WILLIAMS v. USA, No. 1:2014cv00535 - Document 8 (Fed. Cl. 2015)

Court Description: UNREPORTED MEMORANDUM OPINION and FINAL ORDER granting 4 Motion to Dismiss - Rule 12(b)(1). The Clerk is directed to enter judgment. Signed by Judge Susan G. Braden. (dls) Copy to parties.
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WILLIAMS v. USA Doc. 8 ORIG![\|At l|n btutes @ourt of :fe!ers[ @[sims tbe @nfteD Case No. l4-535C Filed: January 26,2015 NOT TO BE PUBLISHED t+ + +,t:i*+,|. i+{,tt+ftf+,t,t tt+t+ + :t | * ,t :t * + :t * '},t {. ,} FILED JAN 2 6 CLYDE B. WILLIAMS, 2015 U,S. COURT OF FEDERAL CI-AIMS Plaintiff, pro se, THE LNITED STATES, Defendant. *,t * *** * * + t +* ** * * :t :t **+,t + * + * *** *** :t * t *,1 ** * Clyde B. Williams, pro se. Matthew P. Roche, United States Department of Justice, Civil Division, Washington, D.C., Counsel for the Govemment. MEMORANDUM OPINION A}ID FINAL ORDER BRADEN, Jadge. I. RELEVANTFACTUALBACKGROUND.' On August 10, 2001, Plaintiffwas convicted ofthree counts offirst degree sexual assault of a minor under Wisconsin state law. Gov't Mot. App. at 5, 7. Other charges were dismissed. Gov't Mot. at 2. In 2002, Plaintiffwas sentenced to two fifty-year terms of imprisonment for the first two counts, and a forty-year term for the third count. Gov't Mot. at2. In 2003, the State of Wisconsin Circuit Court of Racine County reduced the first two sentences to thirty years to conform to the statutory maximums. Gov't Mot. at 2 (citing Gov't Mot. App. at 7). In 2004, the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin affirmed all three convictions aeainst Plaintiff. See llilliams v. Maronev. l13 F. I The relevant facts discussed herein were derived from Plaintiff s June 23,2014 Complaint and the unnumbered Exhibits attached thereto ("Compl."), and the Govemment's September 3, 2014 Motion to Dismiss ("Gov't Mot.") and Appendix ("Gov't. Mot. App."). Dockets.Justia.com App'x 709, 710 (7th Cir. 2004); see also State v. Williams,677 N.W.2d 691,705 (Wis. Ct. App. 2004). II. PROCEDIJRALHISTORY, On September 5,2013, Plaintiff filed a Complaint with the United States Court of Federal Claims, alleging unjust conviction and seeking "Military Pay Retirement [and] Social Security benefits." See l|'illiams v. United States,No. l3-645C, _ Fed. Cl. _ (Jan. 30, 2014) (unpublished order) ("ll'illiams I'), at +1; Compl. at 2. On January 30,2014, the United States Court of Federal Claims dismissed Plaintiffs claims for lack ofsubject-matterjurisdiction, as Plaintiff was not convicted ofany offenses against the United States; the court did not have jurisdiction to entertain claims for veterans benefits and Social Security benefits; the court is not authorized to adjudicate collateral attacks upon his conviction; and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment is not a money-mandating provision. Williams I,No. l3-645 C, at * I ; Compl. at 2. On June 23, 2014, Plaintiff filed a second Complaint seeking monetary damages for Plaintiff s unlawful imprisonment and for "Military Pay Retirement" and "Civilian VA-Disability Annuity," Compl. at l-2. The Complaint cites various cases, United States Code provisions, and Wisconsin state laws that require the reversal of convictions based on insufficient evidence. Compl. at 2. Plaintiff asks the court to award "VA-Retroactive benefits" of $650,000 for his alleged unjust conviction and $1,300,000 for damages resulting from that conviction. Compl. at 2. On August 7,2014,the Govemment filed a Motion To Dismiss ("Gov't Mot."), pursuant to RCFC l2(bXl), because the claims alleged in the June 23,2014 Complaint are essentially the same as those in Plaintiff s September 5, 2013 Complaint. Gov't Mot. at 3 ("As with the previous case, [Plaintiffl seeks damages for unjust conviction, veterans benefits, and unspecified benefits pursuant to the Due Process Clause ofthe Fifth Amendment."). III. DISCUSSION. A. Jurisdiction, The United States Court of Federal Claims has jurisdiction under the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. $ 1491, "to render judgment upon any claim against the United States founded either upon the Constitution, or any Act ofCongress or any regulation of an executive department, or upon any express or implied contract with the United States, or for liquidated or unliquidated damages rn cases not sounding in tort." 28 U.S.C. $ la9l (a)(l ). The Tucker Act, however, is "ajurisdictional statute; it does not create any substantive right enforceable against the United States for money damages. . . [T]he Act merely confers jurisdiction upon [the United States Court of Federal Claimsl whenever the substantive right exists." United States v. Testan,424 U.S.392,398 (1976), . To pursue a substantive right under the Tucker Act, a plaintiffmust identift and plead an independent contractual relationship, Constitutional provision, federal statute, and./or executive agency regufation that provides a substantive right to money damages. See Todd v. United States, 386 F.3d 1091, 1094 (Fed. Cir. 2004) ("[J]urisdiction under the Tucker Act requires the litigant to identif, a substantive right for money damages against the United States separate from the Tucker Act itself,"); see also Fisher v. United States, 402 F.3d 1167, 1l7Z (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc) ("TheTuckerAct...doesnotcreateasubstantivecauseofaction;...aplaintiffmustidentirya separate source ofsubstantive law that creates the right to money damages. . . . [T]hat source must be 'money-mandating."). Specifically, a plaintiffmust demonstrate that the source ofsubstantive law upon which he relies "can fairly be interpreted as mandating compensation by the Federal Government[.]" United States v. Mitchell,463 u.s. 206,216 (1983) (quoting Testan,424 tJ.S. at 400). And, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. See Reynolds v. Army & Air Force Exch. Serv.,846 F.2d 746,748 (Fed. Cir. 1988) ("[O]nce the [trial] court's subject matter jurisdiction [is] put in question . . . . [the plaintiffl bears the burden ofestablishing subject matter jurisdiction by a preponderance ofthe evidence."). B. Standard of Review for a Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to RCFC l2(bxl). The pleadings of a pro se plaintiff are held to a less stringent standard than those oflitigants represented by counsel. See Haines v. Kerner,404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (holding that pro se complaints, "however inartfully pleaded," are held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers"). It has been the tradition of the court to examine the record ..to sEE if fa pro se] pfaintiffhas a cause ofaction somewhere displayed." Ruderer v. United States,4l2 F.2d 1285,1292(Ct. Cl. 1969). Nevertheless, while the court may excuse ambiguities in a pro se plaintifls complaint, the court "does not excuse [a complaint's] failures." Henke v. United States, 60 F .3d 795,799 (Fed. Cir. 1995). C. The Court's Resolution. As a threshold matter, a complaint must establish that the court has jurisdiction to adjudicate an alleged claim. See Trusted Integration, Inc. v. United States,659 F.3d I159, I163 (Fed. Cir. 201 I ) (holding that the plaintiff"bears the burden ofestablishing the court's jurisdiction over its claims by a preponderance of the evidence"). The United States Court ofFederal Claims may only issue judgments for money damages against the United States, if the cause ofaction is grounded in a contract, a money-mandating statute, or the Takings Clause ofthe Fifth Amendment. ,gee 28 U.S.C $ l49l ; see also Testan, 424 U.S. at 398 (holding that the Tucker Act ,,does not create a substantive right enforceable against the United States for money damages" and that it "merely confers jurisdiction upon it whenever the substantive right exists"). Plaintiffs claims, however, are almost identical to those alleged in the September 5,2013 Complaint that was dismissed, pursuant to RCFC l2(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See generally Williams I, No. 13-645C. Specifically, as to Plaintiffs veterans' benefits claims, the United States Court ofFederal Claims statutorily is not authorized to adjudicate veterans' benefits determinations. See38U.S.C. S 5l 1(a) (stating that decisions by the Secretary are "final and conclusive and may not be reviewed by any other official or by any court," subject to certain exception s2); see also Fieno v. United 2 These exceptions include: referrals by the Secretary to the United States Court ofAppeals for the Federal Circuit pursuant to Section 502; civil actions or claims against the United States overwhich the district courts ofthe United States have jurisdiction and suits on insurance pursuant to Sections 1975 and 1984, respectively; matters involving housing and small busineis loans States,72 Fed. Cl. I, 6 (2006), aff'd,501 F.3d 1349 (Fed. Cir. 2007) (holding that the United States Court of Federal Claims does not have jurisdiction over claims for denial ofveterans' benefits). Instead, if the Department of Veterans' Affairs denies a veteran's application for benefits, the veteran may appeal the denial to the Board of Veterans' Appeals ("BVA"). See 38 U.S.C. $ 7l0a(a) ("All questions in a matter which under section 5l l(a) of this title is subject to decision by the Secretary shall be subject to one review on appeal to the Secretary. Final decisions on such appeals shall be made by the [BVA]."). The veteran may appeal decisions by the BVA to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. See 38 U.S.C. $ 7252(a) ("The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims shall have exclusive jurisdiction to review decisions ofthe tBVAl.'). And, the veteran may appeal decisions by the United States Court ofAppeals for Veterans Claims to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. .See 38 U.S.C. $ 7292(c) (granting the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit exclusive jurisdiction to review the denial of veteran benefits by the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims); see a/so Lane v. United Slares, No. l3-571C, at *4 (Fed. Cl. Mar.24,2014) (stating that Section 7292 "specifies the fora where Plaintiff may seek redress for denial of his disability benefits, and [the United States Court of Federal Claimsl is not among them"), aff'd, 573 F. App'x 930 (Fed. Cir. 2014) ("Decisions ofthe Department ofVeteran Affairs may only be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and then to [the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuitl."). In this case, however, the January 30,2014 Complaint fails to allege that Plaintiffs veterans' benefits claims were grounded in a contract, a money-mandating statute, or the Takings Clause ofthe Fifth Amendment. As such, this court has no jurisdiction to adjudicate Plaintiff s veterans' benefits claims. As for Plaintiff s Fifth Amendment Due Process claim, as a matter of law, a plaintiffmust demonstrate that the source ofsubstantive law upon which he or she relies "can fairly be interpreted as mandating compensation by the Federal Government[.]" Testan, 424 U.S. at 400; see also Mitchell,463 U.S. at 216 (same). The Fifth Amendment's Due Process clause is not moneymandating. See Carruthv. United States,627 F.2d 1068, l08l (Ct. Cl. 1980) ("[T]he Due Process . . . guarantees of the Fifth Amendment , . . do not obligate the Federal Government to pay money damages."). As such, the court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate this claim. See LeBIanc v. United States, 50 F.3d 1025, 1028 (Fed. Cir. 1995) (holding that the Court of Claims has no jurisdiction based on Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause). As such, the court also does not have jurisdiction over Plaintil?s Fifth Amendment Due Process claim. in Williams I, Plaintiffwas not convicted of any offense against violating Wisconsin state law. See Williams I,No. l3-645C. As a matter the United States, but of of law, the United States Court of Federal Claims has no authority to adjudicate a claim, unless the United States is party. See 28 U.S.C. $ 1495 ("The United States Court of Federal Claims shall have j urisdiction to renderjudgment upon any claim for damages by any person unjustly convicted ofan offense against the United States and imprisoned."). In this case, Plaintiff does not meet the Finaf ly, as the court stated pursuant to Chapter 37; and matters before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims pursuant to Chapter 72. See 38 U.S.C. S 5l l(b). predicate statutory requirements of 28 U.S.C. $ 25133, because Plaintiffremains imprisoned for violations of Wisconsin state law. Gov't Mot. App. at2. IV. CONCLUSION. For these reasons, the court grants the Government's August 7, 2014 Motion To Dismiss ,See RCFC l2(bxl). The Clerk is directed to dismiss for a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintifls the June 23, 2014 Complaint. IT IS SO ORDERED. r Section 2513 states, in relevant part: (a) Any person suing under Section 1495 (l) ofthis title must allege and prove that: his conviction has been reversed or set aside on the ground that he is not guilty ofthe offense ofwhich he was convicted, or on new trial or rehearing he was found not guilty of such offense, as appe.rs from the record or certificate of the court sefting aside or reversing such conviction[.] 28 U.S.C. $ 25l3 (emphasis added).