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Cooke v. Corp. of the Pres. of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Cooke v. Corp. of the Pres. of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

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Published by peterrtenn
U.S. District Court of Arizona decision dismissing claims by a member of the FLDS Church against the LDS (Mormon) Church alleging collusion between the LDS Church and the states of Utah and Arizona to engage in religious persecution of the FLDS Church.
U.S. District Court of Arizona decision dismissing claims by a member of the FLDS Church against the LDS (Mormon) Church alleging collusion between the LDS Church and the states of Utah and Arizona to engage in religious persecution of the FLDS Church.

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Published by: peterrtenn on Aug 19, 2009
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05/11/2014

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United States District Court,D. Arizona.Roland COOKE, Plaintiff,v.The CORPORATION OF the PRESIDENT OF the CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OFLATTER DAY SAINTS; The Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christof Latter Day Saints, Defendants.No. CV 08-8080-PCT-MHM.Aug. 11, 2009.
Roland Cooke, Colorado City, AZ, pro se.Lawrence C. Wright, Wright & Associates, Mesa, AZ, Defendants.
ORDER 
MARY H. MURGUIA, District Judge.Currently pending before the Court is Defendants Corporation of the President of the Church of JesusChrist Latter-day Saints and Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Dkt.# 36). Also pending beforethe Court are Plaintiff Roland Cooke's Motion for Extension of Time to File Further Petitions (Dkt.#38), Motion for “the Judge to Declare the Confiscation of the United Effort Plan Illegal” (Dkt.# 44),Motion for a Negotiated Settlement (Dkt.# 45), Motion for Summary Judgment for Monetary Damages(Dkt.# 47), Motion to Amend Complaint: Damages (Dkt.# 48), and Amended Motion for “ImmediateJudgment to Declare the Confiscation of the Unit Effort Plan Illegal” (Dkt. # 50). After reviewing the pleadings and determining that oral argument is unnecessary, the Court issues the following Order.
I. BACKGROUND
On June 30, 2008, Plaintiff filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against “TheMormon Church” and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), asserting the following counts:Count 1-“[o]ur homes and our property have been stolen, partly because the FBI and greatly because of the Mormon Church”; Count 2-“Warren Jeffs was put on Ten Most Wanted because he married a whoreto ___ Steed”; and Count 3-“[t]he FBI has invaded our church house.” (Dkt.# 1). Plaintiff requestedmonetary damages against “The Mormon Church” in the amount of “25 bilion [sic] dollars” andagainst the FBI in the amount of “12 bilion [sic] dollars.” (
 Id.
). Plaintiff filed a Motion for DefaultJudgment on August 14, 2008 (Dkt.# 9), which the Court subsequently denied as Plaintiff failed to firstseek default judgment from the Clerk of the Court as required under Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). (Dkt.# 12).On August 22, 2008, the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appeared on behalf of “The Mormon Church”
1
and moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaintfor insufficient service of process pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(5). (Dkt.# 10). Plaintiff subsequentlyfiled a motion for default judgment, motion to change the name (or add as a defendant) and alternative petition to file an amended complaint, motion for injunctive relief, motion to consolidate cases anddismiss charges against Warren Jeffs, motion for summary judgment against the Mormon Church, and
1The Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Utah corporation solethat conducts legal affairs on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
 
motion for immediate injunctive relief. (Dkt. # s 18, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 27). The Court granted themotion to dismiss and dismissed without prejudice the Complaint on November 25, 2008. (Dkt.# 32).The Court thus denied as moot Plaintiff's motions for default judgement and to change name (or add asa defendant), and denied Plaintiff's motions for injunctive relief, motion to consolidate cases anddismiss charges against Warren Jeffs, motion for summary judgment, and motion for immediateinjunctive relief because Plaintiff failed to present sufficient facts or cite to sufficient authority to allowthe Court to rule on such motions. (
 Id.
). The Court also granted Plaintiff's motion for leave to file anamended complaint, but denied Plaintiff's request for the Court to appoint a United States Marshal toeffect service. (
 Id.
).Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on December 9, 2008. (Dkt.# 33). The amended complaint namesthe Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints and Corporation of thePresiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as defendants; but drops the FBI asa named defendant in this action. (Dkt.# 33). The complaint includes a single count of “discrimination, persecution for religion” brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and seeks 250 million dollars indamages against each defendant. (
 Id.
). In his amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges, among other things,that “[t]he Mormon Church has used the state of Utah [to conduct a] religious war against Warren Jeffsand his people,” has “launched a successful media campaign to label us child abusers and polygamists,” and “labled [sic] Warren Jeffs a terrorist [and] taken away our homes and our property(hundreds of millions of dollars value)[,] selling it away like thieves that they are .... Shame on Utah.Shame on the Mormon Church.” (
 Id 
., pp. 3, 4). Plaintiff also attaches an “Appendage,” in which he briefly discusses the history of polygamy and the Mormon Church.On December 18, 2008, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint (Dkt.# 36) for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and as barred by the doctrine of res judicata.(Dkt.# 36). Plaintiff filed a response on January 5, 2009. (Dkt.# 37). Plaintiff subsequently inundatedthe Court with motions: (1) Motion for Extension of Time to File Further Petitions (Dkt.# 38), (2)Motion to Consolidate Cases (with CV 09-8003-PCT-LOA) (Dkt. # 39)
2
, (3) Motion for “the Judge toDeclare the Confiscation of the United Effort Plan Illegal” (Dkt.# 44), (3) Motion for a NegotiatedSettlement (Dkt.# 45), (4) Motion for Summary Judgment for Monetary Damages (Dkt.# 47), (5)Motion to Amend Complaint: Damages (Dkt.# 48), and (6) Amended Motion for “Immediate Judgmentto Declare the Confiscation of the Unit Effort Plan Illegal” (Dkt.# 50). As a result, the Court orderedthat Plaintiff could not file any new motions without leave of the Court until the Court ruled on the pending motion to dismiss. (Dkt.# 53).On April 22, 2009, Plaintiff filed a “Notice of Intent to Appeal,” which was redocketed as a notice of interlocutory appeal, stating that “[w]e have received permission ... from the 9th Circuit Court in SanFrancisco to appeal our case to their court and intend on May 6 to do so unless we have some actionfrom this court toward returning our homes and property.” (Dkt.# 55). The appeal was processed to the Ninth Circuit on June 12, 2009.FN3 (Dkt. # s 58, 59).
3
2Plaintiff withdrew his motion to consolidate cases on March 24, 2009.3Plaintiff does not appeal any particular order; he simply complains of the Court's failure to rule on the pending motions by a date imposed by him. (Dkt.# 56). The Court thus retains jurisdiction to rule on the pending motions.
See
 
Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co.
, 459 U.S. 56, 58, 103 S.Ct. 400, 74 L.Ed.2d 225 (1982) (“[I]t is obviously preferableto postpone the notice of appeal until after the motion is disposed of.”);
 Ruby v. Secretary of U.S. Navy
, 365 F.2d 385,389 (9th Cir.1966) (“Where the deficiency in a notice of appeal, by reason of untimeliness, lack of essential recitals, or reference to a non-appealable order, is clear to the district court, it may disregard the purported notice of appeal and proceed with the case, knowing that it has not been deprived of jurisdiction.”).
 
II. LEGAL STANDARD
The Court must liberally construe pleadings submitted by a pro se claimant, affording the claimant the benefit of any doubt.
 Karim-Panahi v. L.A. Police Dep't 
, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir.1988). However,the Court “may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.”
 Ivey v. Bd. of  Regents
, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir.1982).To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b))6), the plaintiff must allege facts sufficient “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
 Bell Atl. Corp. v.Twombly
, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). The “complaint must containsufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’ “
 Ashcroft v. Iqbal 
, ---U.S. ----, ----, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting
Twombly
,550 U.S. at 570). Compare
Wyler Summit Partnership v. Turner Broad. Sys. Inc.
, 135 F.3d 658, 661(9th Cir.1998) (“[A]ll well-pleaded allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in a lightmost favorable to the nonmoving party.”) with
Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors
, 266 F.3d 979, 988(9th Cir.2001) (“[T]he court [is not] required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory,unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.”). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of acause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”
 Id.
;
Twombly
, 550 U.S. at555 (“[A] formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.”).However, “[a] dismissal for failure to state a claim is appropriate only where it appears, beyond doubt,that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts that would entitle it to relief.”
Morley v. Walker 
, 175 F.3d 756,759 (9th Cir.1999). Also, in evaluating a motion to dismiss, a district court need not limit itself to theallegations in the complaint; but may take into account any “facts that are [ ] alleged on the face of thecomplaint [and] contained in documents attached to the complaint.”
 Knievel v. ESPN 
, 393 F.3d 1068,1076 (9th Cir.2005).
III. DISCUSSIONA. Res Judicata
Defendants argue that “[Plaintiff's] Amended Complaint is [ ] barred by the doctrine of res judicata” because it is based on the same facts, and is between the same parties, as a complaint Plaintiff filed inUtah state court on May 6, 2008. (Dkt.# 36, pp. 3-4). That complaint was dismissed with prejudice bythe state court on July 17, 2008. (Dkt.# 36, p. 3). In response, Plaintiff contends that his claims are not barred by res judicata because the complaint filed in Utah state court “was a complaint for the citizensof Utah. This Complaint is for the citizens of Arizona .... [and] the issues are completely different andhave no bearing on each other whatsoever ....‘ (Dkt.# 37, p. 2).“Under res judicata, a final judgment on the merits of an action precludes the parties or their priviesfrom relitigating issues that were or could have been raised in that action.”
 Allen v. McCurry
, 449 U.S.90, 93, 101 S.Ct. 411, 66 L.Ed.2d 308 (1980). “[A] federal court must give to a state-court judgmentthe same preclusive effect as would be given that judgment under the law of the State in which the judgment was rendered.”
Migra v. Warren City School Dist. Bd. of Educ.
, 465 U.S. 75, 81, 104 S.Ct.892, 79 L.Ed.2d 56 (1984). Thus, the Court applies Utah law concerning the preclusive effect of theUtah judgment.Under Utah law, “[f]or claim preclusion to bar a claim in a subsequent action, (1) the subsequent actionmust involve the same parties, their privies, or their assigns as the first action, (2) the claim to be barred

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