United States District Court, District of Columbia
E. BOASBERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Hudson, Jr. is the National Secretary Treasurer for the
American Federation of Government Employees. Hoping to grasp
the brass ring, Hudson has declared his candidacy for the
presidency of AFGE, which election will take place next
summer. In this suit, he alleges that, at a February 2017
conference, AFGE officials improperly removed from
attendees' materials a publication he wished to
distribute, thereby violating the Labor-Management Reporting
and Disclosure Act. Pointing out that Plaintiff himself has
rejected the characterization of such publication as
“campaign literature, ” which is all the LMRDA
protects, AFGE now moves to dismiss. The Court agrees and
will grant the Motion.
setting forth the facts, the Court, as it must at this
juncture of the case, treats the allegations in the Complaint
as true. AFGE is a national labor organization with over 1000
affiliated local unions, and Hudson was elected as its
National Secretary Treasurer (NST) for consecutive three-year
terms in 2012 and 2015. See Compl., ¶¶ 2,
5. “In December 2016[, ] he announced that he would be
a candidate for the position of National President, [which
post is] . . . currently held by . . . J. David Cox.”
Id., ¶ 7. In the NST role, Plaintiff issued a
quarterly publication entitled “NST ADVISOR.”
Id., ¶ 8. The Fall 2016 edition spans 16 pages
and includes an opening “Welcome” by Plaintiff,
information about his “travels to AFGE affiliates,
” a “description of [his] trip to South Africa,
” and other articles. Id. & Exh. 1. The
Complaint plainly asserts that “[t]he Fall 2016 NST
ADVISOR was not published as campaign literature.”
Id., ¶ 9.
February 2017, “AFGE conducted a legislative
conference” here in Washington, and attendees
“received material related to the conference and
material prepared by various AFGE officers and
officials.” Id., ¶ 10. Among those
distributing such packets was Hudson, who included the Fall
2016 NST ADVISOR in his materials. Id., ¶ 11.
This effort, however, was stymied when, “[o]n the eve
of the conference, AFGE employees were instructed to remove
the . . . ADVISOR from the package of material to be
distributed.” Id., ¶ 13. According to
Plaintiff, this occurred because AFGE deemed such
distribution “an improper use of AFGE funds to promote
NST Hudson's candidacy.” Id., ¶ 14.
brief Complaint alleges that these facts support its one
count, which is a violation of an LMRDA provision, 29 U.S.C.
§ 481(c), which prohibits certain forms of
discrimination in favor of or against any candidate.
Id., ¶ 16. As relief, Hudson asks that the
Court “conclude that AFGE violated his rights as a
candidate for AFGE office, ” pay his costs and fees
incurred in this suit, and “[a]ward such other legal
and equitable relief as it deems just and proper.”
Id. at 5. AFGE has now moved to dismiss.
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.” In evaluating
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, the Court must
“treat the complaint's factual allegations as true
. . . and must grant plaintiff ‘the benefit of all
inferences that can be derived from the facts
alleged.'” Sparrow v. United Air Lines,
Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (quoting
Schuler v. United States, 617 F.2d 605, 608 (D.C.
Cir. 1979)) (citation omitted); see also Jerome Stevens
Pharms., Inc. v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1250 (D.C. Cir.
2005). The pleading rules are “not meant to impose a
great burden upon a plaintiff, ” Dura Pharm., Inc.
v. Broudo, 544 U.S. 336, 347 (2005), and she must thus
be given every favorable inference that may be drawn from the
allegations of fact. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 584 (2007).
“detailed factual allegations” are not necessary
to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, id. at 555,
“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 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). The Court need not accept
as true, then, “a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation, ” nor an inference unsupported by the facts
set forth in the Complaint. Trudeau v. Fed. Trade
Comm'n, 456 F.3d 178, 193 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (quoting
Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)
(internal quotation marks omitted)). For a plaintiff to
survive a 12(b)(6) motion even if “recovery is very
remote and unlikely, ” the facts alleged in the
complaint “must be enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555-56 (citing Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S.
232, 236 (1974)).
standard to survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1)
is less forgiving. Under this Rule, 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 (1992); U.S. Ecology,
Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Interior, 231 F.3d 20, 24
(D.C. Cir. 2000). A court also 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, 402 F.3d at 1253; see also Venetian Casino
Resort, L.L.C. v. E.E.O.C., 409 F.3d 359, 366 (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”).
seeking dismissal here, AFGE contends that the Complaint is
deficient both jurisdictionally and on the merits. The Court
takes each point in turn.
III of the United States Constitution limits the jurisdiction
of the federal courts to resolving “Cases” and
“Controversies.” U.S. Const. art. III, § 2,
cl. 1. A party's standing “is an essential and
unchanging part of the case-or-controversy requirement of
Article III.” Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560. To
establish standing, a party must, at a constitutional
minimum, meet the following criteria. First, the plaintiff
“must have suffered an ‘injury in fact' - an
invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a)
concrete and particularized . . . and (b) ‘actual or
imminent, not ‘conjectural' or
‘hypothetical.'” Id. (citations
omitted). Second, “there must be a causal connection
between the injury and the conduct complained of - the injury
has to be ‘fairly . . . trace[able] to the challenged
action of the defendant, and not . . . th[e] result [of] the
independent action of some third party not before the
court.'” Id. (alterations in original)
(citation omitted). Third, “it must be ...