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Brown v. Mattis

United States District Court, District of Columbia

December 7, 2018

JAMES MATTIS, Defendant.



         The pro se plaintiff, Victor Ivy Brown, sues the Secretary of Defense for money damages and declaratory relief. This action is “spawned” from the plaintiff's prior employment discrimination case in this court, Compl. at 2, ECF No. 1 (citing Brown v. Dep't of the Navy, No. 86-cv-1582 (closed Oct. 1, 1987) (“Brown I”), where he prevailed against the Department of Navy and was awarded injunctive relief and “gross damages of $121, 706.64, ” Brown v. United States, No. 14-1185T, 2015 WL 4450109, at *1 (Fed. Cl. July 17, 2015). In this case, the plaintiff “seeks to recover the sum of $11, 849.24” that the defendant allegedly “seized” from the award “and then used . . . to pay taxes and penalties for which the [p]laintiff was not obligated.” Compl. at 2. The plaintiff “further seeks compensatory damages for loss of the use of said monies retroactive to 7 April 1988.” Id.

         Pending is the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), ECF No. 19, and the Plaintiff's Opposition and Motion to Compel an Answer from the defendant, ECF Nos. 29, 30, respectively. For the reasons explained below, the defendant's motion is granted, the plaintiff's motion is denied, and this case is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Posture

         Since 2002, the plaintiff has filed a number of unsuccessful actions in this Court and in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to recover $2, 727 that he claimed was “erroneously deducted from his back pay award.” Brown, 2015 WL 4450109, at *1; see id. at 2 (noting that “[t]his suit is the latest iteration of plaintiff's quest for the return of the $2, 727.00”); Brown v. Dalton, 312 F.R.D. 239, 244 (D.D.C. 2015) (“Plaintiff has been litigating his claims regarding the 1987 tax withholding since at least 2002.”) (citing Brown v. Dep't of the Navy, No. 86-1582 (D.D.C. Aug. II, 2003)). On September 21, 2012, this Court dismissed the plaintiff's complaint on res judicata grounds, finding:

Without question, the plaintiff's claim to $2, 727.00 arises from the judgment entered in his favor in the prior Title VII suit against the Department of the Navy. The plaintiff's opportunity to litigate the amount owed to him pursuant to that judgment-and the $2, 727.00 allegedly withheld from him and erroneously paid in Social Security taxes on his behalf in 1988-has come and gone.

Brown v. Mabus, 892 F.Supp.2d 115, 118 (D.D.C. 2012), aff'd, 548 Fed. App'x 623 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (on appeal from No. 11-cv-1922 (BAH)). The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the dismissal order, stating:

Even assuming, without deciding, that appellant's claim did not accrue until the date of discovery, and even assuming, without deciding, that equitable tolling applies, appellant did not file his complaint within the period specified by 28 U.S.C. 2401(a). We reject appellant's argument that his claim did not accrue until March 9, 2010, because he was on notice of his claims by 2001, or by 2004 at the latest. Moreover, because appellant's complaint did not seek relief under Title VII, this case does not implicate the interaction between the limitations period set out in § 2401(a) and the period set out in 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(c). In any event, the complaint was not timely filed even under the latter provision.

Brown, 548 Fed. App'x at 624.

         Almost three years later, on March 9, 2016, the plaintiff lodged with the Clerk of Court the instant 40-page complaint asserting, in Counts I through XI, myriad claims regarding the defendant's alleged “illegal seizure of all of the monies at issue” that were used “to pay taxes and penalties on behalf of the Plaintiff” back in 1988, Compl. at 38, and expressly conceding that, for some claims at least, he “hereby repeats the argument which he sought to pursue in the previous courts to which he has brought this matter, ” id.; see also id. at 39 (stating that he “merely repeats the argument which he uttered before this Court in CA 86-cv-1582”). On May 31, 2016, the Court dismissed the case sua sponte on the grounds that the complaint was barred by res judicata and by time. See Mem. Op. at 2, ECF No. 4. The plaintiff appealed to the D.C. Circuit. On appeal, the defendant “argue[d] that a 2003 district court decision denying a contempt motion serve[d] as the res judicata bar.” Brown v. Mattis, 701 Fed. App'x 3 (D.C. Cir. Oct. 12, 2017) (per curiam). The D.C. Circuit rejected that argument, and it could not discern “which claims the [district] court [had] deemed untimely.” Id. Therefore, it remanded the case for this Court “to consider in the first instance the timeliness and other arguments” of the parties. Id. The case was then reassigned to the undersigned Judge on January 26, 2018.

         B. Factual Posture

         The plaintiff alleges the following relevant facts, which also formed the basis of Civil Action No. 11-1922. See Brown, 892 F.Supp.2d at 115. By check dated April 7, 1988, in the amount of $80, 839.30, the defendant “paid the bulk of the monies ordered to be paid” in Brown I. Compl. at 10, ¶ 5. At that time, the defendant provided the plaintiff “with detailed computations indicating that the gross amount of the damages . . . was $121, 706.64.” Id. ¶ 6. The “damage award . . . covered the period” between December 27, 1982 and January 31, 1988, for back pay. Compl. at 3.

         In 1997, the plaintiff “was first notified by the Social Security Administration that [the Department of Navy] had deducted $2, 727.00 from the back-pay award in 1988.” Id. at 5. According to the plaintiff, the defendant “had no authority to levy Social Security taxes against [him]” for that period; he “was not liable” for said taxes; and the Internal Revenue Service Commissioner confirmed in a letter dated February 19, 2002, that he “was not obligated to pay Social Security taxes for the tax year 1988.” Compl. at 10, ¶¶ 8-10. In August 2001, upon examining “all of [his] pay statements” dating from April 9, 1988, the plaintiff “observed that the [Department of Navy] had deducted $9, 122.24 from the . . . back pay award, purportedly for the [p]laintiff having been indebted to the Government” before April 1988. Compl. at 4, 5. Allegedly, in a document dated December 10, 2015, which the plaintiff ...

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