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Emmanuel N. Lazaridis v. Social Security Administration et al

April 19, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge


In this action brought pro se, plaintiff Emmanuel N. Lazaridis sues on behalf of himself, his minor child V.L., and "all others similarly situated." Compl. Caption. He challenges the alleged "unlawful policy" of the Social Security Administration ("SSA") to "suspend[]" or "den[y]" benefits "solely because there may exist an outstanding felony arrest warrant for a person otherwise entitled to such benefits . . . ." Compl. ¶ 1. Mr. Lazaridis seeks declaratory and injunctive relief or a writ of mandamus "against the Commissioner's unlawful policy." Id. In addition, Mr. Lazaridis seeks SSA records under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. 552, about "him or V.L. . . . concerning their interest in the entitlement benefits accruing to them through their relation to . . . V.L.'s mother ("X") . . . ." Id. ¶ 2. Finally, Mr. Lazaridis purports to sue ten unknown "rogue" federal employees under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) for constitutional violations stemming from the alleged unlawful withholding of SSA benefits. Id. ¶¶ 9, 111-12.

Defendants (hereafter SSA) move to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. # 9]. Upon consideration of the parties' submissions, and for the reasons that follow, the Court will (1) grant the motion to dismiss the claims brought on behalf of V.L. and the "similarly situated" individuals under Rule 12(b)(1); (2) grant the motion to dismiss the SSA benefits and Bivens claims under Rule 12(b)(6); and (3) deny the motion to dismiss the FOIA claim based solely on the fugitive disentitlement doctrine.


As recounted by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in an action involving V.L.'s custody:

Lazaridis currently resides in Greece with his daughter, V.L. . . . . Lazaridis and [ex-wife Lavina] Wehmer were married in 1995 in Indiana, and V.L. was born in July 2000. In February 2002, the family moved to Wilmington, Delaware. And in May 2002, they moved to Lyon, France. However, in September 2002, Wehmer moved V.L. to Michigan (where Wehmer's family lives). Lazaridis then initiated divorce proceedings in Michigan and France. In November 2002, the Ottawa County Court in Michigan granted temporary custody to Lazaridis, and it is unclear what happened immediately thereafter. However, at some point, Lazaridis took V.L. to Greece, where they still reside.

Lazaridis v. Wehmer, 288 Fed. Appx. 800, 801 (3d Cir. 2008) (footnote omitted).

Mr. Lazaridis' SSA Benefits Claim

On August 18, 2010, Mr. Lazaridis commenced this action -- his third in this Court -- alleging, among other wrongs, that the "SSA has shockingly permitted [his and V.L's] claims . . . for spousal and dependent child benefits . . . to remain pending and without resolution or certification of payments since June 2007." Compl. ¶ 3. He claims that said benefits are owed "from February 2002 onwards." Id.

According to a declaration supplied by the SSA and corroborated in pertinent part by the complaint's allegations, V.L.'s mother, Ms. Wehmer, applied for disability insurance benefits on February 24, 2003, and, upon her entitlement to said benefits, V.L. became entitled to child's benefits. Reply in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss, Decl. of Melissa Pringle ("Pringle Decl.") [Dkt. # 13-1] ¶ 3. V.L received "a protective filing date of February 24, 2002[,] [which] ensured that if an application were filed on V.L.'s behalf and approved, V.L. would receive retroactive benefits dating back to the protective filing [date]." Id.

On June 5, 2007, Mr. Lazaridis faxed a letter to the Regional Federal Benefits Office in Athens, Greece, inquiring about V.L.'s benefits. Id. ¶ 6. On July 3, 2007, that office informed Mr. Lazaridis that "V.L. was protected as of February 2002, under the numberholder's [Wehmer] record[,]" and that V.L. could receive benefits retroactively if an application were filed on V.L's behalf. Id. ¶ 7. The letter included filing instructions, "notified Mr. Lazaridis that there was a pending warrant for his arrest[,] and requested that he provide evidence showing that the warrant had been resolved." Id. On August 2, 2007, Ms. Wehmer filed a claim for child's benefits on V.L.'s behalf. Id. ¶ 8. Thus, when Mr. Lazaridis submitted another application in September 2007, "it was not necessary to enter a second claim into the processing system." Id. ¶ 9; see Compl., Ex. A (SSA Letter stating same).

On September 17, 2007, SSA informed Mr. Lazaridis that his "application for Child's Benefits on behalf of V.L. had been received along with his form SSA-21, Supplement to Claim of a Person Outside of the United States, and only the first page of form SSA-11BK, Request to be Selected as Payee, filed by Marina Fanioudaki." Pringle Decl. ¶ 10. On October 2, 2009, Mr. Lazaridis inquired about the status of the claim filed on V.L.'s behalf. "He noted that he had not filed an application to be [V.L's] representative payee and that he had not filed any application for benefits on his own behalf," but "that he wanted the letter to serve as an application for both husband's benefits and to be V.L.'s representative payee. Because Mr. Lazaridis did not file the proper forms and provide the required information to process his requests, [the letter] [was] not considered [a] valid application[]." Id. ¶ 12; see Compl. ¶ 83 (stating that "the plaintiff applied for spousal benefits on his own behalf and for designation as his child's representative payee" on October 2, 2009).

On December 3, 2010, Mr. Lazaridis submitted to the Athens regional office an application to serve as representative payee for V.L. and an application for spousal benefits, which are being processed. See Pringle Decl. ΒΆΒΆ 14-18. "V.L.'s benefits have been placed in delayed status," but they "continue[] to accrue" from February 24, 2002, and ...

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