United States District Court, District of Columbia
N. McFADDEN, U.S.D.J.
O'Donnell sued the U.S. Agency for International
Development (“USAID”) under the Administrative
Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 701 et seq, alleging
that it has unlawfully failed to release certain Country
Development Cooperation Strategies (“Cooperation
Strategies”). USAID has moved to dismiss Mr.
O'Donnell's Complaint for lack of standing and for
failure to state a claim. For the reasons given below, the
Court will grant USAID's Motion to Dismiss.
Strategies detail USAID's priorities for international
development projects. “Strategic planning in a country
or region . . . is the process by which USAID defines its
objectives for development to maximize the impart of [its]
work.” Compl. Ex. 2 at 2, ECF No. 1-2. And Cooperation
Strategies communicate “development needs, constraints,
and opportunities; specify a Mission's focused choice
of objectives; and defin[e] associated resource priorities
and planned implementation approaches.” Id. at
4. They “lay the groundwork for subsequent decision
making, ” “bring all” staff “to a
common understanding about program priorities, ” and
“create a forum for interaction and buy-in,
particularly with local stakeholders and partners.”
Id. at 2-3. Once a Cooperation Strategy is approved,
USAID staff in the country define in greater detail how they
will operationalize the Cooperation Strategy. Id. at
3. Eventually, USAID identifies projects to implement the
Cooperation Strategy and issues solicitations for bids for
the projects. See Compl. ¶ 11, ECF No. 1
O'Donnell argues that USAID must issue Cooperation
Strategies for particular countries. See Id. ¶
6. But USAID has failed to do so. See Id.
¶¶ 5, 13. That failure, he argues, harms small
businesses like his, which are interested in responding to
USAID's bid solicitations. See Id. ¶¶
3, 5a, 11. Small businesses must travel and meet with USAID
staff to discuss information that the Cooperation Strategies
would otherwise include. Id. ¶ 11. Thus, Mr.
O'Donnell argues that USAID has violated the APA and asks
the Court to compel the agency to post Cooperation Strategies
for certain countries to its website. See Id. ¶
however, maintains that Mr. O'Donnell lacks standing
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), and he fails to state a claim
upon which relied can be granted, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
See Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss at 1, ECF No. 8.
Because Mr. O'Donnell is proceeding pro se, the
Court advised him of his responsibility to respond to
USAID's motion. See Order, ECF No. 9. He
responded, but his opposition did not address USAID's
substantive arguments. See Pl.'s Opp'n, ECF
Nos. 10 and 10-1. Instead, he pointed out that USAID has
updated some Cooperation Strategies on its website that he
complained were missing or expired. See Id. at ECF
No. 10-1 at 1.
is well understood in this Circuit, that when a plaintiff
files an opposition to a dispositive motion and addresses
only certain arguments by the defendant, a court may
treat those arguments that the plaintiff failed to address as
conceded.” Hopkins v. Women's Div., Gen. Bd. of
Glob. Ministries, 284 F.Supp.2d 15, 25 (D.D.C. 2003)
(emphasis added). But because Mr. O'Donnell is proceeding
pro se and responded to USAID's Motion to
Dismiss, the Court will not treat USAID's arguments as
so, Mr. O'Donnell has failed to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted. The Court construes his filings
liberally, see Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007), but even under a liberal reading, he has failed to
point to any authority that requires the USAID to issue
Cooperation Strategies on its public website.
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) “presents a
threshold challenge to the court's jurisdiction.”
And it is the plaintiff's burden to establish
jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. See
Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992).
When reviewing such a motion, the Court must “assume
the truth of all material factual allegations in the
complaint and construe the complaint liberally, granting the
plaintiff the benefit of all inferences that can be derived
from the facts alleged.” Am. Nat. Ins. Co. v.
FDIC, 642 F.3d 1137, 1139 (D.C. Cir. 2011).
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
state a claim for relief “plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). In other words, a plaintiff must put forth
“factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The Court must treat the
complaint's factual allegations as true, “even if
doubtful in fact.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
But it need not accept as true legal conclusions set forth in
a complaint. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
claims that Mr. O'Donnell lacks standing. “[A]
showing of standing is an essential and unchanging predicate
to any exercise of a court's jurisdiction.”
Fla. Audubon Soc'y v. Bentsen, 94 F.3d 658, 663
(D.C. Cir. 1996). And the irreducible constitutional minimum
of standing consists of three elements: (1) an injury in
fact, (2) fairly traceable to the challenged conduct, and (3)
that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial
decision. Spokeo v. Robinson, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547
(2016). According to USAID, Mr. O'Donnell has not
established either of the first two elements.
“[a]t the pleading stage, general factual allegations
of injury resulting from the defendant's conduct may
suffice.” Lujan, 504 U.S. at 561. What is
more, Mr. O'Donnell is proceeding pro se.
“A document filed pro se is to be liberally
construed, and a pro se complaint, however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to ...