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Scheuering v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. New York

December 4, 2014

CARLA SCHEUERING, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, HENRY, SLAUGHTER, JIM GRIMES, MAUREEN GREEN, MAUREEN A JUDGE, BILL R. BANOWSKY, VANES SA FLEMING, GERARD BOUCHER, ESTHER GONZALEZ, REBECCA DETORO, and LAYNE CARVER, Defendants.

OPINION & ORDER

NELSON S. ROMN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Carl A Scheuering ("Plaintiff") commenced this action by complaint filed February 13, 2014, and amended complaint filed March 19, 2014, against: the United States of America, Henry Slaughter, Jim Grimes, Maureen Green, Maureen A. Judge, Bill R. Banowsky, Esther Gonzalez, Rebecca Detoro, and Layne Carver (the "Federal Defendants"); and Vanessa Fleming and Gerard Boucher (the "Non-Federal Defendants, " and together with the Federal Defendants, "Defendants").

The individual Federal Defendants are employees of the United States Internal Revenue Service (the "IRS"), and are sued here in their official and individual capacities. The Non-Federal Defendants are employees of The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation ("DTCC"), where Plaintiff once worked. The action challenges the IRS's authority to levy income taxes against Plaintiff, and likewise challenges DTCC's garnishment of Plaintiff's wages upon

Defendants now move to dismiss the complaint in its entirety pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS the two pending motions to dismiss (dkt. nos. 63, 68) and dismisses this action in its entirety.

I. COMPLAINT

Plaintiff commenced this action in New York State Supreme Court, County of Orange, on or about January 14, 2014. The action was removed to this Court on February 13, 2014. On March 3, 2014 (and by supplemental orders dated March 13, 2014 and May 23, 2014), the Court substituted the United States of America in place of the individual Federal Defendants as the proper defendant for all state law claims asserted against federal employees. See dkt. nos. 9, 14. Plaintiff amended his complaint on March 19, 2014 (dkt. no. 15), adding Layne Carver as an additional defendant, and the amended complaint is the operative one.

The amended complaint asserts six causes of action. Common to each of the six is the allegation that Defendants assessed and sought to collect income taxes from Plaintiff without legal authority, thus infringing on Plaintiff's right to property, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. See Amended Complaint ("Compl.") ¶¶ 6-8. Plaintiff also contends that the IRS is a Delaware corporation unlawfully acting under color of law as a government agency. Id. ¶¶ 15-18. And Plaintiff alleges that no part of the Internal Revenue Code requires him to file a tax return or pay taxes. See Affidavit of Carl A. Scheuering in Support of Action at Law (dkt. no. 15) ¶ 2.

Plaintiff's first cause of action alleges that defendant Slaughter, an IRS Field Director, incorrectly presumed Plaintiff to be a "statutory taxpayer" and sent him a letter of "intimidation" demanding that taxes be paid. Compl. ¶ 21. Based on that correspondence from Slaughter, Plaintiff seeks relief under the New York Civil Rights Law, federal civil rights statutes (e.g., 42 U.S.C. § 1983), and certain federal criminal statutes. Id. ¶¶ 24-26.

Plaintiff's second cause of action alleges that defendants Green, Slaughter, Grimes, Banowsky, and Carver "exceeded their jurisdiction" and breached their duties by mailing Plaintiff tax examination letters and notices of deficiency. Id. ¶¶ 28-45. Plaintiff again seeks relief under the New York Civil Rights Law, federal civil rights statutes, and federal criminal statutes. Id. ¶¶ 45-47.

Plaintiff's third, fourth, and fifth causes of action each allege that Defendants' tax collection efforts - filing a lien, levying wages, and causing employer withholding - amounted to "trespass on the case." Id. ¶¶ 50-51, 65, 74. Here too, Plaintiff seeks relief under the New York Civil Rights Law, federal civil rights statutes, and federal criminal statutes, and Plaintiff also seeks relief pursuant to the Uniform Commercial Code. Id. ¶¶ 57-59, 69-71, 79-81.

Plaintiff's sixth cause of action alleges that "[e]ach defendant is an agent of the other, and each has his place in the chain of exposing plaintiff to the actors, " and thus "[e]ach defendant is vicariously liable for each instance of injury to plaintiff." Id. ¶ 86.

II. MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARDS

"A case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) when the district court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it." Nike, Inc. v. Already, LLC, 663 F.3d 89, 94 (2d Cir. 2011) (internal quotation omitted). "A plaintiff asserting subject matter jurisdiction has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that it exists." Morrison v. Nat'l Australia Bank Ltd., 547 F.3d 167, 170 (2d Cir. 2008). In assessing whether there is subject matter jurisdiction, the Court must accept as true all material facts alleged in the complaint, Conyers v. Rossides, 558 F.3d 137, 143 (2d Cir. 2009), but "the court may resolve [any] disputed jurisdictional fact issues by referring to evidence outside the pleadings such as affidavits, Zappia Middle E. Contr. Co. v. Emirate of Abu Dhabi, 215 F.3d 247, 253 (2d Cir. 2000).

Under Rule 12(b)(6), the inquiry is whether the complaint "contain[s] 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 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); accord Hayden v. Paterson, 594 F.3d 150, 160 (2d Cir. 2010). The Court, again, must take all material factual allegations as true and draw reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor, but the Court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Id. at 679. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint, "a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they ...


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