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Goodwin v. Bruggeman Hatch

United States District Court, D. Colorado

January 12, 2018

JON A. GOODWIN, Plaintiff,
v.
MARCIA ANN BRUGGEMAN HATCH, SEAMUS JOHN PAUL HATCH, MICHAEL DOUGLAS BOCK, GUNDERSON DETTMER STOUGH VILLENEUVE FRANKLIN & HACHIGIAN, LLP, ROBERT V. GUNDERSON, JR., SCOTT CHARLES DETTMER, THOMAS F. VILLENEUVE, DANIEL JURG NIEHANS, DANIEL E. O'CONNOR, KENNETH ROBERT McVAY, IVAN ALEXANDER GAVIRIA, DANIEL E. O'CONNOR, KENNETH ROBERT McVAY, JOHNSON & JOHNSON LLP, NEVILLE LAWRENCE JOHNSON DOUGLAS LOWELL JOHNSON, JONATHAN MARTIN TURCO, LAN PHONG VU, DIANA BIAFORA SPARAGNA, TINA LOUISE SCATUORCHIO-GOODWIN, BARRY STEVEN LEVIN, MATHEW LLOYD LARRABEE, ROBERT A. ESPEN, DAVID MARK JARGIELLO, RAMSEY & EHRLICH LLP, MILES FREDRICK EHRLICH, ISMAIL JOMO RAMSEY FOLGER LEVIN KAHN, LLP, MICHAEL ALEXNDER KAHN, JOHN DANIEL SHARP, DENELLE MARIE DIXON-THAYER, LEWIS ROCA ROTHGERBER CHRISTIE, LLP, FREDRICK JAMES BAUMANN, ALEX C. MYERS, HELLER EHRMAN (CALIFORNIA), VLG INVESTMENTS LLC, VLG INVESTMENTS 2006 LLC, VLG INVESTMENTS 2007 LLC, VLG INVESTMENTS 2008, LLC, HEWM INVESTORS, LLC, HEWM INVESTORS II, LLC, HEWM/VLG INVESTMENTS, LLC, DOES 1 - 100, Defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING THE DECEMBER 11, 2017 RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court upon the December 11, 2017, Recommendation by United States Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix that various claims be dismissed. (Doc. # 93.) Plaintiff timely objected to the portions of the Recommendation that recommended dismissal of certain claims. (Doc. # 94.) For the reasons described herein, Plaintiff's Objection is overruled. The Court affirms and adopts the Recommendation.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This suit is the second lawsuit Plaintiff has filed in the Court as to the disbanding of his “merchant banking firm, ” Barra Partners LLP (“Barra Partners”), in 2003.

         A. THE 2013 CASE

         In late 2013, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit in this Court, Goodwin v. Bruggeman-Hatch, 13-cv-02973-REB-MEH (the “2013 Case”), alleging 22 claims against 65 named defendants and 1, 000 named defendants. (2013 Case, Doc. # 1.) The 2013 Case arose out of Plaintiff's belief that the defendants conspired to steal money and business opportunities from him and Barra Partners and to breakup Barra Partners. (Id.) Eventually, all claims in the 2013 Case were dismissed. (2013 Case, Doc. # 388). The Tenth Circuit subsequently dismissed Plaintiff's appeal for failure to prosecute. (2013 Case, Doc. # 404.)

         B. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff filed the instant action on March 31, 2016, approximately 16 months after the Tenth Circuit denied Plaintiff's appeal of the 2013 Case. See (Doc. # 1.) In his 404-page Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges a criminal enterprise and conspiracy against him and asserts claims for, among other things, racketeering, breaches of fiduciary duties, breaches of contract, and fraud. (Doc. # 83.) Thirty Defendants in this action were also defendants in the 2013 Case, see (2013 Case, Doc. # 1); this action also has eleven new named Defendants and one hundred Doe Defendants as compared to the 2013 Case, see (Doc. # 83). As Magistrate Judge Mix detailed, Plaintiff's claims implicate three prior state court judgments involving the parties:

The first state court judgment is a 2007 order from the California Superior Court in San Francisco County (the “San Francisco court”) granting an injunction against Plaintiff prohibiting him from publishing defamatory statements online. The second state court judgment is a 2011 order from the California Superior Court in Los Angeles County (the “Los Angeles court”) granting an injunction against Plaintiff relating to defamatory statements and barring him from re-publishing any of them on the internet or on any other medium. The third state court judgment is an order from the Denver District court, later affirmed by the Colorado Court of Appeals, which domesticated the permanent injunction from the Los Angeles court.

(Doc. # 93 at 3) (internal citations omitted.)

         Several Defendants (“Moving Defendants”) filed a Motion for Order to Show Cause on September 19, 2016.[1] (Doc. # 84.) Describing Plaintiff's claims as “chiefly the same” as those in the 2013 Case, Moving Defendants argued that Plaintiff's claims are barred by claim preclusion, issue preclusion, and the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. (Id. at 3-4.) Moving Defendants also asked the Court to impose filing limitations on Plaintiff, asserting that “this action makes clear that [Plaintiff] habitually ignores the preclusive effect of adverse judgments.” (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff responded in opposition to Moving Defendants' Motion for Order to Show Cause on October 19, 2016. (Doc. # 88.) Plaintiff argued that there are material distinctions between his claims in this action and those he asserted in the 2013 Case. (Id. at 15.)

         Magistrate Judge Mix issued the Order to Show Cause on November 4, 2016. (Doc. # 90.) Her order required Plaintiff to show cause in writing “(1) why this case is not barred by claim preclusion, issue preclusion, and/or the Rooker Feldman doctrine and therefore legally frivolous, and (2) why [the Court] should not enjoin [Plaintiff] from filing any future pro se actions in this Court.” (Id. at 5-6.) On November 30, 2016, Plaintiff responded to the Order to Show Cause, arguing Moving Defendants' “defenses of claim and issue preclusion and the Rooker-Feldman doctrine . . . are without evidence and merit.” (Doc. # 92 at 25.)

         C. THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S RECOMMENDATION

         Magistrate Judge Mix issued her Recommendation on December 11, 2017. (Doc. # 93.) Magistrate Judge Mix first applied the Rooker-Feldman doctrine to Plaintiff's claims and then considered whether claim preclusion and issue preclusion barred any of Plaintiff's claims. (Id. at 4-33.) She recommended that certain claims be dismissed with prejudice and others dismissed without prejudice. (Id. at 33-34.) Under her Recommendation, fifteen claims against certain Defendants would remain. (Id. at 34.) Plaintiff timely objected to the Recommendation on December 26, 2017. (Doc. # 94.) Moving Defendants responded to Plaintiff's Objection on January 9, 2018. (Doc. # 96.)

         II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         A. REVIEW OF A RECOMMENDATION

         When a magistrate judge issues a recommendation on a dispositive matter, Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3) requires that the district judge “determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's [recommended] disposition that has been properly objected to.” An objection is properly made if it is both timely and specific. United States v. One Parcel of Real Property Known As 2121 East 30th Street, 73 F.3d 1057, 1059 (10th Cir.1996). In conducting its review, “[t]he district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).

         B. PRO SE PLAINTIFF

         Plaintiff proceeds pro se. The Court, therefore, reviews his pleading “liberally and hold[s] [it] to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys.” Trackwell v. United States, 472 F.3d 1242, 1243 (10th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted). However, a pro se litigant's “conclusory allegations without supporting factual averments are insufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be based.” Hall v. Bellmon,935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). A court may not assume that a plaintiff can prove facts that have not been alleged, or that a defendant has violated laws in ways that a plaintiff has not alleged. Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983); see also Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997) (a court may not “supply additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff's complaint”); Drake v. City of Fort Collins, 927 F.2d 1156, 1159 (10th Cir. 1991) (a ...


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