United States District Court, District of Columbia
E. BOASBERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pro se Plaintiff Anthony L. Viola makes a clear
request: show me the money. Or at least: show me where the
money went. Convicted of wire fraud and ordered, along with
several co-defendants, to pay restitution to assorted
victims, Viola now seeks an accounting. As he and his
co-defendants are jointly and severally liable, Viola wants
to know what payments have been made and to whom.
Plaintiff's claims hit several snags, however. For
starters, he fails to show injury and thus lacks standing.
His counts against each of the four Defendants also suffer
substantive defects. As a result, the Court will dismiss the
suit without prejudice.
April 1, 2011, Viola was convicted of wire fraud and related
charges in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District
of Ohio. See ECF No. 12 (Fed. Def. MTD) at 2;
see also United States v. Viola, 2011 WL 6749643, at
*2 (N.D. Ohio Dec. 22, 2011). That court subsequently held
him and five co-defendants jointly and severally liable for
$2, 649, 865 in restitution to five victims of the fraud.
See Fed. Def. MTD at 2; see also ECF No. 1
(Compl.), Attach. 1 at 1-6 (Restitution Order). Those victims
included the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Argent
Mortgage Company. See Restitution Order at 3. To
execute the court's restitution order, the Bureau of
Prisons has deducted between $25 and $50 from Viola's
account every three months since September 2012. Id.
at 8-10 (Inmate Financial Obligations); Fed. Def. MTD,
Attach. 1 (Viola Payment History).
alleges that in January 2018, he requested that each of the
payees provide a current balance of his outstanding
restitution debt. See Compl. at 1. He claims that
they either ignored him or failed to confirm receipt of
restitution payments. Id. Viola further alleges that
he requested from the court a “full accounting”
of his payments, but that the court “refused to provide
the information.” Id.
with his lack of progress, on October 9, 2018, Plaintiff
filed suit in this Court against the U.S. District Court for
the Northern District of Ohio, the FDIC, BOP, and Argent.
Although he does not delineate specific causes of action, he
principally invokes 18 U.S.C. § 3664, the Mandatory
Victims Restitution Act. Id. at 4. He seeks to
obtain an accounting of his restitution payments,
verification that his payments have reached the proper
payees, and the amount remaining on all co-defendants'
liability. Id. at 4-5. The three federal Defendants
have now filed a collective Motion to Dismiss under Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Citigroup,
Inc., as alleged successor to Argent, has filed a separate
Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). See ECF No.
evaluating Defendants' Motions 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)); see also Jerome Stevens Pharms.,
Inc. v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253-54 (D.C. Cir. 2005).
The Court need not accept as true, however, “a legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation, ” nor an
inference unsupported by the facts set forth in the
Complaint. See Trudeau v. FTC, 456 F.3d 178, 193
(D.C. Cir. 2006) (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478
U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).
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.” Although
“detailed factual allegations” are not necessary
to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “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) (internal citation omitted). For a complaint to
survive a 12(b)(6) motion, the facts alleged in the complaint
“must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).
standard to survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1)
is less forgiving. Under this Rule, a 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). 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)).
Court is mindful that complaints filed by pro se
claimants are held “to less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). But “even a
pro se complainant must plead ‘factual
matter' that permits the court to infer ‘more than
the mere possibility of misconduct.'” Atherton
v. D.C. Office of the Mayor, 567 F.3d 672, 681-82 (D.C.
Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). The
Court therefore must dismiss a pro se complaint
“where the plaintiff's complaint provides no
factual or legal basis for the requested relief.”
Strunk v. Obama, 880 F.Supp.2d 1, 3 (D.D.C. 2011)
(internal citations omitted).
Court, as it must, first considers Defendants'
jurisdictional challenges, see Steel Co. v. Citizens for
a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 95 (1998), before