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Briggs v. State Dep't Fed Credit Union

May 25, 2006

JOSEPH N. BRIGGS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STATE DEP'T FED CREDIT UNION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gladys Kessler U.S. District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff, Joseph Briggs, brings this action pro se against the State Department Federal Credit Union ("SDFCU" or the "Credit Union") and two military policemen, Staff Sergeants Scherill Crowley and John Dunlap.*fn1 Plaintiff claims to have sustained permanent tissue damage when Crowley and Dunlap arrested and detained him and seeks money damages for pain and suffering as a result.

This matter is now before the Court on the United States' Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. No. 7], SDFCU's Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. No. 9], Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment by Default [Dkt. No. 15], and Plaintiff's Motion for Decision [Dkt. No. 23]. Upon consideration of the Motions, Opposition,*fn2 and Replies, and the entire record herein, and for the reasons stated below, the United States' Motion to Dismiss is granted, SDFCU's Motion to Dismiss is granted, Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment by Default is denied, and Plaintiff's Motion for Decision is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts*fn3

On January 9, 2005, Plaintiff visited the Credit Union's Fort McNair Branch to collect what he contends was a balance of $200 in an account he formerly held. While Plaintiff concedes that SDFCU paid him the $200, he claims that a dispute arose during his visit, that he was arrested and detained by Crowley and Dunlop, and that the officers kicked him four times on the right leg, causing permanent tissue damage. As a result, Plaintiff seeks $8,000,000 in damages for pain and suffering.

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed his Complaint on July 6, 2005. On October 19, 2005, after Plaintiff requested that Default Judgment be entered in his favor, the Court issued an Order denying Plaintiff's request because he had not yet effected service of process on Defendants. See Dkt. No. 3. The Court also instructed Plaintiff to familiarize himself with the "steps he must take to move his case forward" and particularly "to review the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, especially Rule 3 through Rule 6." Id. On October 25, 2005, a summons was reissued as to Defendant United States, but not as to Defendant SDFCU. While Plaintiff effected service on the United States on November 3, 2005, he has not properly served SDFCU to date.

The instant Motions to Dismiss were filed by the United States and SDFCU on January 3, 2006 and January 9, 2006, respectively. On February 8, 2006, the Court held an Initial Scheduling Conference with the parties at which it explained to Plaintiff the benefits of securing representation by counsel, if possible. At that time, the Court stayed consideration of the pending Motions until March 27, 2006 in order to give Plaintiff an opportunity to find a lawyer. To date, no attorney has entered an appearance on Plaintiff's behalf. Plaintiff has, however, continued to file numerous Motions and Notices with the Court, including the instant Motion for Judgment by Default [Dkt. No. 15] and Motion for Decision [Dkt. No. 23].

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A motion to dismiss should only be granted "when it appears beyond doubt that, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff will be unable to prove any set of facts that would justify relief." Hishon v. King & Spaulding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984). Because such motions "summarily extinguish litigation at the threshold and foreclose the opportunity for discovery and factual presentation, [they] should be treated with the greatest of care." Haynesworth v. Miller, 820 F.2d 1245, 1254 (D.C. Cir. 1987). Accordingly, the factual allegations of the complaint must be presumed true and liberally construed in favor of the plaintiff. Shear v. Nat'l Rifle Ass'n of Am., 606 F.2d 1251, 1253 (D.C. Cir. 1979).

Courts in this jurisdiction must liberally construe pleadings submitted by a pro se party. See U.S. v. Palmer, 296 F.3d 1135, 1143 (D.C. Cir. 2002) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), for the proposition that the allegations of a pro se litigant, "however inartfully pleaded," are subject to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers"). There are limits to the latitude a court must afford, however. A court may not, for instance, permit pro se litigants to disregard the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See U.S. v. Funds From Prudential Securities, 362 F. Supp. 2d 75, 82 (D.D.C. 2005). Nor may a court entertain "what[ever] claims a [pro se litigant] may or may not want to assert" without an adequate jurisdictional basis. Jarrell v. Tisch, 656 F.Supp. 237, 239 (D.D.C. 1987).

III. ANALYSIS

A. The Court Does Not Have Subject Matter Jurisdiction Over Plaintiff's Claim ...


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