United States District Court, D. Oregon, Pendleton Division
OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL W. MOSMAN CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
July 19, 2018, Status Conference, Magistrate Judge Patricia
Sullivan granted Shawna Cox's Motion to Withdraw by
dismissing Ms. Cox and Mr. Bundy “to the extent that
they are parties in this case” and denied Ryan Payne
and Victoria Sharp's Motion for Leave to File an Amended
Complaint in this case. . Judge Sullivan granted Mr.
Payne and Ms. Sharp until August 20, 2018, to file objections
to her ruling and allowed Defendants until September 4, 2018
to file a response. [Id.]. Mr. Payne and Ms. Sharp
filed objections to the denial of their proposed Amended
Complaint. Defendants Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Harney
County Sheriff's Office, Harney County, David M. Ward,
Steven Grasty, Greg Bretzing, and the United States responded
to the objections. Ms. Sharp and Mr. Payne replied to
magistrate judge makes only recommendations to the court, to
which any party may file written objections. The court is not
bound by the recommendations of the magistrate judge, but
retains responsibility for making the final determination.
When a magistrate judge has acted on a dispositive matter,
the court is generally required to make a de novo
determination regarding those portions of the report or
specified findings or recommendations as to which an
objection is made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). If the magistrate judge has ruled on a
non-dispositive matter, her decision is modified only if
clearly erroneous or contrary to law. The court is not
required, however, to review, de novo or under any other
standard, the factual or legal conclusions of the magistrate
judge as to those portions of the F&R to which no
objections are addressed. See Thomas v. Arn, 474
U.S. 140, 149 (1985); United States v. Reyna-Tapia,
328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003). While the level of
scrutiny with which I am required to review the magistrate
judge's decision depends on whether the matter is
dispositive and whether objections have been filed, in either
case, I am free to accept, reject, or modify any part of the
magistrate judge's recommendation. 28 U.S.C. §
careful consideration, I agree with Judge Sullivan's
ruling dismissing Ms. Cox and Mr. Bundy from this lawsuit and
denying Sharp and Payne's Motion for Leave to File an
Amended Complaint and ADOPT it as my own. I write briefly to
explain why I adopt Judge Sullivan's ruling denying the
proposed amended complaint and to discuss the effect of the
dismissal of Ms. Cox.
January 26, 2018, Ms. Cox filed this case, which alleges
injuries stemming from events that occurred on January 26,
2016, pro se on behalf of herself and Ryan Payne,
Victoria Sharp, and “Ryan-C: Family of Bundy.”
. Ms. Cox filed the Complaint the day before the two-year
statute of limitations ran. The Complaint's caption lists
Ms. Cox, Mr. Payne, Ms. Sharp, and “Ryan-C: Family of
Bundy” as plaintiffs and references Ms. Cox, Mr. Payne,
Ms.Sharp, and Ryan C. Bundy in the allegations. [1 at pp.
*16-18]. Its “signature” consists of affidavits
included at the end of the Complaint from Ms. Cox, Mr. Payne,
and Ryan Bundy. [Id.]. Mr. Payne's signature
affidavit, however, is from a different document-a Harney
County Summons and Complaint. [Id. at p. *18]. There
is no signature from Ms. Sharp. [Id.]
February 12, 2018, approximately two weeks after filing her
Complaint, Ms. Cox filed a Motion to Withdraw Complaint,
which stated that “Plaintiffs Shawna Cox, Victoria
Sharp, and ryan-c:family of Bundy, withdraw from this
complaint as there appears to be no justice in Federal
Courts.” [9 at p. 1]. On February 16, 2018, Ms. Sharp
and Mr. Payne, through their attorney, filed a first amended
complaint. . I construed the amended complaint as a
Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint and referred it
to Judge Sullivan. .
Sullivan discussed the Motion for Leave to File an Amended
Complaint and Ms. Cox's Motion to Withdraw during a July
19, 2018, status conference. [53 (Tr. of July 19, 2018,
Status Conference)]. She identified numerous Rule 11 defects
in the pro se Complaint Ms. Cox filed and then
withdrew. [Id.]. Judge Sullivan noted that Ms.
Sharp's signature was not included in any of the
documents filed with Ms. Cox's pro se Complaint.
[Id. at p. 12:11-13]. She further noted that Mr.
Payne did not sign the Complaint; instead his
“purported signature comes on a Summons and Complaint
in Harney County, and does not refer at all to the complaint
filed in the United States District Court. [Id.at
Sullivan concluded that a pro se complainant like
Ms. Cox cannot file actions on behalf of anyone but herself.
[Id. at p. 17:12-19]. When Mr. Payne and Ms.
Sharp's counsel asserted that the effect of him entering
his appearance made this case “different than a lot of
the pro se cases where a pro se litigant
attaches other plaintiffs and seeks to represent other
plaintiffs, ” Judge Sullivan disagreed, finding
“the legal effect of a pro se plaintiff filing
on behalf of other people is the same.” Id. at
p. 18:23-25, 19:1-7].
Judge Sullivan denied Ms. Sharp and Mr. Payne's Motion
for Leave to File an Amended Complaint and granted Ms.
Cox's Motion to Withdraw as to Ms. Cox and Mr. Bundy.
Sullivan correctly found that a pro se litigant has
no authority to represent anyone other than herself. C.E.
Pope Equity Trust v. United States, 818 F.2d 696, 697
(9th Cir. 1987) (a pro se litigant has “no
authority to appear as an attorney for others than
himself.”). She also correctly stated that Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 11(a) requires Mr. Payne and Ms. Sharp to
personally sign the Complaint filed by Ms. Cox if they were
parties to it. Here, there is no signature or affidavit from
Ms. Sharp attached to the January 26, 2018, Complaint and the
signature from Mr. Payne is obviously one that he made on a
document completely unrelated to this case. [1 at pp.
*16-18]. Accordingly, based on the January 26, 2018,
Complaint, Mr. Payne and Ms. Sharp cannot be considered
plaintiffs in this case. Because they are not plaintiffs,
they cannot file an amended complaint in this action.
Payne and Ms. Sharp's argument in their objections that
the appearance of their counsel and their subsequent filing
of an amended complaint cured any defects or irregularities
in the January 26, 2018, Complaint fails. Although they
correctly state that the Federal Rules allow an unrepresented
party to correct his or her failure to sign a complaint, they
are incorrect that the correction may be made by appearance
of counsel for the formerly unrepresented parties or by
filing an amendment to a complaint the unrepresented party
did not sign. Accordingly, Judge Sullivan correctly denied
Mr. Payne and Ms. Sharp's proposed amendment to the
January 26, 2018, Complaint.
Sullivan also correctly dismissed Ms. Cox from this action.
The effect of Ms. Cox's dismissal is that the January 26,
2018, Complaint is now an unsigned pleading that violates the