United States District Court, District of Columbia
Ketanji Brown Jackson United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on its review of plaintiff's
pro se complaint and application for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis. For the reasons explained
below, the in forma pauperis application will be
granted and this case will be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A, which requires immediate dismissal of a
prisoner's complaint that fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.
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 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Plaintiff is a Nebraska state
prisoner. He alleges that in 2015, pursuant to the False
Claims Act (“FCA”), 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et
seq., he submitted a qui tam complaint to the
Department of Justice (“DOJ”) against the
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
(“NDHHS”). According to plaintiff, that state
agency “solicit[ed] funds from the federal government
to assist those recipients on ADC . . . in rising above the
poverty line, but diverted the funds for . . . uses other
than what they were designed to address.” Compl. ¶
11. Allegedly, in response to plaintiff's recent inquiry
to DOJ, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(“HHS”) informed him “that an investigation
would not be conducted and dismissed the
case.” Id. ¶ 15. Plaintiff claims
that he “is entitled to pursue a qui tam
action pursuant to law, ” and that defendants'
conduct “represents a collaboration and conspiracy to
violate [his] constitutional rights, by depriving him of an
opportunity to recover at least 15% of all fines and
penalties collected from the NDHHS for their fraudulent
activity.” Id. ¶¶ 17-18. Therefore,
plaintiff demands “compensation of at least 15% of all
fines and penalties collected from the NDHHS . . . between
1987 to the present” and punitive damages. Id.
authorizes “[a] person [to] bring a civil action . . .
for the person and for the United States Government[,
]” but “[t]he action shall be brought in the name
of the Government.” 31 U.S.C. § 3730. Therefore,
it is established in this circuit that “pro se
parties may not pursue [qui tam] actions on behalf
of the United States.” Walker v. Nationstar Mortg.
LLC, 142 F.Supp.3d 63, 65 (D.D.C. 2015) (quoting
U.S. ex rel. Fisher v. Network Software Assocs., 377
F.Supp.2d 195, 196-97 (D.D.C. 2005); see Canen v. Wells
Fargo Bank, N.A., 118 F.Supp.3d 164, 170 (D.D.C. 2015)
(noting that “courts in this jurisdiction consistently
have held that pro se plaintiffs . . . are not
adequately able to represent the interests of the United
States”) (citing cases). As the court explained in
Fisher, “a qui tam relator has an
interest in the action, ” but the United States is the
real party in interest “regardless of whether the
government chooses to intervene.” 377 F.Supp.2d at 198
(following Rockefeller v. Westinghouse Elec. Co.,
274 F.Supp.2d 10, 12 (D.D.C. 2003)). And “[b]ecause 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.'”
Id. at 198 (quoting Rockefeller, 274
F.Supp.2d at 16). Consequently, while plaintiff has every
right to “plead and conduct [his] own case[ ]
personally, ” 28 U.S.C. § 1654, he has neither a
constitutional nor a statutory right to pursue the claims of
the United States without counsel.
addition, the United States Attorney General has absolute
discretion in deciding whether to investigate claims for
possible criminal or civil prosecution, and such decisions
are generally not subject to judicial review.
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes v. Reno, 56 F.3d 1476,
1480-81 (D.C. Cir. 1995); see Wightman-Cervantes v.
Mueller, 750 F.Supp.2d 76, 80 (D.D.C. 2010) (“[A]n
agency's decision whether to prosecute, investigate, or
enforce has been recognized as purely discretionary and not
subject to judicial review.”) (citing Block v.
SEC, 50 F.3d 1078, 1081-82 (D.C. Cir. 1995) (other
citation omitted)). Consequently, to the extent that
plaintiff is challenging HHS' alleged decision not to
pursue his qui tam claim, he has not identified any
authority that provides for judicial review. A separate order
of dismissal accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.
 Plaintiff refers to an attachment
“marked exhibit # 1, ” but the complaint contains