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Watson v. Faris

United States District Court, D. Columbia

October 16, 2015

RONALD M. FARIS, et al., Defendants

          RONALD EUGENE WATSON, Plaintiff, Pro se, Accokeek, MD.


         For LINDA M. BELL, NANCY L. ORING, Defendants: Ira L. Oring, LEAD ATTORNEY, Jay Abarbanel, FEDDER & GARTEN PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION, Baltimore, MD.


         JAMES E. BOASBERG, United States District Judge.

          Pro se Plaintiff Ronald Watson has filed this largely incomprehensible suit against approximately 25 Defendants arising out of the foreclosure of his residential property. Among the many defects in his Amended Complaint that Defendants' several Motions to Dismiss point out is Watson's failure to sufficiently make out any federal claim. As the Court therefore lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over any purported state causes of action, it will dismiss the case without prejudice. If he so chooses, Plaintiff may refile in the appropriate state court and pursue his theories there.

         I. Background

         Watson filed his initial Complaint in this matter on July 21, 2015. He opaquely entitled it " Complaint: Objection for Lack of Ratification of Commencement." Compl. at 1. The pleading names 22 Defendants and alludes to Plaintiff's being a " living, breathing, natural born, free man on the soil, Sovereign American, sui juris, per Title 4 U.S. Code § 8 (j). The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing." Id. at 2. The cursory Complaint alleges no cause of action whatsoever, but attaches documents as exhibits that reference a residential foreclosure. The Court thus assumes this is the grievance that drives the suit.

         Confounded by such a Complaint, the Court, in a July 27, 2015, Minute Order sua sponte ordered Watson to show cause why the case should not be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Apparently crossing in the mail was his First Amended Complaint, docketed the next day, which added four other Defendants, but nothing of substance as far as allegations. See ECF No. 4. On August 14, 2015, " Plaintiff's Reply to Support Jurisdiction" was docketed, which stated, " This case involves the illegal act of foreclosure under the RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations] Act, by Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC, Judge Toni E. Clarke of Prince George's County Maryland Civil Division, various attorneys and other cohorts, on my personal property located at 15021 Fort Trail, Accoceek, MD 20607." Id. at 8. This pleading then proceeded to cut and paste various quotes from federal criminal statutes. See id. at 9-11.

         Perhaps believing discretion to be the better part of valor, the Court issued another Minute Order on August 24, 2015, indicating that it was loath to dismiss sua sponte and inviting Defendants to move to dismiss. A number of them have now done so. See ECF Nos. 8, 11, 13.

         II. Legal Standard

         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." When the sufficiency of a complaint is challenged under Rule 12(b)(6), the factual allegations presented in it must be presumed true and should be liberally construed in plaintiff's favor. Leatherman v. Tarrant Cty. Narcotics & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164, 113 S.Ct. 1160, 122 L.Ed.2d 517 (1993). Although the notice-pleading rules are " not meant to impose a great burden on a plaintiff," Dura Pharms., Inc. v. Broudo, 544 U.S. 336, 347, 125 S.Ct. 1627, 161 L.Ed.2d 577 (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, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (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, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (internal quotation omitted). Plaintiff 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 a plaintiff may survive a 12(b)(6) motion even if " recovery is very remote and unlikely," Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (citing Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (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, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992); U.S. Ecology, Inc. v. United States DOI, 231 F.3d 20, 24, 343 U.S.App.D.C. 386 (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 [p]laintiff'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 Pharms., Inc. v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253, 365 U.S.App.D.C. 270 (D.C. Cir. 2005); see also Venetian Casino Resort, L.L.C. v. E.E.O.C., 409 F.3d 359, 366, 366 U.S.App.D.C. 89 (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, 297 U.S.App.D.C. 406 (D.C. Cir. 1992).

         III. Analysis

         In seeking dismissal, assorted Defendants raise different arguments, including lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and failure to state a ...

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