United States District Court, D. Columbia.
KEITH R. CALDWELL, SR., Plaintiff,
BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA II, President of the United States, et al., Defendants
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KEITH R. CALDWELL, SR., Plaintiff, Pro se, St. Petersburg, FL.
BERYL A. HOWELL, United States District Judge.
The plaintiff Keith Caldwell filed this pro se complaint against twenty-three defendants, including federal officials, federal judges, Argosy University, and the university's president, seeking a judgment that they violated his right to due process, their oaths of office, and abused their authority, due to their official actions in connection with previous cases before Judges of this District, this Circuit, the United States Tax Court, and Justices of the United States Supreme Court. For the reasons explained below, the Court dismisses this action sua sponte under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim and under the doctrine of claim preclusion. Furthermore, in light of the plaintiff's repeated filing in this Court of similar suits stemming from the same facts at issue in the instant case, he is enjoined from filing any additional complaints in this Court without obtaining pre-filing leave to do so.
A. Prior Lawsuits Against Various Governmental Officials and Private Parties
The plaintiff brings this lawsuit against President Obama, the Attorney General Eric Holder and the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, three officials with the Internal Revenue Service, twelve Federal and two Tax Court judges, and a private university and the university president arising from actions these individuals have taken in their official capacities regarding claims asserted by the plaintiff for the first time over five years ago. A brief background of the plaintiff's prior lawsuits shows how the claims raised against each defendant have accumulated over the past eight years, as the plaintiff has filed repeated lawsuits stemming from a dispute over his personal tax liability for his tax return filed in 2004, and the plaintiff's disagreement with his former employer.
1. Plaintiff's 2008-2010 Lawsuits in the U.S. . Tax Court, District of Columbia Federal Courts and the Supreme Court
Beginning in 2004, the Internal Revenue Service (" IRS" ) issued two separate deficiency notices to the plaintiff that the amount of taxes paid, as shown on the
plaintiff's return, was less than the actual amount owed. See Caldwell v. Comm'r, No. 2008-77, 2008 WL 2595916, at *1 (T.C. July 1, 2008). The first notice, dated May 9, 2006, reflected a deficiency of $2,296, and the second notice, dated September 20, 2006, showed a deficiency determination of $7,206 related to unreported income, and $1,441 penalty. Id. The plaintiff challenged the IRS' deficiency determination by filing suit in the United States Tax Court. Id. During this proceeding, the plaintiff provided the required documentary evidence to establish his proper calculation of tax liability, and the IRS conceded that the plaintiff properly reported his income for 2004 -- albeit on the wrong line.
[WL] at *2. According to the Tax Court, the IRS " prematurely assessed the deficiency and penalty" even when the plaintiff filed an appropriate petition challenging the assessment, and " issued collection notices, including levy notices, to petitioner between November 2006 and June 2007." Id.
Following a trial, the Tax Court " held the record open" to give the parties additional time to clarify the record. Id. During this post-trial period, the IRS informed the Tax Court, in a status report, that it had sent the plaintiff a " proposed stipulation decision document  reflecting [the IRS'] full concession." [WL] at *2. The Tax Court closed the record and ordered the parties to submit settlement documents, and if they were unable to reach a settlement, the " Court would be inclined to enter a decision of no deficiency and no penalty . . . for taxable year 2004." Id. The plaintiff responded, in his own status report, that he would not agree to the stipulation, but " might seek administrative and litigation costs." Id.
In view of the parties' failure to reach a settlement, the Tax Court provided the plaintiff an opportunity to file a motion for administrative and litigation costs, while cautioning the plaintiff that " only substantiated, out-of-pocket costs could be awarded and instructed him to review" various rules regulating the filing of such a motion. Id. The plaintiff subsequently filed a one-page motion seeking the round-number of $100,000 in administrative and litigation costs.
[WL] at *3. The Tax Court sustained the IRS' objection to the plaintiff's motion, noting that although the plaintiff had succeeded on the merits of his claim regarding his tax liability, he had failed to " provide an itemized statement of costs, fees, and other expenses claimed," as required by the applicable rules, and had failed to address other statutory requirements necessary to be deemed a " prevailing party," under 26 U.S.C.
§ 7430(c)(4). [WL] at *4 n. 10.
In addition to seeking administrative and litigation costs associated with the Tax Court proceeding, the plaintiff requested that the Tax Court order the IRS to return his 2005 income tax refund, which the plaintiff claimed had been seized following receipt of the two notices of deficiency and applied to his income tax liability for tax years 2003 and 2004. [WL] at *3. In denying this request, the court noted that its " jurisdiction is limited to redetermining [the plaintiff's] tax liability for 2004," which was the tax year in dispute in that litigation, and that the court lacked the " authority to order a refund for 2005." Id. (citing Naftel v. Commissioner, 85 T.C. 527, 533 (1985)).
The plaintiff challenged the Tax Court's denial of his request for return of his 2005 tax refund in this Court by filing suit against the Tax Court and its presiding Judge ( Caldwell I Tax Court & Judge) as well as an IRS Commissioner and two IRS employees (" Caldwell I Officials" ). See Compl. (" Caldwell I Compl." ) at 1, Caldwell v. U.S. Tax Court, No. 08-1427 (D.D.C. Aug. 14, 2008). This complaint
alleged a myriad of wrongs, including that the plaintiff's Fifth Amendment rights were violated, id. at 2; the IRS committed larceny of personal property by not returning his 2005 income tax refund, id. at 2, 5; the Tax Court opinion was unsupported by the facts, id. at 3; the Tax Court failed to require the IRS to provide proof that " the 2005 tax refund was not material to the . . . matter," id. at 5; the IRS entered false statements during the trial, id. at 2; and the Tax Court failed to remove the presiding judge, id. The lawsuit was dismissed against the Caldwell I Tax Court & Judge based on the absolute immunity afforded to official judicial acts, and against the Caldwell I Officials because the plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. See Order at 1, Caldwell v. U.S. Tax Court, No. 08-1427 (D.D.C. Apr. 16, 2009), ECF No. 15 (" Caldwell I " ). This decision was affirmed by a panel of the D.C. Circuit. Caldwell v. U.S. Tax Court, 360 F.Appx. 161, 162 (D.C. Cir. 2010) (collectively, the district court and circuit panel judges involved in this case are referred to as the " Caldwell I Judges" ).
The plaintiff petitioned for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court to challenge the dismissal of his suit. See Pet. for Cert., Caldwell v. U.S. Tax Court, No. 09-9137 (U.S. Jan. 25, 2010). Then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan elected not to respond to the petition. According to the plaintiff in his instant complaint, the decision not to respond to the petition was an act of corruption, and led the Supreme Court to deny his petition. See Compl. at 5, ECF No. 1. In the plaintiff's view, by denying the writ, the Supreme Court " decided to deceive, obstruct justice, and . . . hope that the case facts would simply vanish into thin air on Interstate 95." Id. at 5-6.
2. Plaintiff's 2011 Lawsuits in the District of Columbia
Subsequently, in 2011, the plaintiff filed suit against then-Solicitor General Kagan, Attorney General Holder, and the Caldwell I Judges, asserting that they each improperly handled his federal suit against the U.S. Tax Court. See Caldwell v. Kagan, 777 F.Supp.2d 177, 179 (D.D.C. 2011)) (" Caldwell II " ), aff'd, 455 F.Appx. 1 (D.C. Cir. 2011). The plaintiff alleged that by failing to respond to his petition for certiorari, then-Solicitor General Kagan and Attorney General Holder " 'facilitated the Supreme Court's decision to deny my petition for a Writ of Certiorari,' and that the denial of the petition 'denied my constitutional right to due process in that case.'" Id. at 180. The district court reviewing the Caldwell II claims found that the plaintiff lacked standing to bring suit against the executive branch officials and that the federal judges were immune from suit by acting in their judicial capacity. Id. at 179-80. Therefore, the court dismissed the Caldwell II complaint. Id. at 179 (" [P]laintiff's complaint will be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction." ). This decision was affirmed by a second panel of the D.C. Circuit. Caldwell v. Kagan, 455 Fed. App'x 1 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (collectively, the district court judge and the circuit panel involved in this case are referred to as the " Caldwell II Judges" ). Subsequently, the plaintiff filed a second petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme
Court alleging that the Caldwell I and Caldwell II Judges rendered " unsupported and unsubstantiated" decisions. See Pet. for Cert. at 10-14, Caldwell v. Kagan, No. 12-38 (U.S. July 15, 2012). The petition was denied.
In 2011, the plaintiff brought a third suit in this Court but this time against his former employer Argosy University and its president, alleging that they " failed to properly act when he alleged that a student had submitted a fraudulent dissertation, and removed him from the student's dissertation committee," and against the Department of Education for failing to " 'evaluate' Argosy for compliance with regulatory and institutional guidelines.'" Caldwell v. Argosy Univ., 797 F.Supp.2d 25, 27 (D.D.C. 2011) (" Caldwell III " ). The plaintiff alleged that filing the lawsuit against his former employer " 'compelled'" him to " 'sever'" his affiliation with the university. Id. (internal citations omitted). The district court reviewing the Caldwell III complaint determined that it failed to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), since the complaint was " unclear or . . . fail[ed] to give the defendants fair notice of the claims against them." Id. at 28. Specifically, the court noted that the claims against the government agency alleged no harm resulting from government action, and that there was no connection between the cause of action alleged and the facts alleged. Id. at 28. While the defendants requested that the complaint be dismissed with prejudice, " 'because the [plaintiff] is no stranger to litigation,'" the Court dismissed the complaint without prejudice, but cautioned the plaintiff that, if he " file[d] an amended complaint that merely 'recycles' the complaint currently before the Court, it may be dismissed with prejudice." Id. at 28-29 (citing Hamrick v. United States, No. 10-857, 2010 WL 3324721, at *1 (D.D.C. Aug. 24, 2010)).
Following dismissal, the plaintiff did not file an amended complaint, but instead filed a complaint against the district court judge (" Caldwell III District Court Judge" ) with the Department of Justice's Office of Inspector General (" DOJ OIG" ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (" FBI" ) Washington Field Office, and the United States Attorney's Office. See Caldwell v. Kagan (" Caldwell IV " ), 865 F.Supp.2d 35, 40 (D.D.C. 2012). The plaintiff also filed a judicial misconduct complaint against the Caldwell III District Court Judge with the Judicial Council of the District of Columbia Circuit.Id. The Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit " dismissed the complaint before the Judicial Council, and no agency has acted on any of Caldwell's other complaints." Id. ...