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Alexis-Kelvin: Fowlers v. United States Department of Justice; Internal Revenue Service

February 15, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Alan C. Kay Sr. United States District Judge



On March 18, 2011, pro se Plaintiff Alexis-Kelvin Fowlers ("Plaintiff") filed a Complaint ("Complaint") against the U.S. Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, Florence T. Nakakuni, Leslie E. Osborne, and Rylon Oshiro (collectively, "Defendants").

On May 9, 2011, Magistrate Judge Richard Puglisi issued Findings and Recommendations to (1) grant Plaintiff's application to proceed without prepayment of fees, and dismiss Plaintiff's complaint without prejudice and with leave to amend (the "F&R"). In his F&R, Magistrate Judge Puglisi concluded that: (1) Plaintiff had no right to present evidence or be called as a witness before a grand jury considering his indictment; (2) contrary to Plaintiff's contention that the DOJ has no power to represent the IRS and the U.S. Attorney's Office is not authorized to present charges to the grand jury, the DOJ and the U.S. Attorney's Office have broad powers to prosecute claims on behalf of the federal government and its agencies; (3) Plaintiff failed to identify the administrative remedy that the IRS allegedly failed to exhaust before initiating a grand jury investigation; and (4) Plaintiff's claims against the DOJ, IRS, and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office acting within their authority, are barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity.*fn2

On May 31, 2011, this Court issued an Order Adopting As Modified Magistrate Judge's Findings and Recommendations (the "May 31, 2011 Order"), and granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint correcting the deficiencies in his current complaint.

Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on July 1, 2011 (the "Amended Complaint"). Although it is difficult to decipher the factual allegations, the Amended Complaint appears to be based upon Plaintiff's allegation that Defendants have deprived him of his civil rights and used a federal grand jury to cause him injury. (Am. Compl., ¶¶ 1-6.) Plaintiff alleges that the IRS owes Plaintiff tax refunds for 2008 and 2009 in the amount of $1,130,914.00, and $601,196.00, respectively. Id. at ¶ 3. Plaintiff further alleges that IRS agent and named Defendant Rylon Oshiro met with Plaintiff's boss at Plaintiff's place of work and asked questions about Plaintiff and others, causing an unnecessary strain between Plaintiff and his boss. Id. at ¶¶ 11, 37.

Additionally, Plaintiff contends, in or about the beginning of 2001, the IRS recruited the DOJ to commence a federal grand jury investigation in which Plaintiff was to be one of the government's targets. Id. at ¶ 12. During the course of this investigation, Plaintiff alleges, named Defendants Florence

T. Nakakuni and Leslie E. Osborne were the U.S. Attorneys conducting the grand jury investigation. Id. at ¶ 13. After Plaintiff learned that he was the target of an investigation from friends who appeared before Federal Grand Jury Panel No. 10-I-66, Plaintiff allegedly contacted Defendant Osborne by mail and asked to appear before the federal grand jury to present his side of the story. Id. at ¶ 17. However, the DOJ, along with Defendants Nakakuni and Osborne, allegedly refused to allow Plaintiff an opportunity to face his accusers before the federal grand jury panel. Id. at ¶ 18.

Plaintiff asserts seven claims against Defendants in the Amended Complaint: (1) Abuse of Process; (2) Eleventh Amendment Violation; (3) Breach of Fiduciary Duty; (4) Civil Conspiracy; (5) Defamation; (6) Fraud; and (7) Negligence. Id. at ¶¶ 19-40.

In what appears to be his Prayer for Relief, Plaintiff references emancipation of slavery and seeks a "bounty" in the amount of "$150 million dollars plus any amount of public debt accrued by the private party(s) in such a contractual agreement . . . ." See Am. Compl. at 6. In the alternative, if no such "agreement" can be reached, Plaintiff seeks $5 million in monetary damages and an additional $250 per hour or any part of an hour spent by Plaintiff. Id.

On October 6, 2011, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint. In their supporting memorandum, Defendants assert that this Court should dismiss the Amended Complaint on two grounds: (1) this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because the claims against the Defendants are barred by the doctrines of sovereign immunity, absolute prosecutorial immunity, and qualified immunity; and (2) the Amended Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Furthermore, Defendants argue that dismissal with prejudice is appropriate in light of Plaintiff's failure to correct the deficiencies in the original Complaint for which Plaintiff was afforded a full and fair opportunity to amend.

On February, 2012, Plaintiff submitted a document entitled, "Judicial Notice for A Amendment In Jurisdiction And Request For Transfer For Want Of Jurisdiction" (the "Opposition"). While not entirely clear, Plaintiff's filing appears to raise the following issues: (1) this Court lacks jurisdiction because the "district court of the United States" is the proper court for Plaintiff's case; (2) Defendants improperly "operated" a grand jury in the "United States District Court" because said court is a "territorial court"; (3) the proper court for the IRS to file suit is the United States Tax Court; and (4) the February 13, 2012 hearing before this Court should be postponed until the case is placed in a court of proper jurisdiction.

Defendants responded to this statement on February 3, 2012 (the "Reply Memorandum"). In the Reply Memorandum, Defendants urge the Court to disregard Plaintiff's Opposition as "totally frivolous and irrelevant," and also request that the court deny Plaintiff's request to postpone the February 13, 2012 hearing on the Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint. Id. Defendants contend that Plaintiff, despite having had ample time to prepare a written opposition to the Motion to Dismiss, has submitted a document that "completely fails to address or rebut any of the multiple grounds for dismissal of the Amended Complaint." Reply Memorandum at 2. Accordingly, Defendants ask this Court to grant the Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint with Prejudice.

Because Plaintiff has failed to file a proper motion for a transfer of venue, the Court declines to entertain this request.*fn3

Pursuant to Local Rule 7.2(d), the Court finds that the Motion is suitable for disposition without a hearing.


I. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) ("Rule 12(b)(6)") permits dismissal of a complaint that fails "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Under Rule 12(b)(6), review is generally limited to the contents of the complaint. Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001); Campanelli v. Bockrath, 100 F.3d 1476, 1479 (9th Cir. 1996). "To survive a motion to dismiss, 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombley, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); see also Weber v. Dep't of Veteran Affairs, 521 F.3d 1061, 1065 (9th Cir. 2008). Further, although Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 does not demand detailed factual allegations, it demands "more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft, 129 S. Ct. at 1949.

On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, all allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Fed'n of African Am. Contractors v. City of Oakland, 96 F.3d 1204, 1207 (9th Cir. 1996). However, conclusory allegations of law, unwarranted deductions of fact, and unreasonable inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss. See Sprewell, 266 F.3d at 988; Nat'l Assoc. for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis v. Cal. Bd. of Psychology, 228 F.3d 1043, 1049 (9th Cir. 2000); In re Syntex Corp. Sec. Litig., 95 F.3d 922, 926 (9th Cir. 1996). Moreover, the court need not accept as true allegations that contradict matters properly subject to judicial notice or allegations contradicting the exhibits attached to the complaint. Sprewell, 266 F.3d at 988.

As the Ninth Circuit has stated, "[t]he issue is not whether a plaintiff's success on the merits is likely but rather whether the claimant is entitled to proceed beyond the threshold in attempting to establish his claims." De La Cruz v. Tormey, 582 F.2d 45, 48 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 441 U.S. 965 (1979). The court must determine whether or not it appears to a certainty under existing law that no relief can be granted under any set of facts that might be proved in support of a plaintiff's claims. Id.

In summary, to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations and quotations omitted). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations . . . a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. (internal citations and quotations omitted). Dismissal is appropriate under Rule 12(b)(6) if the facts alleged do not state a claim that is "plausible on its face." Id. at 570.

II. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Based Upon Immunity Grounds

A court's subject matter jurisdiction may be challenged under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) ("Rule 12(b)(1)"). "A party invoking the federal court's jurisdiction has the burden of proving the actual existence of subject matter jurisdiction." See Thompson v. McCombe, 99 F.3d 352, 353 (9th Cir. 1996). Under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, the United States is immune from suit unless it has waived its immunity. Dep't of Army v. Blue Fox, Inc., 525 U.S. 255, 260 (1999). If the United States has not consented to be sued on a claim, a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over that claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). McCarthy v. United States, 850 F.2d 558, 560 (9th Cir. 1998). Furthermore, a lawsuit against an agency of the United States or against an officer of the United States in his or her official capacity is considered an action against the United States. Sierra Club v. Whitman, 268 F.3d 898, 901 (9th Cir. 2001).

Significantly, a waiver of immunity cannot be implied, but rather "must be unequivocally expressed." Gilbert v. DaGrossa, 756 F.2d 1455, 1458 (9th Cir. 1985) (citing United States v. Shaw, 309 U.S. 495 (1940)); see also Balser v. Dep't of Justice, 327 F.3d 903, 907 (9th Cir. 2003) ...

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