United States District Court, District of Columbia
CHERYL TRACY, et al. Plaintiff,
LEILA C. SWANSON, et al., Defendants.
A. Howell, Chief Judge.
plaintiffs, Cheryl Tracy (“Tracy”) and LCS
Outreach Ministries, Inc. (“LCS Ministries”),
initiated this lawsuit raising breach of contract and
negligence claims against four individuals who allegedly
effected the fraudulent transfer of real property in
Martinsburg, West Virginia. See Compl. ¶¶
I.A., II.B., III, ECF No. 1. Two of those four defendants,
Kimberly C. McGarrah (“McGarrah”) and David D.
Pill, Esq. (“Pill”), have filed motions to
dismiss the complaint. See Def. McGarrah's Mot.
to Dismiss, ECF No. 9; Def. Pill's Mot. to Dismiss
(“Pill MTD”), ECF No. 10. Shortly thereafter, the
Court issued an order advising Tracy of her obligations under
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the local civil
rules of this Court. Order (April 19, 2019), ECF No. 14.
Specifically, the Court notified Tracy that, if she failed to
file an opposition or other response to the defendants'
dismissal motions by May 10, 2019, the pending motions would
be resolved without the benefit of her position. To date,
Tracy has not filed an opposition to the motions, requested
more time to file her oppositions, or advised the Court of
any change of address.
defendants' motions are unopposed, the Court declines to
grant the motions as conceded. See Cohen v. Bd. of Trs.
of the Univ. of the District of Columbia, 819 F.3d 476,
482 (D.C. Cir. 2016). At the same time, however, review of
the complaint and defendants' motions demonstrates that
Tracy cannot represent the interests of LCS Ministries and
has failed to allege sufficient facts to show her standing to
sue. Accordingly, the complaint and this civil action are
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
to Pill, in his sworn declaration, defendant Lelia C. Swanson
(“Swanson”) retained him in February 2018
“to deed a parcel of real property located at 623 West
King Street, Martinsburg, West Virginia (the
‘Property') to a man she identified as her son,
Michael Richard Bien-Aime.” Pill MTD, Ex. 1, Pill Decl.
¶ 2, ECF No. 10-1. Pill prepared a deed, which he
recorded on March 2, 2018. Id. ¶ 5; see
id., Ex. B. In June 2018, Swanson notified Pill
“that she forgot that she had previously deeded the
Property from herself individually to her charity, LCS
Outreach Ministries, Inc., a West Virginia
corporation.” Id. ¶ 6; see id.,
Ex. C. Upon Swanson's instructions and representation
“that she was the President of LCS Outreach ministries,
Inc. [with] the authority to transfer the Property, ”
id. ¶ 8, Pill prepared a deed for the transfer
of the property from LCS Ministries to Bien-Aime,
id. ¶ 9; see id., Ex. D. Pill recorded
the deed on June 15, 2018. Id. ¶ 9. At no time
did Swanson instruct Pill to conduct a title search or lien
search regarding the Property. Id. ¶¶ 3,
sets forth the basis of her claims in a single paragraph,
alleging in full that:
Each defendant took part in the fraudulent sale of a property
not owned by the Swansons and/or were negligent in their
[sic] duties to investigate and take reasonable actions
required when notified of the unlawful deed recording.
Defendant Swansons hired defendant Pill to sell property
knowing that they had no rights. And Defendant Pill was
negligent in his duties by preparing and recording a
fraudulent Deed on March 2, 2018 without lien holder
research. The lien holder of said property is BB&T Bank
and defendant McGarrah took no action to rectify this
unlawful act. When plaintiff informed defendant McGarrah that
the property located at 623 West King Street was sold, she
was negligent in her duties to take action on behalf of the
Compl. ¶ III. As a result of defendants' actions,
Tracy claims to have sustained “[d]amages . . .
includ[ing] loss of management and access of property, loss
of revenue for rental property and ability to provide housing
for the homeless.” Id. ¶ IV. She purports
to bring this action on behalf of herself and LCS Ministries,
see id. ¶ II.B., and demands compensation of
$100, 000 from each defendant plus punitive damages of $400,
000, id. ¶ II.B.3.
reasons summarized below, this lawsuit may not go forward on
the present record.
THE COURT DISMISSES LCS MINISTRIES AS A PARTY
plaintiffs are named in this case: Tracy, an individual, and
LCS Ministries, a corporation. Tracy does not hold herself
out as an attorney licensed to practice law in this Court.
She may represent her own interests, see Georgiades v.
Martin-Trigona, 729 F.2d 831, 834 (D.C. Cir. 1984), but
not those of LCS Ministries, see Rowland v. California
Men's Colony, Unit II Men's Advisory Council,
506 U.S. 194, 201-02 (1993) (noting that “[i]t has been
the law for the better part of two centuries . . . that a
corporation may appear in the federal courts only through
licensed counsel”). Tracy is well aware of this, as the
absence of counsel to represent LCS Ministries in a prior
civil action was the basis for dismissing the organization as
a party plaintiff. See Tracy v. Kratovil, No.
18-CV-2688, 2019 WL 1901295, at *2 (D.D.C. Apr. 29, 2019),
appeal docketed, No. 19-7046 (D.C. Cir. May 23,
2019). The Court therefore dismisses LCS Ministries as a
TRACY FAILS TO ESTABLISH THE COURT'S
federal district court has “original jurisdiction of
all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the
sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs,
and is between . . . citizens of different States[.]”
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Tracy asserts diversity of
citizenship as the basis for this Court's jurisdiction.
See Compl. ¶ II.B. She represents that she is a
citizen of the District of Columbia, that Pill, McGarrah and
Larry C. Swanson are citizens of West Virginia, and that
Lelia C. Swanson is a citizen of Maryland. See id.
¶¶ I.B., II.B.2. With a $400, 000 demand for