United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
WILLIAM F. HOLDNER dba HOLDNER FARMS, Plaintiff,
KATY COBA, in her individual capacity; ALEXIS TAYLOR, DIRECTOR OF OREGON DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, in her official capacity; DICK PEDERSON, in his individual capacity; and RICHARD WHITMAN, DIRECTOR OF THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY, in his official capacity, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
V. ACOSTA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
William Holdner (“Holdner”), appearing pro
se, filed a civil rights action against Katy Coba,
Director of Oregon's Department of Agriculture, and Dick
Peterson, Director of Oregon's Department of
Environmental Quality (collectively
“Defendants”), challenging their authority to
regulate livestock operations on his land. The court granted
Defendants' motion to dismiss finding Holdner lacked
standing; the claims are barred by claim preclusion, issue
preclusion; and Eleventh Amendment immunity; and Defendants
are entitled to qualified immunity, and dismissed the
complaint with prejudice. Holder appealed and the Ninth
Circuit affirmed the court's dismissal of the complaint
but remanded with directions to dismiss the action without
March 27, 2018, Holdner filed a First Amended Complaint (the
“Amended Complaint”) in which he asserts the same
claims but incorporates additional factual allegations.
Defendants move to dismiss the Amended Complaint asserting it
does not remedy the defects found in the original complaint.
The court finds the Amended Complaint fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted and Defendants are entitled,
once again, to the dismissal of this action. Consequently,
Defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.
the third action initiated in this court by Holdner asserting
claims based on Oregon's enforcement of water quality
standards against his livestock operation. In 2006, the
Oregon Department of Agriculture (the
“Department”) became concerned Holdner was
discharging animal waste from his property in a manner likely
to send it into a nearby creek. Holdner v. Coba,
Civ. No. 09-979-AC, 2011 WL 2633165, at *3 (D. Or. July 5,
2011)(“Holdner I”). As a result, the
Department issued a civil citation for pollution violations
against Holdner on three separate occasions - March 9, 2007,
February 10, 2009, and June 15, 2009. Id.
Additionally, in 2010, the Oregon Department of Justice
indicted Holdner on three felony and twenty-five misdemeanor
counts of water pollution. Id. at *3. Holdner
requested administrative review of the civil citations,
arguing his ranch was exempt from state and federal
regulation, and moved to dismiss the criminal charges on the
ground the Department exceeded its authority in enforcing the
federal statute. Id. at *3; see also Holdner v.
Kroger, No. 3:12-cv-01159-PK, 2012 WL 6131637, at *2 (D.
Or. Nov. 6, 2012)(“Holdner II”). The
administrative hearing resulted in final orders in the
agency's favor and the court denied Holdner's motion
in the criminal proceedings. Holdner I, 2011 WL
2633165, at *3; Holdner II, 2012 WL 6131637, at *3.
August 20, 2009, Holdner filed an action against the
Department complaining about the issuance of the civil
citations. Holdner I, 2011 WL 2633165, at *1.
Holdner again asserted the Department exceeded its authority
under federal statues and sought to enjoin it from taking
further enforcement actions against him. Id. at *4.
After directing Holdner to amend his complaint twice, the
court determined Holdner was alleging a claim under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 (“Section 1983”) for violation of his
rights to procedural due process. Id. It then
granted summary judgment to the Department on the Section
1983 claim, finding Holdner failed to allege a violation of a
fundamental right or offer evidence of the Department's
involvement in the conduct comprising such
violation.Id. at *7-*8.
filed a second action on June 28, 2012, once again alleging
various Oregon agencies lacked authority to regulate water
quality and asserting a single claim for declaratory relief
under a slightly different theory than alleged in Holdner
I. Holdner II, 2012 WL 6131637, at *2.
Specifically, Holdner alleged the United States Environmental
Protection Agency never granted authority to the State of
Oregon to administer the National Pollution Discharge
Elimination System and, absent such authority, Oregon's
regulatory and permitting scheme governing animal feeding
operations was ultra vires. Id. at *3.
Judge Papak denied the defendants' motion to dismiss on
the grounds of mootness and the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine, but granted the motion finding Holdner's claims
barred by the Younger abstention doctrine and claim
preclusion. Id. at *3-*7.
Papak set forth the elements of the claim preclusion doctrine
- identity of claims, final judgment on the merits, and
identity or privity between the parties - and described the
doctrine as “[barring] litigation of any claims that
were raised or could have been raised in the prior
action” where these elements are present. Id.
at *7. He then reasoned:
Looking for the moment only at Holdner's prior state
administrative and criminal proceedings, it is clear that
Holdner could easily have raised his current theory that the
ODA lacks authority to enforce the Clean Water Act in either
of those proceedings, but only now attempts to pursue further
litigation on that “theory of relief.” Similarly,
Holdner could have raised his ultra vires theory in
the prior federal case, in which he contended that the ODA
exceeded its regulatory authority for other reasons.
Moreover, there is no doubt that Holdner's prior
proceedings were litigated to final judgment on the merits.
Finally, the current defendants in this action are surely in
privity with the State of Oregon, a party to Holdner's
criminal proceeding, since they are all departments or agents
of the state.
Holdner's single argument against the application of
claim preclusion is that the legal theory central to his case
- that Oregon's entire water pollution control scheme is
ultra vires - was not previously litigated in any
other proceeding. But Holdner misunderstands the nature of
federal and Oregon claim preclusion doctrines, both of which
recognize preclusion where a claim or theory could have
been raised in an earlier proceeding, but nevertheless
was not. Consequently, even though Holdner has now discovered
a new legal theory explaining why he was not subject to the
Oregon NPDES permitting requirement for CAFO's, he is
precluded from advancing it here because he could have raised
it in any number of earlier proceedings.
Id. at *7 (internal quotations omitted).
filed the instant action, the third in this court, on October
29, 2015, once again complaining about Defendants'
regulation of the livestock operations on Holdner's
property. (Compl. ECF No. 1.) The court interpreted the
complaint filed on October 29, 2015 (the
“Complaint”) to allege three claims: 1)
deprivation of Holdner's constitutional due process
rights under Section 1983; 2) Defendants acted outside their
enforcement authority under the Clean Water Act; and 3)
Holdner's land patent bars the state from regulating
water quality on his land. Holdner v. Coba, Civ. No.
3:15-cv-2039-AC, 2016 WL 3102053 (D. Or. June 1, 2016)
(“Holdner III”). However, the court later
noted “the allegations of the Complaint universally
support a single claim under Section 1983.” Holdner
v. Coba, Case No. 3:15-cv-2039-AC, 2016 WL 6662687, at
*5 (D. Or. Nov. 9, 2016).
court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss on several
grounds. First, the court found Holdner lacked standing based
on the absence of a injury-in-fact. Holdner III,
2016 WL 3102053, at *3. The court reasoned “[b]ecause
plaintiff cannot legally possess livestock until December 8,
2019, he has no legally protected interest in livestock as
required for standing to bring his claims, and can show ...