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Voinche v. Obama

September 29, 2010

WOODY VOINCHE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT,*FN1 ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Emmet G. Sullivan United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Pending before the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss or, alternatively, motion to dismiss and for summary judgment. Upon consideration of the motion, the response and reply thereto, the applicable law, the entire record, and for the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Woody Voinche, pro se, "is a private citizen who has filed numerous lawsuits for personal information and for information on the activities of government officials that is unconstitutional[.]" Compl. ¶ 3; see also Defs.' Mem. at 1 n.1 (explaining that this is plaintiff's eighteenth lawsuit against federal government agencies and officers). Plaintiff, who is seeking "records that were in the possession of the White House and Executive Office of the President and National Archives," Compl. ¶ 3, brings this action against former President George W. Bush; President Barack Obama; the Executive Office of the President ("EOP"); the Office of Administration of the EOP ("OA"); the Head of the OA, in his official capacity; the National Archives and Records Administration ("NARA"); the Archivist of the United States ("Archivist"), in her official capacity; United States Attorney General Eric Holder (the "Attorney General"); and ten unknown federal and state agents (collectively, "defendants"). Compl. ¶¶ 4-12. Plaintiff asserts causes of action under the Presidential Records Act ("PRA"), 44 U.S.C. § 2201 et seq.; the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. §§ 702, 703, 704, and 706; the Federal Records Act ("FRA"), 44 U.S.C. § 2101 et seq., including the Disposal of Records Act ("DRA"), 44 U.S.C. §§ 3301-3314; 18 U.S.C. § 3504 (concerning sources of evidence in criminal cases); the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act ("OCCSSA"), 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510-20; the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ("FISA"), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1801-62; "every Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, including but not limited to the 1st, 4th, 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendments"; Misprision of a Felony, 18 U.S.C. § 4; the Federal Tort Claims Act("FTCA"); the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552; the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a; and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 ("the Civil Rights Acts"). Plaintiff also asserts a "Bivens action for violation of Plaintiff's rights under 1st, 4th, 5th, 8th, and other amendments to the Constitution," and "is challenging as contrary to law the knowing failure of the defendants to recover, restore, and preserve certain electronic records and prevent erasure of emails, telephone records, voice mail, interagency or intraagency records, wiretaps, or any other records concerning the numerous emails the Plaintiff sent to the Bush or Obama administration on the subject of the FBI lawsuits and the surveillance of the Plaintiff and release of a toxic substance or any other lawsuits that Plaintiff has filed concerning this subject[.]" Compl. ¶¶ 1, 2.*fn2

In response to plaintiff's complaint, defendants filed a motion to dismiss or, alternatively, motion to dismiss and for summary judgment. Plaintiff opposes this motion. Defendants' motion is now ripe for determination by the Court.

II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

A. Rule 12(b)(1)

On a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that the court has jurisdiction. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992). Because subject matter jurisdiction focuses on the court's power to hear a claim, the court must give the plaintiff's factual allegations closer scrutiny when resolving a Rule 12(b)(1) motion than would be required for a Rule 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim. Macharia v. United States, 334 F.3d 61, 64, 69 (D.C. Cir. 2003). Thus, to determine whether it has jurisdiction over a claim, the court may consider materials outside the pleadings where necessary to resolve disputed jurisdictional facts. Herbert v. Nat'l Acad. of Sciences, 974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C. Cir. 1992).

B. Rule 12(b)(6)

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir. 2002). A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). "'[W]hen ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint[,]'" Atherton v. D.C. Office of the Mayor, 567 F.3d 672, 681 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)), and grant the plaintiff "the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged." Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994). A court must not, however, "accept inferences drawn by plaintiffs if such inferences are unsupported by the facts set out in the complaint. Nor must the court accept legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations." Id. In addition, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). "[O]nly a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. A complaint must therefore plead "'factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'" Atherton, 567 F.3d at 681 (quoting Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949). This, in turn, "asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully"; a complaint alleging facts that are "'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability . . . 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

C. Summary Judgment

Rule 56 permits the Court to grant summary judgment only if the moving party has shown that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986); Waterhouse v. District of Columbia, 298 F. 3d 989, 991 (D.C. Cir. 2002). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must view all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). To survive a motion for summary judgment, plaintiff cannot merely rely on the unsupported allegations of the complaint, and must present more than the "mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in his favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986).

D. Pro se Litigants

The pleadings of pro se parties are "to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). But "although a court will read a pro se plaintiff's complaint liberally," a pro se complaint, no less than any other complaint, "must present a claim on which the Court can grant relief." Chandler v. Roche, 215 F. Supp. 2d 166, 168 (D.D.C. 2002) (citing Crisafi v. Holland, 655 F.2d 1305, 1308 (D.C. Cir. 1981)). Because pro se litigants are afforded a more lenient pleading standard, their failure to respond to an argument is not construed as a concession unless they have been advised of ...


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