Bundy, who is represented by attorney Larry Klayman, filed a lawsuit last year against former Attorneys General Jeff Sessions, Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder as well as former BLM Director Neil Kornze and former FBI Director James Comey.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, accuses the officials of “illegal search and seizure and excessive force, but also subsequent meritless illegal and malicious prosecution,” as well as violations of Bundy’s religious freedoms (E&E News PM, Dec. 14, 2018).
In a motion filed yesterday, DOJ Civil Division Trial Attorney Siegmund Fuchs asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to dismiss the complaint with prejudice, which would bar Bundy from filing a new case on similar grounds.
Among the government’s objections, Fuchs noted that the three former attorneys general are “entitled to absolute immunity on all claims brought against them,” while both Comey and Kornze are “entitled to qualified immunity because the complaint fails to sufficiently allege their personal participation in any alleged wrong.”
“It is clear that Plaintiff seeks to hold Defendants Comey and Kornze liable simply because they were the directors of their respective agencies at the time of the standoff,” Fuchs wrote. “That is just a blatant attempt to pursue vicarious liability … something the Supreme Court has rejected.”
Fuchs also argued that Bundy’s claims about “search and seizure and excessive force” had exceeded a statute of limitations and that the lawsuit “fails to plead clearly established constitutional violations.”
“The Court need not go any further to grant this motion to dismiss,” Fuchs wrote.
Bundy spent two years in federal custody as he faced a series of trials over both his leadership of a 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and the 2014 standoff that was sparked when BLM agents attempted to seize his father Cliven Bundy’s cattle over unpaid grazing fees and trespass fines.
A jury acquitted Bundy on charges stemming from the Malheur incident, and a federal judge declared a mistrial in the Nevada case, after finding that federal prosecutors had withheld key evidence from defendants.
Federal prosecutors have submitted a request to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a new trial (Greenwire, March 11).