McKenzie-El v. Internal Revenue Serv.

Decision Date24 February 2020
Docket NumberCivil Action No. ELH-19-1956
PartiesRIKER MCKENZIE-EL, Plaintiff, v. INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Maryland

Riker McKenzie-El, the self-represented plaintiff, has filed suit against a host of defendants. ECF 1 (the "Complaint"). He seeks, among other things, an order compelling the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") to disclose and release certain agency records and relief from IRS collection actions.

In particular, plaintiff has sued the IRS; IRS officials David Kautter, Ann Willis, and Christine L. Davis; the United States of America (collectively with the IRS defendants, the "United States" or the "Government"); the Ports America Chesapeake, LLC ("PAC"); PAC officer David Burstein; the "Steamship Trade Association/International Longshoremen's Association" ("STA")1; and STA President Michael P. Angelos. Id.2 I shall refer to PAC and Burstein collectively as the "PAC Defendants." And, I shall refer to STA and Angelos collectively, as the "STA Defendants."

The Complaint contains ten counts. Count I alleges a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692. ECF 1, ¶¶ 36-40. Count II asserts a claim under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552. ECF 1, ¶¶ 41-45. Count III alleges a claim of "18 U.S.C. 242 Deprivation of rights under the color of law." ECF 1, ¶¶48-53. Count IV alleges a violation of Mr. McKenzie-El's rights under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Id. ¶¶ 54-61. In Count V, plaintiff asserts violations of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Id. ¶¶ 62-67. Count VI lodges a claim under 26 U.S.C. § 6103. ECF 1, ¶¶ 68-72. Count VII alleges a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 551 et seq. ECF 1, ¶¶ 73-82. Count VIII asserts a claim for "Refund of Garnished Wages and Benefits." Id. ¶¶ 83-87. In Count IX, plaintiff alleges "Declaration Against Exclusive Representation." Id. ¶¶ 88-89. And, Count X alleges a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 241. ECF 1, ¶¶ 90-93. In addition, although not listed as a stand-alone count in the Complaint, plaintiff appears to lodge claims against the individual defendants under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). See ECF 1, ¶¶ 19, 64, 67.

On July 2, 2019, the same day that plaintiff filed his Complaint, he also moved for a temporary restraining order and/or a preliminary injunction. ECF 2. PAC and STA subsequently moved to quash service for insufficiency of service of process. ECF 7; ECF 8. Thereafter, on July 29, 2019, plaintiff filed an amended motion for a temporary restraining order and/or a preliminary injunction. ECF 10. Plaintiff also opposed the motions to quash. ECF 11; ECF 12.

The United States moved to dismiss the Complaint, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and Rule 12(b)(6) (ECF 18), supported by a memorandum. ECF 18-1 (the "Government Motion"). In addition, the PAC Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) (ECF 22), supported by a memorandum. ECF 22-1 (collectively, the "PAC Motion"). So too did the STADefendants (ECF 23), which is also supported by a memorandum. ECF 23-1 (collectively, the "STA Motion"). Plaintiff opposes the motions. ECF 32; ECF 33; ECF 34 (collectively, "Oppositions"). And, defendants have replied. ECF 35; ECF 36; ECF 37.

Throughout this litigation, the Court has also received a steady stream of submissions from the parties. These include plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (ECF 20), which he subsequently amended (ECF 39); defendants' motions to stay discovery and to deny the amended motion for summary judgment as premature (ECF 43; ECF 44; ECF 45); plaintiff's motion for default judgment against the individual IRS defendants (ECF 47), which the Government opposes (ECF 52); and plaintiff's motion for expedited consideration of his request for a preliminary injunction (ECF 55), which he amended. ECF 58.

No hearing is necessary to resolve this matter. See Local Rule 105(6). For the reasons that follow, I shall grant the Government Motion (ECF 18), the PAC Motion (ECF 22), and the STA Motion (ECF 23). Accordingly, all other pending motions shall be denied as moot.

I. Background3

On December 10, 2002, Mr. McKenzie-El filed a Voluntary Petition for Bankruptcy in the District of Maryland. See In re Riker McKenzie, 02-69472, Doc. No. 1 (Bankr. D. Md.). The case was closed on February 20, 2004. See id. at Doc. No. 14. Mr. McKenzie-El filed another bankruptcy petition in the District of Maryland on April 25, 2006. See In re Riker McKenzie, 06-12335, Doc. No. 1 (Bankr. D. Md.).

Mr. McKenzie-El consented to a lift of the automatic stay on March 14, 2007, to permit the Government to bring a suit in district court to reduce to judgment "trust fund recovery penalty assessments" levied against him. See id. at Doc. No. 59. Consequently, on August 31, 2007, the Government brought suit in federal court against Mr. McKenzie-El and the Riker (Rocky) McKenzie Human Development Center, Inc. ("MHDC"), a Baltimore-based corporation. See United States v. Riker (Rocky) McKenzie, JFM-07-2317, ECF 1 (D. Md.).

In the suit, the Government alleged that Mr. McKenzie-El was "required to collect, account for, and pay over taxes required to be withheld from the wages MHDC paid to employees during the fourth quarter of 1995, the second, third, and fourth quarters of 1996, and the first and second quarters of 1997." Id. ¶ 9. Moreover, the Government claimed that a delegate of the Secretary of the Treasury had "assessed against McKenzie a trust fund recovery penalty . . . totaling $93,695.10 based on McKenzie's failure to collect, account for, and pay over taxes" for the requisite quarters. Id. ¶ 11. And, the Government alleged that as of June 24, 2007, MHDC owed employment taxes totaling $279,297.91, "plus interest and statutory additions accruing by law to the date of payment." Id. ¶ 19.

Despite having advance notice of the lawsuit, Mr. McKenzie-El did not answer or otherwise respond to the suit. The United States subsequently requested a default judgment against Mr. McKenzie-El. See id. at ECF 10. Judge J. Frederick Motz, to whom the case was then assigned, entered a default judgment against plaintiff on January 24, 2008, ruling that the United States was entitled to recover from Mr. McKenzie-El "the sum of $121,834.69, together with interest and other statutory additions accruing from January 7, 2008, until paid." See id. at ECF 11. Mr. Mckenzie-El's bankruptcy case was closed shortly thereafter. See In re Riker McKenzie, 06-12335, Doc. No. 99 (Bankr. D. Md.).

The United States initiated garnishment proceedings against plaintiff on February 2, 2009. Riker (Rocky) McKenzie, JFM-07-2317, ECF 13. The Court Clerk issued a "Writ of Continuing Garnishment" to "P&O Ports Baltimore," "STA Containers Royalties," "International Longshoreman's Association," and "STA Vacation & Holiday of Baltimore, Inc." See id. at ECF 14 to ECF 17. Then, on June 9, 2009, Mr. McKenzie-El filed for bankruptcy in the District of Maryland. See In re Riker McKenzie, 09-20363, Doc No. 1 (Bankr. D. Md.).

As a result, Judge Motz stayed the Government's collection activities on July 1, 2009. Riker (Rocky) McKenzie, JFM-07-2317, ECF 25. But, the Court lifted the stay on July 12, 2010, in light of the fact that Mr. McKenzie-El's bankruptcy proceeding had been dismissed for failure to prosecute. See id. at ECF 27; see also In re Riker McKenzie, 09-20363, Doc No. 89. On September 24, 2010, Judge Motz entered an Order directing garnishee STA to turn over to the United States annual royalty payments owed to Mr. McKenzie-El. Riker (Rocky) McKenzie, JFM-07-2317, ECF 35.

On December 10, 2010, prior to the distribution of any royalty payments to the Government, Mr. McKenzie-El filed a bankruptcy petition under Chapter 7. He was discharged on May 25, 2011. In re Riker McKenize, 10-37872, Doc. No. 1, 26.

STA filed an interpleader action on March 29, 2012, to resolve competing claims to the royalty payments sought by both Mr. McKenzie-El and the Government. STA-ILA Container Royalty Fund v. United States, JFM-12-00974, ECF 1 (D. Md.). In its complaint, STA alleged that Mr. McKenzie-El had represented that he had discharged his debt to the Government and that all future royalty payments should be distributed directly to him. Id. ¶ 18. However, the United States also allegedly informed STA that it was entitled to Mr. McKenzie-El's annual royalty payment. Id. ¶ 19.

Litigation ensued, and on July 27, 2012, Judge Motz issued an Order granting summary judgment in favor of the Government and directing STA to distribute to the Government the moneyit owed to Mr. McKenzie-El. STA-ILA Container Royalty Fund, JFM-12-00974, ECF 17. In his Order, Judge Motz stated that Mr. McKenzie-El was "restrained from instituting or prosecuting any proceeding in any State or United States Court against [STA] affecting the funds disputed in this action[.]" Id.

In response, Mr. McKenzie-El filed another bankruptcy petition. See In re Riker Junior McKenize, Jr., 13-26171, Doc. No. 1 (Bankr. D. Md.). The bankruptcy court lifted the stay to allow the garnishment to continue during the bankruptcy proceeding. See id. at Doc. No. 34, 46. Plaintiff's bankruptcy case was dismissed on July 18, 2014. See id. at Doc. No. 61.

Plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit on July 2, 2019. McKenzie-el v. IRS, ELH-19-1956, ECF 1 (D. Md.). According to Mr. McKenzie-El, he satisfied the default judgment granted to the United States on October 20, 2014. Id. ¶ 24. Plaintiff asserts that although he does not owe money to the Government, the IRS assessed interest in the amount of $94,007.00. Id. ¶¶ 25-26. Further, plaintiff alleges that, in an effort to obtain payment, the IRS has "systematically targeted [him] with illegal collection practices," and has "subjected him to numerous, unnecessary, burdensome and unlawful wage garnishments." Id. ...

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