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Martinez v. Berryhill

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Brownsville Division

August 28, 2017

ALMA PATRICIA MARTINEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of United States Social Security Administration, and the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, [1] Defendants.

          Rolaffdo Olvera United States District Judge

         The present case arises from the Social Security Administration's (hereafter "Administration") denial of Alma Patricia Martinez's (hereafter "Plaintiff) application for a social security card. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1503(a) and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202. Before the court is the "Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation" (hereafter "R&R") (Docket No. 23). For the reasons stated below, the R&R is ADOPTED.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND[2]

         Plaintiff has two birth certificates. Plaintiffs Texas Birth Certificate lists Plaintiffs birth as occurring September 21, 1993, in Brownsville, Texas. Plaintiffs Baptism Certificate confirms said birth date and location. Plaintiffs Mexican Birth Certificate lists Plaintiffs birth as occurring on the same date in Pachuca, Mexico.[3]

         Plaintiff previously sued the federal government. On October 19, 2009, the Department of State (hereafter "DOS") denied Plaintiffs United States passport application. On May 24, 2013, Plaintiff filed suit in federal court challenging said denial and seeking a declaration of United States citizenship. Prior to the start of the trial, DOS issued Plaintiff a passport and the District Court dismissed the case as moot.

         Subsequent to said dismissal, Plaintiff applied for a social security card. On June 22, 2016, the Administration denied Plaintiffs application because Plaintiff did not file the appropriate documents to "show age, " and Plaintiffs Texas Birth Certificate had a "lock" placed on it by the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics. On June 23, 2016, Plaintiff sued the Administration. On November 11, 2016, the Administration issued Plaintiff a social security card.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On June 23, 2016, Plaintiff filed her "Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (Docket No. 1). On June 30, 2016, Plaintiff filed her "First Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (Docket No. 4). On November 30, 2016, Defendants filed "Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure" (Docket No. 17). On December 21, 2016, Plaintiff filed "Plaintiffs Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Instant Action as Moot" (Docket No. 22).

         On May 19, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued the "Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation" (Docket No. 23). On June 17, 2017, Plaintiff filed "Plaintiffs Objections to the Report and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate" (Docket No. 26). On August 1, 2017, the Court issued an "Order" (Docket No. 27), ordering the parties to supplement the record. On August 11, 2017, Defendants filed "Defendants' Supplemental Response Brief (Docket No. 28). Plaintiff did not respond to the Court's Order.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A complaint may be dismissed for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). "To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead 'enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Courts accept "all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Martin K. Eby Const. Co. v. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004) (quoting Jones v. Greninger, 188 F.3d 322, 324 (5th Cir. 1999)). "[C]onclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as factual conclusions will not suffice to prevent a motion to dismiss." Fernandez-Montes v. Allied Pilots Ass 'n, 987 F.2d 278, 284 (5th Cir. 1993).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         The R&R recommends dismissing Plaintiffs 8 U.S.C. § 1503(a) claim as moot. Docket No. 23 at 9. According to the R&R, the Administration's issuance of a social security card to Plaintiff renders her case moot, and the voluntary cessation exception to the mootness doctrine does not salvage her claim. Id. at 5, 8-9.

         The mootness doctrine is a limit to federal jurisdiction. Iron Arrow Honor Society v. Heckler,464 U.S. 67, 70 (1983) (citing DeFunis v. Odegaard,416 U.S. 312, 316 (1974)).[4] "[A] case is moot when the issues presented are no longer 'live' or the parties lack a legally cognizable interest in the outcome." Powell v. McCormack,395 U.S. 486, 496 (1969). Mootness is "the doctrine of standing set in a time frame: The requisite personal interest that must exist at the commencement of the litigation (standing) must continue throughout its existence (mootness)." Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs. (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 189 (2000) (quoting Arizonans for Official English v. Arizona,520 U.S. 43, 68 n.22 (1997)). "Generally, any set of circumstances ...


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