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Coultas v. Tichenor

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

April 23, 2019

LYLE MARK COULTAS, Plaintiff,
v.
CARROLL J. TICHENOR, Individually and in his Official Capacity as a Yamhill County Prosecutor; YAMHILL COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE; STEVEN PAYNE, Individually and in his Official Capacity as an Oregon State Police Crime Laboratory Detective; OREGON STATE POLICE, Defendants.

          Lyle Mark Coultas, Pro Se Plaintiff

          Andrew Hallman Assistant Attorney General Department of Justice, Attorney for Defendants

          OPINION & ORDER

          MARCO A. HERNÁNDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the reasons set forth below, the Court dismisses Plaintiff's Complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges he was falsely accused of child molestation in 2001. During trial on those charges, the police and prosecutor committed fraud upon the trial court and violated his right to due process. He asks this Court to vacate his criminal convictions and award him various fees, expenses, compensatory damages, and punitive damages totaling $100, 000, 000.

         STANDARDS

         Dismissal is appropriate if a plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Plaintiff's complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim, however, unless it appears beyond doubt that Plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Terracom v. Valley Nat'l Bank, 49 F.3d 555, 558 (9th Cir. 1995).

         Dismissal for failure to state a claim is a ruling on a question of law. Parks School of Business, Inc. v. Symington, 51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir. 1995). Review is limited to the contents of the complaint and its exhibits, id., as well as matters properly subject to judicial notice. Swartz v. KPMG LLP, 476 F.3d 756, 763 (9th Cir. 2007). Allegations of fact in the complaint must be taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to plaintiff. Parks School of Business, Inc., 51 F.3d at 1484

         From the facts alleged, the court also must draw all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor. Usher v. City of Los Angeles, 828 F.2d 556, 561 (9th Cir. 1987).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Res Judicata

         On May 8, 2018, Judge Mosman issued an order dismissing Plaintiff's complaint in the case of Coultas v. Tichenor et al., 3:18-cv-596-MO. Coultas v. Tichenor, 2018 WL 2287023 (D. Or. May 8, 2018). Judge Mosman concluded that Plaintiff's complaint was barred by the doctrine of res judicata. Specifically, he found that Plaintiff had litigated the same claims, against the same defendants, twice before: in Coultas v. Payne, et al., No. 3:11-cv-00045-AC and Coultas v. Payne, et al., No. 3:12-cv-01132-AC. In the first case, Judge Acosta ultimately dismissed the claims against the same defendants based on Eleventh Amendment immunity, failure to state a claim, and the statute of limitations. Coultas v. Payne et al., No. 3:11-cv-00045-AC, ECF Nos. 44, 100, 137. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision on April 9, 2018. Coultas v. Payne, 699 Fed.Appx. 749 (9th Cir. 2017) (Mem). In the second case, Judge Acosta determined, in part, that claim preclusion barred the relitigation of these issues and dismissed the case with prejudice. Findings and Recommendation, Coultas v. Payne, et al., No. 3:12-cv-01132-AC, ECF 55.

         Plaintiff has now filed a new complaint before this Court. The complaint names the same defendants and recites the same facts and allegations as the case previously before Judge Mosman. Indeed, the complaint reads almost verbatim. Thus, Defendants moved to dismiss to the complaint based on Judge Mosman's order and the doctrine of res judicata. In response, Plaintiff argues-as he did before Judge Mosman-that the case has never been heard and decided on the merits. He also argues that the new complaint identifies new harms that could not have been raised in prior litigation. Specifically, he notes that (1) ORS § ...


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