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Anthony of the Family Baker v. Dallas County Texas

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

March 11, 2019




         This civil rights action filed by a plaintiff proceeding pro se but not in forma pauperis has been referred to the undersigned United States magistrate judge for pretrial management under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and a standing order of reference from Senior United States District Judge Sam R. Cummings.

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court granted Defendant Dallas County's motion to dismiss [Dkt. No. 15] and dismissed this action without prejudice to Plaintiff Anthony of the Family Baker's (“Baker”) right to file an amended complaint, see Dkt. Nos. 24 & 26.

         Baker filed a timely amended complaint. See Dkt. No. 27. And Dallas County again moves to dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). See Dkt. No. 34. Baker responded to that motion. See Dkt. No. 37. And Dallas County filed a reply brief. See Dkt. No. 39.

         After Dallas County's motion became ripe, several other individuals and entities associated with Dallas County, in response to summonses that Baker obtained and had served, filed two more motions to dismiss under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). See Dkt. Nos. 43 & 44.

         The undersigned enters these findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation that, for the reasons explained below - and without the need to take up the other motions to dismiss - the Court should grant Dallas County's motion under Rule 12(b)(1) and dismiss the action without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         Applicable Background

         Alleging that the defendants violated his constitutional rights and deprived him of property, Baker brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Dallas County and other entities, identified as “45 C.F.R. § 75.2 Contractor Dallas County Texas; 45 C.F.R. § 75.2 Contractor Dallas County Child Support Office; 45 C.F.R. § 75.2 Contractor Dallas County Family Court; 45 C.F.R. § 75.2 Contractor Dallas County Family Court Judge in his/her Official and Private Capacity; 45 C.F.R. § 75.2 Contractor Dallas County Family Clerk of Court in his/her Official and Private Capacity; 45 C.F.R. § 75.2 Contractor Dallas County Sheriff's Department in his/her Official and Private Capacity.” See generally Dkt. No. 27; see, e.g., id. at 1, 12 (“A. Baker did not devote his honestly acquired income to the Defendant's use or grant them the right to control that use whenever their needs require. However, his honestly acquired income, private property was taken for public use and federal profits without just compensation.” (citation omitted)); id. at 13-14 (requesting as relief that the Court “terminate the private for profit contractual non-judicial IV-D Collections Case effective immediately, to end the deprivation of his rights, privileges and immunities and to uphold his rights to provide for his offspring in private, ” that he receive punitive damages in the amount of $1, 000, 000 against defendants named, that he be given a “full refund of what's been taken/ordered he pay from his honestly acquired income against each defendant, that “a judgement be entered in his favor for Dallas County's 34 percent share of federal profits as well as penalties and 18 percent interest, that all negative reporting to all credit bureau's be removed, that he receive $5, 000.00 from each defendant for all legal fees, and that he receives “a letter of apology from each defendant.”)).

         In sum, Baker seeks to use this civil rights action to change (or escape from) the child-support obligations imposed on him by a state court and to obtain damages based on those previously imposed obligations.

         Legal Standards and Analysis

         “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and absent jurisdiction conferred by statute, lack the power to adjudicate claims.” Stockman v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 138 F.3d 144, 151 (5th Cir. 1998). As such, the Court must dismiss a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction “when the court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate the case.” Home Builders Ass'n of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998) (quoting Nowak v. Ironworkers Local 6 Pension Fund, 81 F.3d 1182, 1187 (2d Cir. 1996)). The Court will not assume it has jurisdiction. Rather, “the basis upon which jurisdiction depends must be alleged affirmatively and distinctly and cannot be established argumentatively or by mere inference.” Getty Oil Corp. v. Ins. Co. of N.A., 841 F.2d 1254, 1259 (5th Cir. 1988) (citing Ill. Cent. Gulf R. Co. v. Pargas, Inc., 706 F.2d 633, 636 & n.2 (5th Cir. 1983)).

         “The burden of proof for a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss is on the party asserting jurisdiction. Accordingly, the plaintiff constantly bears the burden of proof that jurisdiction does in fact exist” in any case originally filed in federal court. Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001) (per curiam) (citations omitted). And where, like here, a defendant files a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, the attack is presumptively “facial, ” and the Court need look only to the sufficiency of the allegations of the plaintiff's complaint, or on the complaint as supplemented by undisputed facts, all of which are presumed to be true. See Paterson v. Weinberger, 644 F.2d 521, 523 (5th Cir. May 1981).

         A “factual” attack on jurisdiction, however, is based on affidavits, testimony, and other evidentiary material. See Id. Under such an attack, the Court “is empowered to consider matters of fact which may be in dispute, ” Ramming, 281 F.3d at 161, and, to oppose the Rule 12(b)(1) motion, “a plaintiff is also required to submit facts through some evidentiary method and has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the trial court does have subject matter jurisdiction, ” Paterson, 644 F.2d at 523; see also Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 412-13 (5th Cir. May 1981) (“Because at issue in a factual 12(b)(1) motion is the trial court's jurisdiction - its very power to hear the case - there is substantial authority that the trial court is free to weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case. In short, no presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims.” (quoting Mortensen v. First. Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977))).

         “When a Rule 12(b)(1) motion is filed in conjunction with other Rule 12 motions, the court should consider the Rule 12(b)(1) jurisdictional attack before addressing any attack on the merits.” Ramming, 281 F.3d at 161. ‚ÄúThis requirement prevents a court without jurisdiction from prematurely dismissing a case with prejudice. The court's dismissal of a plaintiff's case because the plaintiff lacks subject matter jurisdiction is not a determination of the merits ...

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