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Chandler v. Roche

August 19, 2002


Document Nos.: 7, 14

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge



This matter comes before the court on the defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. The pro se plaintiff, Phillip C. Chandler, alleges an ongoing conspiracy by the defendants to remove him from the D.C. Air Force National Guard ("AFNG"). The plaintiff claims that the defendants, in their official and individual capacities, violated his rights under the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff seeks treble damages, back pay, reinstatement to his position, and eligibility for retirement as a Technician in the Air Guard Reserve. The defendants argue that the court lacks subject- matter jurisdiction and that intramilitary immunity bars the plaintiff's claims against his superiors. Because the plaintiff's requested damages exceed $10,000, exclusive jurisdiction over his claims against the United States lies with the Court of Federal Claims. In addition, because intramilitary immunity bars the plaintiff's damages claims against his military superiors, the court determines that the plaintiff failed to state a legal claim against them. Accordingly, the court grants the defendants' motion to dismiss.


Philip Chandler served as a member of AFNG for over 18 years. Compl. Encl. 18. In 1997, Mr. Chandler began to experience problems with AFNG. Id. 5-6. His superiors accused him of improperly using a government credit card and behaving violently. Id. Then, because of the latter accusation, Mr. Chandler's superiors committed him to Walter Reed Army Hospital for psychological observation. Id.

On August 15, 1997, Mr. Chandler learned that his superiors recommended him for discharge. Id. at 6. On December 5, 1997, an Administrative Discharge Board convened and two days later recommended that AFNG discharge Mr. Chandler. Compl. Encl. 18. In May 1998, AFNG discharged Mr. Chandler. Id.

The plaintiff filed a challenge to his discharge with the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records ("AFBCMR") on May 18, 1998. Id. AFBCMR denied Mr. Chandler's requested relief on February 3, 2000 and then denied his request for reconsideration on January 25, 2001. Id. Mr. Chandler filed this action on July 30, 2001. Id.

The plaintiff alleges that his AFNG superiors violated his constitutional and civil rights by wrongfully causing his discharge from the military and failing to properly review his discharge. Id. at 10, Encl. 8. The court interprets this pro se complaint as including claims against the individual AFNG superiors pursuant to the Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and claims for judicial review of the Air Force's decision to discharge the plaintiff. Compl. The plaintiff seeks reinstatement in AFNG, back pay, treble damages, and eligibility for retirement from AFNG. Id. at 10. The defendants respond that this court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) to hear this case and that the plaintiff failed to state a valid legal claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Mot. to Dismiss at 3-11. The court dismisses the plaintiff's claims for review of the discharge for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and dismisses the constitutional and civil rights damages claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.


A. Legal Standard for a Motion to Dismiss

On a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that the court has jurisdiction. Dist. of Columbia Retirement Bd. v. United States, 657 F. Supp. 428, 431 (D.D.C. 1987). In evaluating whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, the court must accept all of the complaint's well-pled factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982). The court need not, however, accept inferences unsupported by the facts alleged or legal conclusions that are cast as factual allegations. E.g., Lawrence v. Dunbar, 919 F.2d 1525, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990).

Moreover, the court need not limit itself to the allegations of the complaint. Hohri v. United States, 782 F.2d 227, 241 (D.C. Cir. 1986), vacated on other grounds, 482 U.S. 64 (1987). Rather, the court may consider such materials outside the pleadings as it deems appropriate to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the case. Herbert v. Nat'l Acad. of Sciences, 974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C. Cir. 1992).

For a complaint to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, it need only provide a short and plain statement of the claim and the grounds on which it rests. FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2); Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests not whether the plaintiff will prevail on the merits, but instead whether the plaintiff has properly stated a claim. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6); Scheuer, 416 U.S. at 236. The plaintiff need not plead the elements of a prima-facie case in the complaint. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506 (2002) (holding that a plaintiff in an ...

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