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Morris J. Peavey v. United States of America

March 1, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: James E. Boasberg United States District Judge


Pro se Plaintiff Morris Peavey has filed a largely incomprehensible, 33-page, single-spaced Complaint against the United States and seven federal officials. As best the Court can discern, the crux of his claim appears to relate to his treatment by Army officials after he was injured in 1966 while enlisted, the alleged falsification or destruction of his medical records, and Internal Revenue Service liens on his properties. Not surprisingly, this Complaint essentially reprises claims he has previously brought without success both in this District and in the Middle District of Florida. As a result, much of the current suit is barred by the doctrines of claim and issue preclusion, and what remains is insufficient as a matter of law. The Court, therefore, will grant Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.


According to Plaintiff's Complaint, much of his trouble stems from his enlisted term in the United States Army from 1964-67. See Compl. at 4. In particular, events seem to have gone downhill from the moment he was struck as a pedestrian by an automobile in September 1966. Id. The injuries he suffered were not correctly diagnosed, which led him to go "AWOL for proper medical treatment." Id. at 5. Although unfit for military service, he was not released from the Army. Id. Subsequently, the Army and the Department of Veterans Affairs "deliberately and intentionally suppressed [his medical] records." Id. at 7. In addition, the IRS has "consistently harass[ed], coerced, intimidated and illegally place[d] a lien on Peavey Clients['] property falsely alleging a tax collection liability exists." Id. at 8.

As Defendants here, Peavey has named the United States, Attorney General Eric Holder, Army Secretary John McHugh, Veterans Affairs Secretary "E. Sheskni" [sic], National Archives and Records Administration Archivist Adrienne Thomas, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Assistant United States Attorney Michael May, and Freedom of Information Act Agent Jennifer Kaldor. His causes of action (labeled "Charges") assert that he was denied proper medical care and his Army Health Records were altered and destroyed (Count I), id. at 11; his records were destroyed and falsely replaced with others, and he was denied FOIA access (Count II), id. at 16; federal agencies engaged in "reprisal discrimination" by placing "erroneous levies and liens on Peavey's clients['] properties . . . and Peavey's property," and the VA sent his family a fictitious notice of his death (Count III), id. at 21; Peavey was denied access to medical records and acts of medical malpractice were covered up (Count IV), id. at 23; and the VA and DOJ obstructed justice and committed fraud on the court and refused to prosecute violations of Peavey's rights, as well as depriving Peavey's client Mamie Horne of property (Count V). Id. at 25.

Plaintiff filed this Complaint on May 19, 2011, and Defendants have now filed a Motion to Dismiss, asserting numerous infirmities in his suit.

II.Legal Standard

In evaluating Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, the Court must "treat the complaint's factual allegations as true . . . and must grant plaintiff 'the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged.'" Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (quoting Schuler v. United States, 617 F.2d 605, 608 (D.C. Cir. 1979)) (internal citation omitted); see also Jerome Stevens Pharms., Inc. v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C. Cir. 2005). This standard governs the Court's considerations of Defendants' Motion under both Rules 12(b)(6) and 12(b)(1). See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974) ("in passing on a motion to dismiss, whether on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter or for failure to state a cause of action, the allegations of the complaint should be construed favorably to the pleader"); Walker v. Jones, 733 F.2d 923, 925-26 (D.C. Cir. 1984) (same). The Court need not accept as true, however, "a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation," nor an inference unsupported by the facts set forth in the Complaint. Trudeau v. Fed. Trade Comm'n, 456 F.3d 178, 193 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of an action where a complaint fails to "state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Although the notice pleading rules are "not meant to impose a great burden on a plaintiff," Dura Pharm., Inc. v. Broudo, 544 U.S. 336, 347 (2005), and "detailed factual allegations" are not necessary to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (internal quotation omitted). Plaintiffs must put forth "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. Though Plaintiffs may survive a 12(b)(6) motion even if "recovery is very remote and unlikely," Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)), the facts alleged in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 555.

To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), Plaintiff bears the burden of proving that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction to hear his claims. See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992); U.S. Ecology, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Interior, 231 F.3d 20, 24 (D.C. Cir. 2000). A court has an "affirmative obligation to ensure that it is acting within the scope of its jurisdictional authority." Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police v. Ashcroft, 185 F. Supp. 2d 9, 13 (D.D.C. 2001). For this reason, "'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." Id. at 13-14 (quoting 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1350 (2d ed. 1987) (alteration in original)). Additionally, unlike with a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court "may consider materials outside the pleadings in deciding whether to grant a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction." Jerome Stevens, 402 F.3d at 1253; see also Venetian Casino Resort, L.L.C. v. E.E.O.C., 409 F.3d 359, 366 (D.C. Cir. 2005) ("given the present posture of this case - a dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) on ripeness grounds - the court may consider materials outside the pleadings"); Herbert v. Nat'l Academy of Sciences, 974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C. Cir. 1992).


The central argument Defendants assert is that Plaintiff has brought all of these claims before, both in this District and in the Middle District of Florida. As those suits were dismissed, the doctrines of claim and issue preclusion bar this action. The Court will first address this position as it relates to all Defendants except May and Kaldor. It will then consider the case against these two Defendants and, finally, move to a question concerning the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records (ABCMR).

A. Preclusion

In April 2005, Plaintiff filed suit in this District, No. 05-819, and named as defendants the Attorney General, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Archivist of the United States, and Secretary of the Treasury, four of the same defendants named here. See 05-819, ECF No. 1 (Complaint). Just as he has here, he claimed in that suit Constitutional violations under the First, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments; the destruction and suppression of his medical records; harassment by the IRS, including filing a claim against him for back taxes; an unlawful taking of his medical benefits; a denial of access to records; an uncompensated personal injury; an improper death notice; the ...

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