Meuli v. United States, Case No. 11-1044-RDR

CourtUnited States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
Writing for the CourtRichard D. Rogers
PartiesGENE E. MEULI, Plaintiff, v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.
Decision Date07 July 2011
Docket NumberCase No. 11-1044-RDR

GENE E. MEULI, Plaintiff,

Case No. 11-1044-RDR


Dated: July 7, 2011


Plaintiff, pro se, filed this action listing the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service as defendant. Since he filed this case, plaintiff has been permitted to amend the complaint to list the United States as the proper defendant. This case is before the court upon the motion to dismiss of the United States. The government has filed its motion to dismiss pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(1),(5) and (6).

I. Allegations in the amended complaint

In his amended complaint, plaintiff alleges that:

"[C]ertain employees of the IRS did unlawfully levy against my Social Security [b]enefits by falsely alleging that my 2002 Form 1040 [f]ederal [i]ncome tax return was frivolous."
"The IRS violated my [Constitutional [r]ight under Art. 1, Section 9, Clause 4."
"The IRS made a false assessment of my tax liability for 2002."
"The IRS made no assessment in writing for a penalty under sec. 6751."

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Doc. No. 20, pp. 3-4. These are essentially the same allegations as in the original complaint. In response to the United States' motion to dismiss, plaintiff clarifies that he is contesting a March 10, 2010 letter in which the IRS assessed a $5,000.00 penalty against plaintiff for allegedly filing a frivolous 2002 tax return. Doc. No. 9 at p. 3.

In the original complaint, plaintiff asked that the court "order the IRS to release the . . . levy on my Social Security [b]enefits and return all property taken by the IRS . . ." In his amended complaint, plaintiff asks for relief as stated under 26 U.S.C. § 7433. Doc. No. 20 at p. 4.

II. Pro se standards

A pro se litigant's pleadings "are to be construed liberally and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). If plaintiff's pleadings can be reasonably read to state a valid claim on which they could prevail, the court should do so despite a failure to cite proper legal authority or follow normal pleading requirements. Id. But, the court may not provide additional factual allegations "to round out a plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal theory on a plaintiff's behalf." Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997).

III. Motion to dismiss standards

In this order the court shall address the government's

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arguments for dismissal pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(1) and FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(6).1

Regarding motions alleging a lack of jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), it is well-settled that plaintiff bears the burden of showing that jurisdiction is proper and must demonstrate that the case should not be dismissed. U.S. ex rel. Stone v. Rockwell Int'l Corp., 282 F.3d 787, 797 (10th Cir. 2002). Plaintiff must sustain the burden of alleging facts which show jurisdiction and supporting those facts with competent proof. Id. at 797-98. "'Mere conclusory allegations of jurisdiction are not enough.'" Id. at 798 (quoting United States ex rel. Hafter v. Spectrum Emergency Care, Inc., 190 F.3d 1156, 1160 (10th Cir. 1999)). To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must present factual allegations, assumed to be true, that "raise a right to relief above the speculative level" and must contain "enough facts to state a claim to 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 plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). "[A]llegations of conclusions or opinions are not sufficient when no facts are

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alleged by way of the statement of the claim." Bryan v. Stillwater Board of Realtors, 578 F.2d 1319, 1321 (10th Cir. 1977).

The court has the authority to raise issues regarding the failure to state a claim, whether or not those issues are asserted in the motions to dismiss. See Whitney, 113 F.3d at 1173.

IV. Jurisdiction/Sovereign immunity

The United States contends in this case that it has not consented to be sued under the statutes alleged by plaintiff and that plaintiff cannot find or prove an explicit waiver of sovereign immunity. This case must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction if the government prevails in this argument.

"Absent a waiver, sovereign immunity shields the Federal Government and its agencies from suit." FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475 (1994). "Sovereign immunity is jurisdictional in nature. Indeed, the 'terms of [the United States'] consent to be sued in any court define that court's jurisdiction to entertain the suit.'" Id., (quoting U.S. v. Sherwood, 312 U.S. 584, 586 (1941). As the Tenth Circuit explained in Fostvedt v. United States, 978 F.2d 1201 (10th Cir. 1992) cert. denied, 507 U.S. 988 (1993), plaintiff must establish an explicit waiver of sovereign immunity in order to sue the United States:

The United States may not be sued without its consent. Such a waiver of sovereign immunity must be strictly construed in favor of the sovereign and may not be extended beyond the explicit language of the statute. It long has been established that the United States, as sovereign, is immune from suit save as it consents to be

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sued and the terms of its consent to be sued in any court define that court's jurisdiction to entertain suit. A waiver of sovereign immunity cannot be implied, but must be explicitly expressed. . . .
The burden is on the taxpayer to find and prove an explicit waiver of sovereign immunity.

Id. at 1202-03 (internal quotations and citations omitted).

In his amended complaint, plaintiff has cited the following statutes to support plaintiff's claim of jurisdiction in this case: 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343; and 26 U.S.C. §§ 408(d)(3), 3401, 6201, 6203, 6331(a), 6702, 6751(b)(1), 7433, 7491 and 7701(a). He also makes reference to the Constitution. For its part, the United States discusses but asks the court to reject 26 U.S.C. § 7422 as an applicable waiver of sovereign immunity in this case.

Upon the current record on file, the court finds that there is no explicit waiver...

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