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Young v. Kraus

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

October 12, 2017

MICHAEL M. KRAUS, Owner of Tree Works Inc., COUNTY OF HAWAII, POLICE DEPARTMENT, PATRICK T. KIHARA as a Police Officer in the County of Hawaii, State of Hawaii, JOHN DOES 1-10, JANE DOES 1-10, DOE CORPORATIONS 1-10, DOE PARTNERSHIPS 1-10, AND DOE GOVERNMENT ENTITIES 1-10, Defendants.


          Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge.

         On June 23, 2017, the magistrate judge issued the Order Granting Defendants' Motion for Sanctions Against Plaintiff (“6/23/17 Order”), and, on June 29, 2017, he issued an entering order determining the amount of the sanction award (“6/29/17 EO”). [Dkt. nos. 125, 129.] On July 10, 2017, pro se Plaintiff Christopher Young (“Plaintiff”) filed a document titled “Verification of Plaintiff's Objection to the 6/23/2017 Order Granting Defendants' Motion for Sanctions Against Plaintiff.” [Dkt. no. 130.] This Court has construed Plaintiff's filing as an appeal of the 6/23/17 Order and the 6/29/17 EO (“Appeal”). [EO, filed 7/11/17 (dkt. no. 131) (construing filing).] Defendants Michael M. Kraus (“Kraus”) and Tree Works, Inc. (collectively “Defendants” or “the Tree Works Defendants”) filed a “Memorandum in Support of Sanctions Imposed upon Plaintiff” (“Response”) on July 25, 2017, and Plaintiff filed a document objecting to the Response on August 11, 2017. [Dkt. nos. 132, 133.] The Court has considered the Appeal as a non-hearing matter pursuant to Rule LR7.2(e) of the Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of Hawai'i (“Local Rules”). Plaintiff's Appeal is hereby denied, and the 6/23/17 Order and the 6/29/17 EO are hereby affirmed, for the reasons set forth below.


         The relevant factual and procedural background of this case is set forth in the 6/23/17 Order. Ultimately, the magistrate judge: declined to recommend the dismissal of Plaintiff's case; “order[ed] Plaintiff to provide complete and detailed responses to Defendants' interrogatories . . . by July 7, 2017”; and ordered Plaintiff to reimburse Defendants' attorney's fees and costs incurred in connection with the underlying motion.[1] [6/23/17 Order at 5.] In the 6/29/17 EO, the magistrate judge found that the Tree Works Defendants' counsel “reasonably and necessarily incurred $739.50 bringing the Motion for Sanctions” and ordered Plaintiff to pay that amount to them, through their counsel, by July 12, 2017.

         In the Appeal, Plaintiff appears to argue that: the Tree Works Defendants' counsel failed to disclose the fact that Kraus “is an outlaw, fugitive from justice in the State Court jurisdiction”; [Appeal at 1;] the magistrate judge did not have jurisdiction to issue the 6/23/17 Order and the 6/29/17 EO because the Tree Works Defendants' counsel has attempted to conceal the fact that Defendant Patrick T. Kihara (“Kihara”) violated his duties by failing to issue a citation to Kraus after the accident in question; the magistrate judge failed to consider the violations of public policy related to the fact that Kraus is a fugitive and Kihara failed to issue a citation to him; the magistrate judge failed to consider the objections and request for sanctions against the defendants' attorneys that Plaintiff filed on December 2, 2016; the magistrate judge failed to consider Plaintiff's position that the case must be remanded to state court; defense counsel, the magistrate judge, and this Court have discriminated against him in this case because he is black; the magistrate judge failed to impartially consider all of the submissions in support of Plaintiff's arguments at the hearing on the Motion for Sanctions; Plaintiff did not receive the 6/23/17 Order until July 1, 2017, leaving him insufficient time to respond to the interrogatories; he should not be forced to answer the interrogatories because the case is on appeal to the United States Supreme Court; and paying the sanction against him would be a financial hardship.


         This district court has stated:

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a), and LR 74.1, any party may appeal to the district court any pretrial nondispositive matter determined by a magistrate judge. Such an order may be reversed by the district court judge only when it is “clearly erroneous or contrary to law.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); LR 74.1. An order is “contrary to law” when it “fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of procedure.” Akey v. Placer Cty., 2017 WL 1831944, at *10 (E.D. Cal. May 8, 2017) (citation and quotation marks omitted). And an order is “clearly erroneous” if, after review, the court has a “definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” Easley v. Cromartie, 532 U.S. 234, 242 (2001); Fisher v. Tucson Unified Sch. Dist., 652 F.3d 1131, 1136 (9th Cir. 2011); Cochran v. Aguirre, 2017 WL 2505230, at *1 (E.D. Cal. June 9, 2017) (citing cases). “[R]eview under the ‘clearly erroneous' standard is significantly deferential.” Concrete Pipe & Prods. v. Constr. Laborers Pension Tr., 508 U.S. 602, 623 (1993). Thus, the district court “may not simply substitute its judgment for that of the deciding court.” Grimes v. City & Cty. of S.F., 951 F.2d 236, 241 (9th Cir. 1991); Cochran, 2017 WL 2505230, at *1.
“‘Pretrial orders of a magistrate' judge ‘under § 636(b)(1)(A) . . . are not subject to a de novo determination.'” Hypolite v. Zamora, 2017 WL 68113, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 6, 2017) (quoting Merritt v. Int'l Bhd. of Boilermakers, 649 F.2d 1013, 1017 (5th Cir. 1981)). Consideration by the reviewing court of new evidence, therefore, is not permitted. United States ex rel. Liotine v. CDW Gov't, Inc., 2013 WL 1611427, at *1 (S.D. Ill. Apr. 15, 2013) (“If the district court allowed new evidence [on review of a magistrate judge's non-dispositive order], it would essentially be conducting an impermissible de novo review of the order.”); cf. United States v. Howell, 231 F.3d 615, 621 (9th Cir. 2000) (determining that “a district court has discretion, but is not required, to consider evidence presented for the first time” in a de novo review of a magistrate judge's dispositive recommendation).

McAllister v. Adecco USA Inc., Civ. No. 16-00447 JMS-KJM, 2017 WL 2818198, at *2 (D. Hawai'i June 29, 2017) (alterations in McAllister).


         First, many of Plaintiff's arguments improperly ask to revisit prior rulings in this case. This Court has already considered and rejected Plaintiff's arguments that this case was improperly removed and should be remanded to the state court. [Order Denying “Verification of Plaintiff's Objection to Judges Failiar to Address the Rule 4 Violations of the Defendants County's Counsel in the Removal on 9/28/2015, ” filed 4/19/16 (dkt. no. 46), at 7-9.] Likewise, Plaintiff's claims against Defendants the County of Hawai'i and the County of Hawai'i Police Department (collectively, “the County”) and Kihara (all collectively, “the County Defendants”) have previously been found to fail to state plausible claims for relief. Those claims have been dismissed with prejudice. [Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part the County Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Christopher Young Amendment (Sic) of Complaint Filed March 4, 2016 [Document 35], filed 1/27/17 (dkt. no. 106) (“1/27/17 Order”).] The Appeal is therefore denied to the extent it is based upon Plaintiff's arguments that the case should be remanded to state court and that the claims against the County Defendants should not have been dismissed.

         Similarly, Plaintiff's argument that Kraus is “an outlaw” and a “fugitive from justice” appear to relate to his allegations that: Kihara had a duty to arrest or issue a criminal citation to Kraus because Kraus's negligence and violation of Hawai'i statutes caused an accident that resulted in injuries or damages to Plaintiff; and Kihara breached that duty by failing to do so. [Amendment of Complaint (“Amended Complaint”), filed 3/4/16 (dkt. no. 35), at ¶¶ 12-14.] It is clear that Plaintiff still believes Kihara should have arrested or cited Kraus and disagrees with the dismissal of his claims against Kihara challenging Kihara's failure to do so. However, Plaintiff's disagreement with the dismissal of his claims against Kihara does not justify his failure to respond to the Tree Works Defendants' discovery requests. To the extent the Appeal is based on Plaintiff's allegations that Kraus is an outlaw or a fugitive, the Appeal is denied.

         Plaintiff also argues that the 6/23/17 Order and the 6/29/17 EO should be reversed because the magistrate judge failed to consider Plaintiff's previous objections and request for sanctions. On December 2, 2016, Plaintiff filed a document titled “Verification of Plaintiff's Objection to the Violation of the Rule 16 Process and Plaintiff's Due Process and Equal Protection and this Judge's Failure to Address Plaintiff's Objections to the Violations and Requests for Sanctions for Said Violations” (“12/2/16 Filing”). [Dkt. no. 101.] Plaintiff is correct that there was no order issued addressing the 12/2/16 Filing. However, the 12/2/16 Filing merely restates objections and requests that Plaintiff made during a November 21, 2016 status conference regarding the trial date. See Minutes, filed 11/21/16 (dkt. no. 97). Thus, an order addressing the 12/2/16 Filing was not necessary. Moreover, ...

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