United States District Court, D. Columbia
WALKER, Plaintiff, Pro se, Abingdon, MD.
WALKER, Plaintiff, Pro se, Abingdon, MD.
NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE LLC, Defendant: Andrew F. Lopez, LEAD
ATTORNEY, MCGUIREWOODS LLP, Charlotte, NC.
WELLS FARGO BANK, NA, Defendant: Douglas B. Riley, LEAD
ATTORNEY, TREANOR POPE & HUGHES, Towson, MD.
S. CHUTKAN, United States District Judge.
Pro se plaintiffs Jovan and David Walker bring this
action against the following defendants: Nationstar Mortgage,
LLC; Wells Fargo Bank, NA; Citibank, NA; Buonassissi, Henning
& Lash, PC; Robert E. Kelly, Esquire; Richard A. Lash; Barry
K. Bedford, and Does 1-10. The basis of
Plaintiffs' sixty-seven page complaint is the alleged
illegal foreclosure of their property located in Abingdon,
Maryland. Plaintiffs assert claims pursuant to the False
Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq., and the
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692
et seq. (Compl. at pp. 32, 52). Plaintiffs also
purport to bring claims for the alleged violation of a
Consent Judgment signed by multiple financial entities,
including defendants Wells Fargo and Citibank in United
States v. Bank of America, 12-cv-361-RMC (D.D.C 2012).
(Compl. at ¶ ¶ 2, 18-20, 61). Finally, Plaintiffs
appear to raise various state law claims, (Compl. at pp. 32,
37, 43, 47-49, 50), and a due process claim. (Compl. at pp.
before the court are motions to dismiss by both Nationstar
and Wells Fargo. For the reasons set forth below, the
court will dismiss this action in its entirety.
FALSE CLAIMS ACT
Nationstar and Wells Fargo seek dismissal of Plaintiffs'
claims brought pursuant to the False Claims Act (FCA), 31
U.S.C. § 3729 et seq. Such suits are also
called qui tam actions and, as the Defendants
correctly point out, pro se parties may not pursue
these actions on behalf of the United States.
In Rockefeller v. Westinghouse Elec. Co., 274
F.Supp.2d 10, 12 (D.D.C. 2003), this Court held that a
relator in a qui tam action under the FCA may not
proceed pro se. Judge Walton explained that although
a qui tam relator has an interest in the action, the
real party in interest in such a case is the United States,
regardless of whether the government chooses to intervene.
Id. at 16 (citing United States v. Onan,
190 F.2d 1, 4, 6 (8th Cir. 1951) and Zissler v. Regents
of Univ. of Minn., 154 F.3d 870, 872 (8th Cir. 1998)).
Because the outcome of such an action could have claim-or
issue-preclusive effect on the United States, " [t]he
need for adequate legal representation on behalf of the
United States is obviously essential." Rockefeller
v. Westinghouse Elec. Co., 274 F.Supp.2d at 16. In this
respect qui tam suits are analogous to class actions
and shareholder derivative suits, where courts have required
persons suing on behalf of others to retain counsel. See
id. (citing Phillips v. Tobin, 548 F.2d 408,
411 (2d Cir. 1976) (holding that a stockholder cannot
represent the corporation without an attorney) and
Oxendine v. Williams, 509 F.2d 1405, 1407 (4th Cir.
1975) (holding that qualified counsel is needed to adequately
represent the interests of the class)).
U.S. ex rel. Fisher v. Network Software Assocs., 377
F.Supp.2d 195, 196-97 (D.D.C. 2005).
their response, Plaintiffs do not address the issue of
whether they are permitted to bring a FCA claim pro
se. Instead, they point to the FCA provision which
[a] person may bring a civil action for a violation of [the
FCA] for the person and for the United States Government. The
action shall be brought in the name of the Government. The
action may be dismissed only if the court and the Attorney
General give written consent to the dismissal and their
reasons for consenting.
31 U.S.C.A. § 3730(b)(1) (emphasis added); (
see ECF No. 10 at p. 1). Plaintiffs also assert a
general right to proceed pro se in federal court. (
See id. ) (citing Faretta v. California,
422 U.S. 806, 95 S.Ct. 2525, 45 L.Ed.2d 562 (1975)).
response fails to address the problem identified by the
Defendants. While the FCA allows " a person" to
bring an action on behalf of the United States, Plaintiffs
have not cited any legal authority which provides that a
pro se person has the same authority. Because
Plaintiffs have not set forth a viable argument as to why
this court should not follow the precedent in this District
that the court finds persuasive, and that prohibits pro
se parties from bringing FCA claims, the court will
dismiss the claim without prejudice. See U.S. ex
rel. Fisher v. Network Software Assocs., 377 F.Supp.2d
195, 197 (D.D.C. 2005) (" Relator has offered no reason
why this Court should not follow [the precedent in this
district] and the Court sees none. The Court therefore holds
that plaintiff may not maintain this suit as a qui
tam relator without the assistance of counsel." ).