Satterlee v. Comm'r of Internal Revenue

Decision Date05 July 2016
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 15-1387 (ABJ)
Citation195 F.Supp.3d 327
Parties Ronald Leroy SATTERLEE, Plaintiff, v. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia

Ronald Leroy Satterlee, Ava, MO, pro se.

Ryan O'Connor McMonagle, U.S. Department of Justice Ben Franklin Station, Mitchell Howard Stabbe, Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP, Washington, DC, Nicholas Ryan Johnson, Seth C. Berenzweig, Berenzweig Leonard, LLP, McLean, VA, Reed Lock Russell, Phelps Dunbar LLP, Tampa, FL, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

AMY BERMAN JACKSON, United States District Judge

Plaintiff Ronald Leroy Satterlee has brought this action against the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS"), the State of California Franchise Tax Board ("Tax Board"), First Home Savings Bank ("First Home Bank"), and Granite Services International Inc. ("Granite Services"), alleging that defendants created "false and fraudulent security instruments" and wrongfully converted plaintiff's property by collecting federal income tax from him. Compl. [Dkt. # 1] at 3; see also Pl.'s Br. in Supp. of Compl. & Cause of Action [Dkt. # 1-1] ("Pl.'s Br."). The IRS, First Home Bank, and Granite Services have each moved to dismiss plaintiff's claims against them.1 Def. First Home Bank's Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. # 4] ("First Home Bank Mot."); Granite Services' Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. # 14] ("Granite Services Mot."); IRS's Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. # 23] ("IRS Mot.").

Plaintiff's complaint—and the sixty-three page "Brief in Support of Complaint and Cause of Action" he filed along with it—utterly fail to satisfy the Rule 8 requirements that a pleading set forth "a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction" and "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(1)(2). Furthermore, to the extent the Court can distill a cause of action from plaintiff's filings, his claims fail for a number of reasons. Accordingly, defendants' motions will be granted, and this case will be dismissed in its entirety with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was employed by defendant Granite Services. Pl.'s Br. at 2. While working for Granite Services, plaintiff claimed on his federal income tax form W-4 that he was exempt from the withholding of federal income taxes. Id. at 3. In September 2008, the IRS concluded that plaintiff was not exempt from federal income taxes, and it directed Granite Services, as plaintiff's employer, to begin withholding amounts for plaintiff's federal income tax obligations at the correct rate. Id. at 3–4; Ex. B to Compl. [Dkt. # 1-1].

One year later, the IRS issued a "Notice of Levy on Wages, Salary, and Other Income" to Granite Services, seeking $215,864.04 for plaintiff's unpaid federal income tax liabilities and outstanding civil penalties for the period of 1998 to 2003. Pl.'s Br. at 17; Ex. C to Compl. [Dkt. # 1- 1]. On June 20, 2011, Granite Services notified plaintiff that it would be withholding income tax from his wages at the IRS's request. Pl.'s Br. at 17–18; Ex. E to Compl. [Dkt. # 1-1]; Ex. F to Compl. [Dkt. # 1-1]. Plaintiff responded on June 27, 2011, claiming that the IRS's enforcement statutes have "no force of law against anyone [like plaintiff] who is not part of the government," and directing Granite Services not to comply with the IRS's instructions. Ex. J to Compl. [Dkt. # 1-1]. On September 4, 2012, the IRS sent a revised levy notice to Granite Services, including additional tax liabilities for 2004 through 2008. Pl.'s Br. at 57; Ex. T to Compl. [Dkt. # 1-1].

The IRS also levied upon plaintiff's bank account with First Home Bank, issuing a levy notice on November 2, 2009 in the amount of $221,855.89 for the period of 1998 through 2003. Pl.'s Br. at 5; Ex. D to Compl. [Dkt. # 1-1]. First Home Bank notified plaintiff of the levy on November 2, 2009, and the IRS levied $11,875.51 from plaintiff's bank account. Pl.'s Br. at 16; Ex. D to Compl.

Plaintiff filed his complaint and his brief in support on August 24, 2015. Compl. He alleges that the IRS's levies are "fraudulent" because the IRS "is without authority to create 1040 form Substitute for Returns, declare what is or is not ‘Income,’ declare Federal wages where none exist, or bestow Federal Employment upon a non federal, non statutory private workers [sic] who does NOT earn Federal Wages and provides NO Federal Service whatsoever." Pl.'s Br. at 41. He also insists that the "IRS is without authority to override plaintiffs sworn statement on plaintiffs w-4 form." Id. at 42. Plaintiff "demands judgment," actual damages, and punitive damages against the defendants for their alleged misconduct. Compl. at 3, 5–6, 8.

The IRS, Granite Services, and First Home Bank have each moved to dismiss plaintiff's claims against them in their entirety. First Home Bank Mot.; Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of First Home Bank Mot. [Dkt. # 5] ("First Home Bank Mem."); Granite Services Mot.; Mem. in Supp. of Granite Services Mot. [Dkt. # 15] ("Granite Services Mem."); IRS Mot.; Mem. in Supp. of IRS Mot. [Dkt. # 23-1] ("IRS Mem."). The Tax Board has not responded to plaintiff's complaint.

STANDARD OF REVIEW
I. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Under Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. See Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife , 504 U.S. 555, 561, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992) ; Shekoyan v. Sibley Int'l Corp. , 217 F.Supp.2d 59, 63 (D.D.C.2002). Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and the law presumes that "a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am. , 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994) ; see also Gen. Motors Corp. v. EPA , 363 F.3d 442, 448 (D.C.Cir.2004) ("As a court of limited jurisdiction, we begin, and end, with an examination of our jurisdiction."). "[B]ecause subject-matter jurisdiction is ‘an Art[icle] III as well as a statutory requirement ... no action of the parties can confer subject-matter jurisdiction upon a federal court.’ " Akinseye v. District of Columbia , 339 F.3d 970, 971 (D.C.Cir.2003), quoting Ins. Corp. of Ir., Ltd. v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee , 456 U.S. 694, 702, 102 S.Ct. 2099, 72 L.Ed.2d 492 (1982).

When considering a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, unlike when deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court "is not limited to the allegations of the complaint." Hohri v. United States , 782 F.2d 227, 241 (D.C.Cir.1986), vacated on other grounds , 482 U.S. 64, 107 S.Ct. 2246, 96 L.Ed.2d 51 (1987).

Rather, "a court may consider such materials outside the pleadings as it deems appropriate to resolve the question [of] whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case." Scolaro v. D.C. Bd. of Elections & Ethics , 104 F.Supp.2d 18, 22 (D.D.C.2000), citing Herbert v. Nat'l Acad. of Scis. , 974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C.Cir.1992) ; see also Jerome Stevens Pharm. , Inc. v. FDA , 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C.Cir.2005).

II. Personal Jurisdiction

The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over each defendant. Crane v. N.Y. Zoological Soc'y , 894 F.2d 454, 456 (D.C.Cir.1990). In order to survive a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the "plaintiff must make a prima facie showing of the pertinent jurisdictional facts." First Chi. Int'l v. United Exch. Co. , 836 F.2d 1375, 1378 (D.C.Cir.1988). To show that personal jurisdiction exists, the plaintiff must allege specific acts connecting the defendant with the forum. In re Papst Licensing GMBH & Co. KG Litig. , 590 F.Supp.2d 94, 97–98 (D.D.C.2008), citing Second Amendment Found. v. U.S. Conference of Mayors , 274 F.3d 521, 524 (D.C.Cir.2001). Plaintiff "cannot rely on conclusory allegations" to establish personal jurisdiction. Atlantigas Corp. v. Nisource, Inc. , 290 F.Supp.2d 34, 42 (D.D.C.2003).

"A court may consider material outside of the pleadings in ruling on a motion to dismiss for lack of ... personal jurisdiction." Artis v. Greenspan , 223 F.Supp.2d 149, 152 (D.D.C.2002), citing Land v. Dollar , 330 U.S. 731, 735 n. 4, 67 S.Ct. 1009, 91 L.Ed. 1209 (1947). However, "the plaintiff is not required to adduce evidence that meets the standards of admissibility reserved for summary judgment and trial; rather, [plaintiff] may rest [its] arguments on the pleadings, ‘bolstered by such affidavits and other written materials as [it] can otherwise obtain.’ " Urban Inst. v. FINCON Servs. , 681 F.Supp.2d 41, 44 (D.D.C.2010), quoting Mwani v. bin Laden , 417 F.3d 1, 7 (D.C.Cir.2005). Any factual discrepancies should be resolved in favor of the plaintiff. Crane , 894 F.2d at 456. But the Court need not treat all of the plaintiff's jurisdictional allegations as true. United States v. Philip Morris Inc. , 116 F.Supp.2d 116, 120 n. 4 (D.D.C.2000). "Instead, the court may receive and weigh affidavits and any other relevant matter to assist it in determining the jurisdictional facts." In re Papst Licensing , 590 F.Supp.2d at 98 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

III. Failure to State a Claim

"To survive a [Rule 12(b)(6) ] motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’ " Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009), quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). A claim is facially plausible when the pleaded factual content "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. , citing Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955. "The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,’ but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. , quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955. A pleading must offer more than "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the...

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