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Leggett v. Powers

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


November 20, 2009

JAMES LEGGETT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JEFFREY D. POWERS, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: John D. Bates United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

In this civil action filed pro se, plaintiff James Leggett, a resident of Houston, Texas, sues Jeffrey D. Powers for alleged misdeeds stemming from his role as "law enforcement liaison with the [Federal Emergency Management Agency ("FEMA")] organization[.]" Compl. at 2. Specifically, plaintiff accuses defendant of,among other behavior, abusing his authority, harassing plaintiff and "knowingly present[ing] himself pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 912 in a false personalization of then President George. W. Bush." Id. at 1-2. Defendant moves to dismiss the complaint under Rules 12(b)(1), (b)(2), (b)(4), (b)(5) and (b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Upon consideration of the parties' submissions and the entire record, the Court finds no basis for subject matter jurisdiction and, hence, grants defendant's motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), albeit for reasons different from those advanced by defendant.

I. BACKGROUND

The complaint stems from plaintiff's apparent frustration with the process for filing a claim with FEMA for disaster relief following Hurricane Rita. Allegedly, plaintiff "was in contact with a Herman Jackson who was helping [him]" when "red tape and politics" got in the way. Compl. at 2. Plaintiff contacted Jackson's supervisor, Brian Thompson, "to try and get to the bottom of the problems." Id. "The defendant came into play after the plaintiff told [] Thompson that if he did not do his job like he was suppose to . . . the plaintiff would have to fly to Washington, D.C. and speak with the President about these problems that FEMA will not fix." Id. at 3. Thompson reported what he considered to be "a threat" to defendant who, in turn, contacted plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff alleges that defendant accused him "of improper gramm[a]r on documents and state[d] that [plaintiff] printed a letterhead of FEMA on to a FEMA document," id., the latter of which apparently led to plaintiff's conviction for filing a false claim in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 287. See Compl. at 1; Def.'s Ex. A [Dkt. No. 16-2] (Plea Agreement).

Plaintiff commenced this action on March 5, 2009, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, which transferred the case to this Court by Order of March 20, 2009. He seeks an unspecified amount of "compensation." Compl. at 5.

II. DISCUSSION

The Court is required to dismiss an action "at any time" it finds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). As a general rule applicable here, this Court has jurisdiction over "all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States," 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or those "where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between--(1) citizens of different States[,]" 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

Plaintiff's harassment claim against Powers does not present a federal question under § 1331, and he cannot bring a private right of action based on defendant's alleged criminal behavior. See Rockefeller v. U.S. Court of Appeals Office, for Tenth Circuit, 248 F.Supp.2d 17, 22 (D.D.C. 2003) (finding that "the plaintiff is precluded from asserting any claims pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 242 . . . because, as criminal statutes, they do not convey a private right of action.").*fn1

In addition, plaintiff's failure to plead the requisite dollar amount in controversy and facts establishing that the parties are citizens of different states forecloses any claims of diversity jurisdiction under § 1332.

For the foregoing reasons, the Court grants defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). A separate Order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.


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