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Hunter v. Board of Real Property Tax Assessment and Appeals

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


August 19, 2010

M. BEVERLY HUNTER PLAINTIFF,
v.
BOARD OF REAL PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT AND APPEALS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

M. Beverly Hunter, proceeding pro se, brings this action against the District of Columbia's Board of Real Property Tax Assessment and Appeals, the District of Columbia's City Council, and the District of Columbia (collectively, "District of Columbia," or "District"). Hunter recites many grievances, some against entities and persons not a party to this suit, and asks this Court to address them. Hunter's primary claim, however, is that the District's tax assessments of her properties are incorrect and that her "civil liberties [and] human rights" have been violated. Compl. ¶ 1 She requests damages and an order requiring the District to reduce her taxes. Before the Court is the District's motion to dismiss [#4], in which the District argues that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Hunter's claims. Upon consideration of the motion, the opposition thereto, and the record of this case, the Court concludes that the motion should be granted.

I.

Hunter, a District of Columbia resident, alleges that the District violated her "civil liberties[,] human rights . . . [and her] freedom to own real property" in refusing to lower her "property taxes by one-half," Compl. ¶ 1, and that it "false[ly]-assessed" her tax liability for her properties, id. ¶ 12.*fn1 She contends that the District committed "injury causing torts to [her] mind and thoughts" in increasing its valuations. Id.

Hunter requests that the Court enjoin the District from "raising [her] real property taxes forever with a cap" and order that her real property taxes and those of a fellow resident be lowered by "one-half of the amount for the past five years." Id. ¶ 11.*fn2 Her complaint includes both a request for $95,000 and a request for "over fifty thousand dollar[s]" in damages for the harm she suffered from the District's alleged violations of her rights. Id. ¶ 12.

II.

The District argues that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Hunter's complaint because the District of Columbia courts have exclusive jurisdiction over challenges to District of Columbia tax assessments.*fn3 The Court ordered Hunter to respond to the District's motion. See April 19, 2010 Order Directing Plaintiff to Respond to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss [#5]. Hunter has not filed a substantive response to the District's motion or to its contention that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over her claims. In her complaint, however, Hunter generally alleges that the Court has jurisdiction "to order the District Government . . . to comply" with her requests. Compl. ¶ 1.

Under the laws of the District of Columbia, the "jurisdiction of the Tax Division of the [District of Columbia] Superior Court to review the validity and amount of all assessments of tax made by the District of Columbia is exclusive." D.C. Code § 11-1202. The D.C. Circuit has explained that "Congress unambiguously intended to vest in the District of Columbia courts exclusive jurisdiction over all challenges to District of Columbia taxes including those involving federal statutory or constitutional claims." Jenkins v. Washington Convention Ctr., 236 F.3d 6, 11 (D.C. Cir. 2001). See also Fernebok v. Dist. of Columbia, 534 F. Supp. 2d 25, 29 (D.D.C. 2008), aff'd, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 13611 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (noting that disputes of District of Columbia tax assessments "are by statute not within federal jurisdiction"). The District of Columbia courts have exclusive jurisdiction over Hunter's request to modify her tax assessments and her related demand for damages. The Court therefore dismisses the claims pertaining to Hunter's tax assessments for lack of jurisdiction.*fn4

III.

For the foregoing reasons, the Court concludes that the District's motion to dismiss [#4] shall be granted. All other pending motions are denied as moot. An appropriate order accompanies this memorandum opinion.


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