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Bhadmus v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

September 30, 2016

TISHANA JO BHADMUS, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE

         This cause is now before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 16], filed on October 23, 2015. Plaintiff Tishana Jo Bhadmus brought her pro se complaint against Defendants in an attempt to appeal the denial by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) of her petition to remove the conditions on the resident status of non-party Samuel Bhadmus, and to bring other tort claims against USCIS. For the reasons detailed below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED. Having granted Defendants' request for dismissal, we need not reach their alternative request for summary judgment; that motion is DENIED as moot.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Ms. Bhadmus, a United States citizen, married non-party Samuel Bhadmus, who is not a United States citizen, on February 7, 2008 [Docket No. 1-1 at 2]. In 2010, USCIS granted Mr. Bhadmus conditional permanent resident status based on Ms. Bhadmus's petition on his behalf [Id.].[1] On December 30, 2011, the Bhadmuses filed with USCIS an I-751 petition to remove the conditions on Mr. Bhadmus's permanent resident status [Docket No. 17, Ex. 1 at 1.][2] In connection with the petition, Mr. Bhadmus was interviewed on November 6, 2012, and December 14, 2012 [Docket No. 1-1 at 2-3]. Ms. Bhadmus was also interviewed on December 14, 2012 [Id. at 2.]

         On July 9, 2013, USCIS sent to Mr. Bhadmus a Notice of Intent to Deny (“NOID”) the I-751 petition stating: “It is clear from the evidence contained within your file, or lack thereof, that your marriage to Tishana Nash was entered into for the purpose of you procuring admission as an immigrant.” [Docket No. 17-1 at 2]. Mr. Bhadmus, through counsel, responded to the NOID on August 6, 2013 [Docket No. 1-1 at 3]. After reviewing the additional information Mr. Bhadmus's submitted, on November 29, 2013, USCIS formally denied the I-751 petition, terminated Mr. Bhadmus's conditional permanent resident status, and informed Mr. Bhadmus that “[i]n accordance with [8 C.F.R. § 216.4(d)(2)], [he] may request review of this determination in removal proceedings under Section 240 of the Act.” [Docket No. 1-1 at 4].

         On December 31, 2013, Mr. Bhadmus was placed in removal proceedings by issuance of a Notice to Appear in immigration court, charging him with removability from the United States under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(1)(D)(i), as an alien whose conditional permanent resident status was terminated [Docket No. 17-2].

         Ms. Bhadmus's complaint followed. The parties' motions are now fully briefed and ready for ruling.

         Legal Analysis

         I. Standards of Review

         Defendants have filed their Motion to Dismiss, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorize dismissal of claims for “lack of subject matter jurisdiction” and for “failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and (6), respectively. Under these circumstances, “the purpose of a motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not to decide the merits.” Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990) (quoting Triad Assocs. v. Chicago Hous. Authority, 982 F.2d 583, 586 (7th Cir. 1989)).

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure command that courts dismiss any suit over which they lack subject matter jurisdiction-whether acting on the motion of a party or sua sponte. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). In ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), we “must accept the complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draw reasonable inferences from those allegations in the plaintiff's favor.” Franzoni v. Hartmax Corp., 300 F.3d 767, 771 (7th Cir. 2002); Transit Express, Inc. v. Ettinger, 246 F.3d 1018, 1023 (7th Cir. 2001). We may, however, “properly look beyond the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint and view whatever evidence has been submitted on the issue to determine whether in fact subject matter jurisdiction exists.” See Capitol Leasing Co. v. F.D.I.C., 999 F.2d 188, 191 (7th Cir. 1993); Estate of Eiteljorg ex rel. Eiteljorg v. Eiteljorg, 813 F.Supp.2d 1069, 1074 (S.D. Ind. 2011).

         In the procedural context of Rule 12(b)(6), we must accept as true all well-pled factual allegations in the complaint and draw all ensuing inferences in favor of the non-movant. Lake v. Neal, 585 F.3d 1059, 1060 (7th Cir. 2009). Nevertheless, the Amended Complaint must “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, ” and its “[f]actual allegations [must] raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Pisciotta v. Old Nat'l Bancorp, 499 F.3d 629, 633 (7th Cir. 2007) (internal citations omitted).

         II. Discussion

         The district courts of the United States are “courts of limited jurisdiction, ” which “possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute.” Kokkonen v. GuardianLife Ins. Co. of America,511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). In light of this limitation, federal district courts have a constitutional obligation to scrutinize complaints for jurisdictional defects, and to dismiss, on their own initiative, suits over which they lack subject matter jurisdiction. See Joyce v. Joyce,975 F.2d 379, 386 (7th Cir. 1992). ...


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