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Green v. Stuyvesant

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


September 11, 2007

MARVIN GREEN, AS REPRESENTATIVE FOR MINOR CHILD SG PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOSEPH STUYVESANT CAPTAIN, U.S. NAVY, ET AL., DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reggie B. Walton United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

On August 14, 2006, the plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed his Complaint ("Compl.") in this action, which challenges one of the defendants'-- Captain Joseph Stuyvesant, the Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station in Sigonella, Italy-- issuance of a barment order on June 27, 2006, that has the effect of barring the plaintiff's wife, Sophia Torok, and minor son, SG, from the Sigonella Naval Air Station. Compl. at 2.*fn1 Specifically, the barment order prohibited the plaintiff's wife and minor son from accessing the Sigonella Naval Air Station for any purpose, including, but not limited to, receiving medical treatment at the Naval hospital and the son attending school at the Stephen Decatur Secondary School, which are located on the grounds of the Naval Air Station. Id. at 2-4. The plaintiff asserts that the barment order "represents 'reckless disregard' in its execution and is legally defective in its failure to separately recognize SG's continuing status as a [Department of Defense] Civilian's dependent--independent of his mother's mis-classification." Id. at 5.

Currently before this Court is the defendants' December 19, 2006, motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) (lack of subject matter jurisdiction)*fn2 ("Def.'s Mot.").*fn3 For the following reasons, the defendants' motion must be granted.

I. Standards of Review

Dismissal for Lack of Jurisdiction

On a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the court has jurisdiction to entertain his claims. Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police v. Aschcroft, 185 F. Supp. 2d 9, 13 (D.D.C. 2001) (holding that the court has an "affirmative obligation to ensure that it is acting within the scope of its jurisdictional authority"); Pitney Bowes, Inc. v. U.S. Postal Serv., 27 F. Supp. 2d 15, 19 (D.D.C. 1998). Since a motion for dismissal under "Rule 12(b)(1) presents a threshold challenge to the court's jurisdiction. . . .", Haase v. Sessions, 835 F.2d 902, 906 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (citations omitted), Rule 12(b)(1) requires dismissal of a complaint if the Court "lack[s] . . . jurisdiction over the subject matter . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). While the Court is required to accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint when reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164 (1993), because the plaintiff has the burden of establishing the Court's jurisdiction, the "plaintiff's factual allegations in the complaint . . . will bear closer scrutiny in resolving a 12(b)(1) motion than in resolving a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim." Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police, 185 F. Supp. 2d at 13-14 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). This scrutiny permits the Court to consider material outside of the pleadings in its effort to determine whether it has jurisdiction. SeeEEOC v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624-25 n.3 (D.C. Cir. 1997); Herbert v. Nat'l Acad. of Scis., 974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C. Cir. 1992); Haase, 835 F.2d at 906; Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police, 185 F. Supp. 2d at 14.

II. Legal Analysis

The defendant requests that the Court dismiss the plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) because: (1) "this Court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of an action under the Federal Tort Claims Act, because Green has not asserted, nor can he allege, that he has exhausted his administrative remedies under that Act," Def.'s Mot. at 4, and (2) "this Court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of Green's prayer for relief with respect to [the] state and federal law claims of 'reckless disregard' and 'child endangerment' because courts have long refrained from providing litigants with 'advisory opinions' of the type Green seeks," id. at 4-5, and (3) "Green lacks standing to advance these criminal charges before this Court", id. at 5. In the plaintiff's opposition, he does not address any assertions and arguments set forth in the defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1). See Plaintiff Opposition ("Pl.'s Opp'n."). The Court is therefore left to evaluate the sustainability of this matter against the challenge being raised by the defendants based solely on the plaintiff's Complaint.

The Supreme Court instructed in Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520(1972) that the complaint of a pro se plaintiff must be held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Richardson v. United States 193 F.3d 545, 548 (D.C. Cir. 1999) (holding that "[c]courts must construe pro se filings liberally") (citing Haines, 404 U.S. at 520). Despite this required leniency, a pro se plaintiff's Complaint "must at least meet a minimal standard" of what pleadings must entail. Price v. Phoenix Home Life Ins. Co., 44 F. Supp. 2d 28, 31 (D.D.C.1999) (citing Wilson v. Civil Town of Clayton,Ind., 839 F.2d 375, 378-79 (7th Cir.1988)).

Here, the plaintiff has failed to set forth in his Complaint the statutory or other authority upon which his claim is grounded or the basis for this Court's jurisdiction. Initially, the plaintiff asserts that his son is being harmed medically by his inability to have access to the military base following his recent surgery and contends that his son will further be harmed by not being able to attend the high school located on the base which he has attended for the past five years. Compl. at 3-4. The plaintiff then states in his Complaint that he is challenging defendant Stuyvesant's issuance of the June 27, 2006 barment order that has resulted in his wife and minor son being barred from the Sigonella Naval Air Station, id. at 2, and he requests that the Court "set aside" the barment order. Id. at 4. Finally, the plaintiff requests that this Court find that the "[p]laintiff[,] as [a] parent[,] has the right to file civil 'reckless disregard' and/or 'child endangerment' charges (or other similar laws as might be more applicable), against the office of Base Capt., NAS Sigonella-under California law . . . [and] federal law." Id. at 5. This totally fails to comply with the pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) (requiring a party seeking relief to set forth in the party's pleading "(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends, . . . (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and (3) a demand for judgment for the relief the pleader seeks"). Having failed to specify the basis for this Court's jurisdiction, the Court must conclude that the plaintiff has failed to establish that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction.*fn4 Accordingly, the defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) must be granted.

III. Conclusion

For the foregoing reasons, the defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) (lack of subject matter jurisdiction) is GRANTED.*fn5

SO ORDERED on this 11th day of September, 2007.*fn6


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