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Roum v. Bush

November 14, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge


Before the Court are Defendants' motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment, as well as a related "motion for order" filed by Plaintiff Buony Roum. Defendants contend that the Complaint must be dismissed because most of Plaintiff's claims are barred by sovereign immunity. Defendants also contend that Plaintiff's claims are so unsubstantial that the Court lacks jurisdiction. Finally, Defendants argue that they are entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 ("FOIA") because they have complied with their obligations under that statute. Plaintiff opposes summary judgment on the ground that Defendants have wrongfully withheld documents under FOIA. With respect to his other claims, Plaintiff fails to articulate a coherent response to Defendants' arguments. Having considered the briefs and other documents in the record, the Court concludes that Defendants' motions should be granted and that the Complaint will be dismissed; Plaintiff's motion will be denied as moot.


Plaintiff Buony Roum filed this action on January 20, 2006. The Complaint, as far as the Court can discern, alleges an intricate plot by various agencies and officials of the federal government to kidnap, torture, and kill Mr. Roum. According to the Complaint, Defendants have: tried to poison Mr. Roum; taken him to a hospital and implanted him with a GPS microchip that releases harmful chemicals into his body; placed him under constant surveillance; broken into his apartment and laced his belongings with poison; used a "laser weapon" and other high-tech contraptions to injure him; given poison to his co-workers to place in his belongings; wrongly accused him of being linked to Al Qaeda; disseminated lies that he is making bombs and weapons of mass destruction in his basement; tried to kidnap him and take him to secret facilities to perform mind control experiments on him; and tried to trick him into attending terrorist training camps in order to arrest him. The Complaint seems to allege that this government conspiracy stems from a private dispute between Mr. Roum and an insurance company arising from an auto accident that occurred in 1999. In addition, the Complaint alleges that President Bush is breaking the law by spying on Plaintiff and other American citizens. Finally, Mr. Roum alleges that the FBI and CIA violated the FOIA by refusing to turn over documents pursuant to requests he submitted to those agencies. He seeks injunctive relief and $875 million in damages.

The Complaint bases jurisdiction on a hodgepodge of federal statutes,*fn1 as well as the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. With few exceptions, however, none of the statutes cited in the Complaint provides a private right of action to persons like Mr. Roum. Therefore, taking the allegations in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court construes the Complaint to assert two basic causes of action: first, a cause of action for damages and injunctive relief arising from alleged physical, psychological, and constitutional injuries inflicted upon him by Defendants; and second, a cause of action under FOIA against the CIA and FBI to release records pertaining to Mr. Roum that are in those agencies' possession.

On April 13, 2006, Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, to grant Defendants summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56. Plaintiff filed an opposition brief and supporting exhibits on April 26, and Defendants filed a reply on May 8. One month later, on June 8, 2006, Defendants moved to stay the proceedings in order to allow the FBI to process Plaintiff's FOIA request. The Court granted Defendants' motion and stayed the case for 60 days. On August 14, Defendants filed a "Supplemental Motion to Dismiss" attaching an affidavit which represented that the FBI had processed Plaintiff's FOIA request and found no responsive documents. On September 15, 2006, Plaintiff asked the Court to rule on the pending dispositive motions. The Court reads this filing to indicate that Mr. Roum has no additional evidence to rebut the FBI's supplemental affidavit and seeks a ruling based on the current record.


A. Rule 12(b)(6)

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the adequacy of a complaint on its face, testing whether a plaintiff has properly stated a claim. "[A] complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). The court must treat the complaint's factual allegations - including mixed questions of law and fact - as true and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in the plaintiff's favor. Macharia v. U. S., 334 F.3d 61, 64, 67 (D.C. Cir. 2003); Holy Land Found. for Relief & Dev. v. Ashcroft, 333 F.3d 156, 165 (D.C. Cir. 2003). The court need not, however, accept as true inferences unsupported by facts set out in the complaint or legal conclusions cast as factual allegations. Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir. 2002).In deciding a 12(b)(6) motion, the Court may typically consider only "the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint, and matters about which the Court may take judicial notice." Gustave-Schmidt v. Chao, 226 F. Supp. 2d 191, 196 (D.D.C. 2002) (citation omitted).However, the Court may, in its discretion, consider matters outside the pleadings and thereby convert a Rule 12(b)(6) motion into a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b); Yates v. District of Columbia, 324 F.3d 724, 725 (D.C. Cir. 2003).

B. Summary Judgment

Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment must be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Diamond v. Atwood, 43 F.3d 1538, 1540 (D.C. Cir. 1995). To determine which facts are "material," a court must look to the substantive law on which each claim rests. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248 (1986). A "genuine issue" is one whose resolution could establish an element of a claim or defense and, therefore, affect the outcome of the action. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must show that the nonmoving party "fail[ed] to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. By pointing to the absence of evidence proffered by the nonmoving party, a moving party may succeed on summary judgment. Id. In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must draw all justifiable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor and accept the nonmoving party's evidence as true. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. A nonmoving party must, however, establish more than "the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of its position, id. at 252, and cannot rely solely on allegations or conclusory statements, Greene v. Dalton, 164 F.3d 671, 675 (D.C. Cir. 1999); Harding v. Gray, 9 F.3d 150, 154 (D.C. Cir. 1993). Rather, the nonmoving party must present specific facts that would enable a reasonable jury to find in its favor. Greene, 164 F.3d at 675. If the evidence "is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (citations omitted).

C. Rule 12(b)(1)

Under Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the Court possesses jurisdiction. See Shekoyan v. Sibley Int'l Corp., 217 F. Supp. 2d 59, 63 (D.D.C. 2002); Pitney Bowes Inc. v. U.S. Postal Serv., 27 F. Supp. 2d 15, 19 (D.D.C. 1998). Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and the law presumes that "a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 288-89 (1938). Because "subject-matter jurisdiction is an 'Art. III as well as a statutory requirement[,] no action of the parties can confer subject-matter jurisdiction upon a federal court.'" Akinseye v. District of Columbia, 339 F.3d 970, 971 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (quoting Ins. Corp. of Ir., Ltd. v. Compagnie des Bauxite de Guinea, 456 U.S. 694, 702 (1982)). It is well established that, in deciding a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, a court is not limited to the allegations set forth in the complaint, "but may also ...

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