17. As such, the Court concludes that there still exists a case or controversy between the parties, and Plaintiff's claims are not moot.

         B. Official Capacity Claims

         Plaintiff concedes that under Ninth Circuit precedent the Eleventh Amendment bars claims against Thompson in his official capacity. Plaintiff objects only to preserve his right to appeal. The Court adopts this portion of Judge Acosta's Findings and Recommendation.

         C. Respondeat Superior Liability

         Neither party has objected to Judge Acosta's findings with respect to Defendant's argument that Plaintiff's claims against Defendant should be dismissed because there is no respondeat superior liability under § 1983. The Court follows the recommendation of the Advisory Committee and reviews that matter for clear error on the face of the record. No. such error is apparent. Thus, the Court adopts the portion of Judge Acosta's Findings and Recommendation addressing the applicability of respondeat superior.

         D. Qualified Immunity

         Defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claims on the ground that Defendant was entitled to qualified immunity and quasi-judicial immunity. Because the Court agrees with Judge Acosta's finding that no constitutional violation occurred, the Court concludes that Defendant is entitled to qualified immunity.

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