United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
JAMES L. PHILLIPS, Plaintiff,
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, and U.S. DEP'T OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
William C. Lee, Judge
matter is before the court on a request for hearing, filed by
the Plaintiff, James L. Phillips (“Phillips”),
pro se, on February 7, 2019. Defendants filed a
response to the request on February 20, 2019. Also before the
court is the Defendants' joint motion to dismiss
Phillips' complaint, filed on February 15, 2019. Phillips
filed a letter to the court on February 26, 2019, requesting
to subpoena President Trump to his dismissal hearing.
following reasons, Phillips' request for a hearing and
for subpoena will be denied. Defendants' joint motion to
dismiss will be granted.
initiated this lawsuit by filing a 113 page document. It
appears that page one of this document is his
“complaint” and the remaining 112 pages are
various exhibits. Phillips states that he is a veteran. Most
of the exhibits appear to be related to the Department of
Veterans Affairs' administrative review of whether some
of Phillips' physical conditions were service connected.
Most of these VA records date back to the mid to late 1990s
or unknown dates. (DE 1 pages 3-7; 15-24 and 26-113). There
are also exhibits that relate to Phillips' requests for
an audit of his VA benefits and a pending administrative
review matter before the VA. (DE 1 pages 8 and 11).
seems that these older records may relate to earlier VA
determinations related to Phillips' VA benefits.
Defendants state that they believe that only the exhibits on
pages 8, 11, 12, and 25 relate to Phillips' pending
complaint. Though Phillips' allegations against the
Defendants are unclear, it seems that Phillips is contesting
the offset of his Social Security benefits as evidenced by
the exhibits on pages 12 and 25 of his Complaint.
also appears to be contesting the amount he owes and/or the
amount paid by the VA for certain health services he received
at the “county hospital” on an unknown date. (DE
1 page 1). Phillips references the “Choice Card”
for veterans to use. Defendants have informed the court that
the Veterans Choice Program is a benefit for veterans
eligible for VA health care to receive care from a local
community care provider, paid for by VA. There may be
copayments for nonservice-connected care. Additionally,
Phillips appears to be contesting the amount of his other VA
Defendants point out that Phillips does not provide a
jurisdictional statement for his complaint. In addition,
Phillips does not identify the specific legal basis for his
claims for relief. Defendants assert that this Court does not
have subject matter jurisdiction over Phillips complaint and
that Phillips fails to state actionable claims for relief.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) provides for dismissal of
claims over which the Federal Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is the "power to decide"
and must be conferred upon the Federal Court. In re
Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific R.R. Co., 794 F.2d
1182, 1188 (7th Cir.1986). When a court's jurisdiction to
entertain a case is placed in question by the filing of a
12(b)(1) motion, the Court must resolve that issue before
reaching the merits of the case. Crawford v. United
States, 796 F.2d 924, 928 (7th Cir. 1986). The plaintiff
bears the burden of establishing that the jurisdictional
requirements have been met. Kontos v. United States Dept.
of Labor, 826 F.2d 573, 576 (7th Cir.1987). A court may
properly dismiss an action for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction pursuant to Fed R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) when the
court lacks the statutory authority or constitutional power
to adjudicate the case. Home Builder's Ass'n of
Miss. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir.
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, the Court may
look beyond the complaint and review any extraneous evidence
submitted by the parties to determine whether subject matter
jurisdiction exists. United Transp. Union v. Gateway
Western R.R. Co., 78 F.3d 1208, 1210 (7th Cir.1996).
motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)
challenges the sufficiency of the complaint for
“failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted[.]” Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
8(a)(2), “detailed factual allegations” are not
required, but the rule does call for sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007). A claim has
facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id. at 556.
There are two principles espoused in Twombly. First,
the tenet that a court must accept a complaint's
allegations as true is inapplicable to threadbare recitals of
a cause of action's elements, supported by mere
conclusory statements. Id. at 555. Second,
determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim is
context-specific, requiring the reviewing court to draw on
its experience and common sense. Id.
considering a motion to dismiss may begin by identifying
allegations that, because they are mere conclusions, are not
entitled to the assumption of truth. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1940 (2009). While legal
conclusions can provide the complaint's framework, they
must be supported by factual allegations. Id. When
there are well pleaded factual allegations, a court should
assume their veracity and then determine whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. Id.
at 1940-41. The facts in the complaint must "raise a
reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of
illegality.” Twombly at 556.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), a complaint must contain a "short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S.
41 (1957). The complaint must set out who did what to whom
and why. Dewey v. University of New Hampshire, 694
F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 461 U.S. 44 (1983).
Since government officials are frequently targets of
nonmeritorious suits founded on rhetorical assertions of
wrongdoing, the courts have been careful to ensure that
plaintiffs suing government officials comply with the
standard set out in Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). In Butz v.
Economou, the Supreme Court warned courts about the
possibilities of artful pleading and to "[firmly apply]
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [to] ensure that Federal
officials are not harassed by frivolous lawsuits." 438
U.S. 478, 507 (1978).
present case, Phillips fails to allege that this Court has
jurisdiction over the issues he presents in his complaint, as
required. Kontos v. U.S. Dep't Labor, 826 F.2d
573, 576 (7th Cir.1987). The Defendants acknowledge that
Phillips is proceeding pro se, and that the Court may
liberally construe the allegations in the complaint.
Hudson v. McHugh, 148 F.3d 859, 864 (7th Cir.1998).
However, this Court is not required ...