Jacobus v. Huerta

Decision Date22 February 2013
Docket NumberCase No. 3:12-cv-02032
PartiesHANK JACOBUS, Plaintiff, v. MICHAEL HUERTA, FAA Administrator Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of West Virginia

Plaintiff, Hank Jacobus ("Jacobus"), filed a pro se Complaint against Michael Huerta, in his official capacity as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), alleging claims of stalking, retaliation, invasion of privacy, negligence, and defamation. (ECF No. 2). Jacobus subsequently amended the Complaint, restating the same causes of action and adding alleged violations of his constitutional rights guaranteed by the Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. (ECF No. 23).

Currently pending before the Court are Plaintiff's Petitions for Injunction, (ECF Nos. 18, 24); Plaintiff's Petition to Add a Defendant, (ECF No. 26); and Defendant's Renewed Motion to Dismiss the Complaint. (ECF No. 25). This matter is assigned to the Honorable Robert C. Chambers, United States District Judge, and is referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for total pretrial management and submission of proposed findings of fact and recommendations for disposition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). For the reasons set forth herein, the undersigned recommendsthat Plaintiff's Petitions for Injunction and to add a Defendant be denied and his Complaint, as amended, be dismissed in its entirety, with prejudice, for failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted.

I. Fact Summary

Jacobus alleges that he has been the target of constant government-facilitated surveillance and harassment over the past three and a half years. (ECF Nos. 2, 18, 19, 23). According to Jacobus, on September 12, 2009, he was involved in an argument with an unidentified pilot at a small, private South Charleston, West Virginia airport. Jacobus reports that he objected to the pilot's "low banking takeoffs," (ECF No. 2 at 2, ECF No. 19 at 1), and asked the pilot "if he'd be safer" when flying over nearby homes. The pilot "refused and was very angry." (ECF No. 2 at 2). Jacobus then complained to "the local tower," as well as the owner of the airport. (Id.). Jacobus claims that since this incident, he has been subjected to continuous surveillance by aircraft, satellite, and unmanned drones, (ECF No. 2 at 2; ECF No. 8 at 2; ECF No. 18 at 1-2; ECF No. 19 at 1-2; ECF No. 23 at 1), police surveillance (ECF No. 8 at 3), and harassment in the form of airplanes regularly passing overhead or "buzzing" his home. (ECF No. 2 at 2-3; ECF No. 8 at 1). Jacobus alleges that both private planes and commercial jetliners have followed him around the country, repeatedly flying over all nine of the residences he has held in the last three years. (ECF No 2. at 3-5; ECF No. 2-1). Moreover, drones, spy planes, and military aircraft have been deployed to spy on him when he works on his house or goes on camping vacations. (ECF No. 2 at 2; ECF No. 8 at 2; ECF No. 23 at 1).

Jacobus contends that following his argument in September 2009, the pilot reported Jacobus to the FAA as a security threat. (ECF No. 18 at 1; ECF No. 19 at 2: ECF No. 23 at 1). Jacobus complains that the FAA failed to investigate the pilot's chargesbefore it "accepted a serious false accusation against [him]."1 (ECF No. 19 at 1). Moreover, according to Jacobus, the FAA failed to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) so that a proper investigation could be conducted. (ECF No. 18 at 1). Instead, Jacobus believes that the FAA recklessly forwarded his name to the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) or the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC),2 which resulted in his name being placed on a federal security/terrorist watch list. (ECF No. 20 at 2, ECF No. 23 at 1). Jacobus complains that despite having written to the FAA on six occasions, he has never been informed of the evidence that led to his name being placed on the watch list, nor has he been provided with an opportunity to defend himself. (ECF No. 18 at 1, ECF No. 23 at 1-2). Jacobus also alleges that the FAA "gave out [his] exact locations to [General Aviation]3 pilots everywhere [he] went," (ECF No. 18 at 1), which "caused local pilots to buzz [his] roofs everywhere he lived and traveled." (ECF No. 19 at 2).

II. The Evolution of Plaintiff's Allegations and Procedural History

In his original Complaint filed on June 13, 2012, Jacobus alleged that the FAA "incited private pilots in 4 states, by knowingly [spreading] false rumors, to harass him daily." (ECF No. 2 at 1). According to Jacobus, these pilots spied on him and routinely buzzed his home after being told by a few FAA "offenders" that Jacobus had threatened the owner of a South Charleston airport. Jacobus contended that these false rumors were spread in retaliation for his 2009 complaint about the unidentified pilot's unsafe take-offs. Jacobus also claimed that the FAA intentionally routed jetliners over his various residences and sent drones and spy planes to follow him. Finally, Jacobus indicated that the FAA was tracking his every movement, surmising that GPS or "guidance systems" were being used for real-time stalking. (Id. at 3-5). For relief, Jacobus asked that the Court order the FAA to "tell all pilots" that Jacobus had never made any threats. (Id. at 5).

In a document entitled "Addition 2," filed on July 24, 2012, Jacobus claimed that law enforcement officers had begun to follow him as a result of the false rumors started by the FAA. (ECF No. 8 at 3). He complained that "loud choppers" hovered "exactly overhead" and drones incessantly spied on him, and that all of this surveillance was subsidized by "Homeland Security." (Id.).

On August 24, 2012, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss Jacobus's complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and (6), or for a More Definite Statement (ECF No. 12). Plaintiff filed a response to the Motion to Dismiss and also filed a Petition for an Injunction. (ECF Nos. 18, 19, 20). In the Petition for Injunction, filed on September 10, 2012, Jacobus alleged that the FAA provided General Aviation pilots with his address "everywhere [he] went" and continued to route commercial jetliners over his residences and campsites to harass him. (ECF No. 18 at 1). Jacobus asserted that while camping 450 miles away from home, he learned that he had been placed on "watch lists as a threat." (Id.). He argued that the Government used satellites to surveil him without due process of law and in violation of the federal anti-stalking statute. Once again, Jacobus claimed that law enforcement was able to actively watch him with funds supplied through "a Homeland Security Grant." (Id. at 2). In his request for relief, Jacobus sought a court order removing his name from any and all watch lists and to "stop the FAA calling on [him]." (Id. at 3).

In a "Final Amendment," filed on September 13, 2012, Jacobus contended that his Fourth Amendment right to be free of warrantless searches was being violated by the Government. (ECF No. 19). He repeated that the FAA accepted a false accusation against him, which resulted in his inclusion on a national terrorist watch list. (Id. at 2). Jacobus reasserted his claim that the FAA continued to spread false rumors that he threatened an airport owner and provided private pilots with his addresses so that they could harass and stalk him. In Jacobus's view, he had been "secretly charged with a crime, (making terrorist threats), serious enough to cause this intense, three year, open surveil [sic]. He's been secretly found guilty, with no due process. Punishment was weekly low flying gas cans exactly over his homes and more already described." (Id.) He asked the Court to order his name removed from the watch list and to hear his constitutional claims. (Id. at 3).

The undersigned conducted an initial status conference on October 5, 2012. After a lengthy discussion with the parties, the Court denied Defendant's dismissal motion, without prejudice, but granted his motion for a more definite statement. (ECF No. 22). Thus, Jacobus filed an Amended Complaint on November 5, 2012. (ECF No. 23). In this pleading, Jacobus reiterated that the FAA accepted false accusations against him and, without investigating their accuracy, reported him to the Terrorist Screening Agency. As a result, Jacobus "has unjustly been [placed] on the terrorist watch list and punished, ever since" with relentless surveillance. (Id. at 1). Jacobus also contended that multiple unidentified FAA staff members inflicted their own punishment on him by diverting and directing commercial jetliners over his locations in three states for over 35 months. (Id. at 3). In his request for relief, Jacobus asked the Court to order the FAA or Terrorist Screening Agency to explain to him why he was placed on the terrorist watch list, to notifyhim that he had been removed from the watch list, "to cease notifying small plane pilots of his whereabouts," and to correct the false rumors about him. (Id.). In addition, Jacobus sought money damages in an amount between "$1.00 to $9,999" or as set by the Court. (Id.).

On November 14, 2012, Jacobus filed a second petition for injunctive relief. (ECF No. 24), in which he requested that the Court order the FAA to stop notifying "small plane pilots" of his whereabouts. Again, Jacobus claimed that he was improperly placed on a watch list for "known or highly suspected terrorists" with "no police or FBI investigation and much evidence to the contrary." (Id.). The following day, Defendant renewed his Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 25). Jacobus did not respond to the renewed motion, but did file a petition seeking to add as a defendant the "high altitude control center boss in the Indianapolis radar center," who allegedly supervises the air traffic controllers that route Air Force jets and other aircraft over Jacobus's current residence 50-75 times each day and ...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT