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ACKERS v. UNITED NATIONS

United States District Court, E.D. New York


April 8, 2005.

GREGORY ACKERS, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED NATIONS; KOFI ANNAAN; KOJO ANNAAN; BENON SEVAN; COTECNA; FRANCE et al.; RUSSIA et al.; CHINA et al.; SADDAM HUSSEIN; IRAQUI BAATH PTY., Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: FREDERIC BLOCK, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff files the present action pro se on behalf of a class of persons alleging that the United Nations's "Oil for Food" program led to war and the reconstruction of Iraq which, to date, "has cost U.S. taxpayers 200 billion [dollars]"; plaintiff seeks 600 billion dollars in damages.*fn1 See Compl. at 3-4. The Court grants plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, but dismisses the action because the plaintiff lacks standing. DISCUSSION

  In reviewing plaintiff's complaint, the Court is mindful that because plaintiff is proceeding pro se, his submissions should be held "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers[,]" Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980); McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197 (2d Cir. 2004); "the obligation to read the pleadings of a pro se plaintiff liberally and interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest, extends to the question of standing. . . ." Lerman v. Board of Elections in City of N.Y., 232 F.3d 135, 142 n. 8 (2d Cir. 2000) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), however, a district court shall dismiss an in forma pauperis action where it is satisfied that the action is "(i) frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief."

  "In order to have standing under Article III, [the plaintiff] must demonstrate that (1) [he] has suffered an injury in fact that is concrete and particularized as well as actual or imminent, rather than conjectural or hypothetical; (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct; and (3) it is likely, rather than merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision." Lerman, 232 F.3d at 142. Although the Court recognizes that the plaintiff has concerns about the implementation of the Oil for Food program and the war and reconstruction in Iraq, he has not alleged that he has suffered an injury in fact from the program; the only conceivable injury that the plaintiff may have suffered stems from his role as a United States taxpayer. Standing as a taxpayer, however, is permissible under very narrow circumstances.

 

The nexus demanded of federal taxpayers has two aspects to it. First, the taxpayer must establish a logical link between that status and the type of legislative enactment attacked. Thus, a taxpayer will be a proper party to allege the unconstitutionality only of exercises of congressional power under the taxing and spending clause of Art. I, s 8, of the Constitution. It will not be sufficient to allege an incidental expenditure of tax funds in the administration of an essentially regulatory statute. . . . Secondly, the taxpayer must establish a nexus between that status and the precise nature of the constitutional infringement alleged. Under this requirement, the taxpayer must show that the challenged enactment exceeds specific constitutional limitations imposed upon the exercise of the congressional taxing and spending power and not simply that the enactment is generally beyond the powers delegated to Congress by Art. I, s 8.
Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 102-03 (1968) (internal citations and quotations omitted); see also Board of Educ. of Mt. Sinai Union Free School Dist. v. New York State Teachers Retirement System, 60 F.3d 106, 110 (2d Cir. 1995). Plaintiff cannot establish the first aspect of the nexus requirement because he challenges actions by the United Nations — not by Congress.

  Since the Court finds that the plaintiff failed to allege a basis for standing, it does not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear this case. See In re United States Catholic Conference, 885 F.2d at 1023 ("when a plaintiff lacks standing to bring suit, a court has no subject matter jurisdiction over the case").

  CONCLUSION

  Whereas, ordinarily, the Court would allow plaintiff an opportunity to amend his complaint, see Cruz v. Gomez, 202 F.3d 593 (2d Cir. 2000), it need not afford that opportunity here where it is clear from the face of the complaint that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, plaintiff's complaint is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). For the purpose of an appeal, the Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this order would not be taken in good faith. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45 (1962).

  SO ORDERED.


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