IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF MONTANA
2003 MT 22N
WILLIAM LARRY WEAVER,
Plaintiff and Appellant,
DEPUTY MARK HARRIS and DEPUTY SKIDMORE,
Defendants and Respondents.
District Court of the Fourth Judicial District,
In and for the County of Missoula, Cause No. DV-01-263,
Honorable John W. Larson, Judge Presiding
COUNSEL OF RECORD:
William Larry Weaver, pro se, Buford, Georgia
Fred Van Valkenburg, County Attorney; Michael W. Sehestedt,
Deputy County Attorney, Missoula, Montana
Submitted on Briefs: May 16, 2002
Decided: February 13, 2003
Justice Jim Rice delivered the Opinion of the Court.
Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court 1996 Internal
Operating Rules, the following decision shall not be cited as precedent. It shall be filed as a
public document with the Clerk of the Supreme Court and shall be reported by case title,
Supreme Court cause number and result to the State Reporter Publishing Company and to
West Group in the quarterly table of noncitable cases issued by this Court.
The Fourth Judicial District Court, Missoula County, dismissed
William Larry Weaver’s negligence complaint under the doctrine of
In April of 1998, Weaver was assaulted and injured by another
Weaver filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint in the
federal district court for Montana, claiming his injuries were
caused by the “deliberate indifference” of Deputies Mark Harris and
In March of 2000, the federal court entered judgment for the
The court stated undisputed facts showed that the
defendants moved Weaver away from known dangers in the jail each
time they learned of a threat to him.
In addition, there was
nothing before the court to indicate the defendants had any actual
knowledge of a substantial risk to which they knowingly exposed
Weaver in the cell block where he was housed at the time of his
Therefore, the federal court granted the defendants’
motion for summary judgment.
In this action, Weaver alleges his Missoula County Jail
injuries were caused by the negligence of the same defendants named
in his earlier federal lawsuit.
The defendants moved to dismiss on
grounds that Weaver had an opportunity to raise his state law claim
in federal court but failed to do so, resulting in a res judicata
bar to the current action.
The District Court granted the motion
to dismiss on that basis.
Whether the District Court correctly applied the doctrine of
res judicata is a question of law.
Our standard of review is
whether the District Court’s interpretation of the law is correct.
Carbon County v. Union Reserve Coal Co. (1995), 271 Mont. 459, 469,
898 P.2d 680, 686.
Res judicata prevents a party from relitigating a matter the party has already had an
opportunity to litigate. A claim is res judicata when (1) the parties are the same, (2) the
subject matter of the claim is the same, (3) the issues are the same and related to the same
subject matter, and (4) the capacities of the persons are the same in relation to the subject
matter and the issues. Loney v. Milodragovich, Dale & Dye, P.C. (1995), 273 Mont. 506,
510, 905 P.2d 158, 161. As to the third element of res judicata, a judgment is binding and
conclusive between all parties to the suit as to all matters adjudicated and all issues which
could have been properly raised, irrespective of whether the particular matter was in fact
litigated. Hall v. Heckerman, 2000 MT 300, ¶ 16, 302 Mont. 345, ¶ 16, 15 P.3d 869, ¶ 16.
In determining that Weaver’s state law negligence claim could
have been raised in federal court, the District Court relied upon
the doctrine of pendent jurisdiction.
Under that doctrine, when a
substantial federal claim derives from the same set of facts as
state law claims, a federal court may exercise pendent jurisdiction
United Mine Workers v. Gibbs (1966), 383 U.S. 715, 726, 86 S.Ct.
1130, 1139, 16 L.Ed.2d 218, 228.
exercise pendent jurisdiction because federal courts “are averse to
exercising pendent jurisdiction” and because there is a presumption
that the federal court liberally construed the complaint.
unknown, however, whether the federal court would have chosen to
exercise pendent jurisdiction over Weaver’s state law negligence
claim, because Weaver did not present that claim for such a ruling
in the federal court action.
Arguably, the negligence claim could
have been properly raised in the federal court.
reasoning or authority–that his claim that the defendants were
deliberately indifferent is mutually exclusive from his claim that they
were negligent. We have repeatedly held that we will not consider unsupported arguments
and we are under no obligation to locate authorities or formulate arguments for a party in
support of positions taken on appeal. See Rule 23(a)(4), M.R.App.P.; State v. Rodarte, 2002
MT 317, ¶ 15, 313 Mont. 131, ¶ 15, 60 P.3d 983, ¶ 15.
We hold the District Court was correct in ruling that because Weaver failed to present
his state law negligence claim in his federal action, res judicata bars him from raising the
claim in this action. Therefore, the District Court correctly granted the motion to dismiss.
/S/ JIM RICE
/S/ KARLA M. GRAY
/S/ PATRICIA COTTER
/S/ JIM REGNIER
/S/ JAMES C. NELSON