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NDABA v. Obama

March 23, 2010


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

Re Document Nos.: 4, 13




This matter comes before the court on the defendants' motion to dismiss. The pro se plaintiff, an individual "who is opposed to [the] U.S. government supporting, providing, endorsing and using the experimental HPV*fn2 vaccine in [the] Washington DC public school system on female children[]," brought suit seeking to invalidate the use of taxpayer funds to support the distribution of the HPV vaccine to female public school students in the District of Columbia. The defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of standing. Because the court concludes that the plaintiff lacks standing, it grants the defendants' motion to dismiss.


The plaintiff commenced this suit on January 16, 2009, claiming that the defendants are responsible for the distribution of HPV vaccines to female schoolchildren in the District of Columbia, the majority of whom are African-American. See generally Compl. The plaintiff asserts that the defendants' conduct violates the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. See generally id. On June 15, 2009, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of standing, see generally Defs.' Mot., which the plaintiff opposed on July 29, 2009, see generally Pl.'s Opp'n. The defendants filed a reply in support of their motion to dismiss on August 17, 2009. See Defs.' Reply. The court turns now to the applicable legal standard and the parties' arguments.


A. Legal Standard for Standing

Article III of the Constitution limits the jurisdiction of federal courts to cases or controversies. U.S. CONST. art. III, § 2, cl. 1.These prerequisites reflect the "common understanding of what it takes to make a justiciable case." Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 102 (1998). Consequently, "a showing of standing is an essential and unchanging predicate to any exercise of a court's jurisdiction." Fla. Audubon Soc'y v. Bentsen, 94 F.3d 658, 663 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (citing Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992)). Put slightly differently, "Article III standing must be resolved as threshold matter." Raytheon Co. v. Ashborn Agencies, Ltd., 372 F.3d 451, 453 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (citing Steel Co., 523 U.S. at 96-102).

As the party invoking federal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing standing. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 561; Steel Co., 523 U.S. at 104; City of Waukesha v. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 320 F.3d 228, 233 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (per curiam). The extent of the plaintiff's burden varies according to the procedural posture of the case. Sierra Club v. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 292 F.3d 895, 898-99 (D.C. Cir. 2002). At the pleading stage, general factual allegations of injury resulting from the defendant's conduct will suffice. Id. On a motion for summary judgment, however, the "plaintiff can no longer rest on such mere allegations, but must set forth by affidavit or other evidence specific facts which for purposes of the summary judgment motion will be taken to be true." Id. at 899 (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 56); accord Fla. Audubon, 94 F.3d at 666.

To demonstrate standing, a plaintiff must satisfy a three-pronged test. Sierra Club, 292 F.3d at 898 (citing Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560). First, the plaintiff must have suffered an injury in fact, defined as a harm that is concrete and actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical. Byrd v. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 174 F.3d 239, 243 (D.C. Cir. 1999) (citing Steel Co., 523 U.S. at 103). Second, the injury must be fairly traceable to the governmental conduct alleged. Id. Finally, it must be likely that the requested relief will redress the alleged injury. Id. This Circuit has made clear that no standing exists if the plaintiff's allegations are "purely speculative[, which is] the ultimate label for injuries too implausible to support standing." Tozzi v. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 271 F.3d 301, 307 (D.C. Cir. 2001). Nor does standing exist where the court "would have to accept a number of very speculative inferences and assumptions in any endeavor to connect the alleged injury with [the challenged conduct]." Winpisinger v. Watson, 628 F.2d 133, 139 (D.C. Cir. 1980).

B. The Court Grants the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

The defendants argue that the plaintiff lacks standing because he has "failed to allege that [he] has suffered, or imminently will suffer, a personal injury as a result of the distribution of an HPV vaccine in Washington, D.C. public schools." Defs.' Mot. at 4. At most, the defendants contend, the plaintiff has asserted claims on behalf of third parties -- female schoolchildren in the District of Columbia -- who are not before the court. Id. ...

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