United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. TEETER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Christopher Neal James filed this civil action against
Defendants United States Coast Guard, the Department of
Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. James has
asserted both federal-question jurisdiction under a myriad of
federal statutes and regulations, and diversity jurisdiction
for his numerous claims, all of which arise out of either his
discharge from the Coast Guard or his claim for VA benefits.
Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss under Rules
8(a)(1), 12(b)(1), and 12(b)(6). Doc. 21.
James has not established any valid basis for jurisdiction,
including the requisite waiver of sovereign immunity, the
Court grants Defendants' motion to dismiss.
complaint is short on factual details. But it appears this
case arises from James's discharge from the Coast Guard
in 2005. See Doc. 1 at 19. The discharge was based
on a diagnosis of schizoid personality disorder, which James
disputed and for which he sought a second opinion.
Id. at 4, 17-18; Doc. 26 at 2. He was denied a
second opinion because the diagnosis had come from an
approved professional. Doc. 1 at 4. James also alleges
problems with the manner and process of his discharge
proceedings. Id. at 4-7. He alleges certain
regulations were violated in his “final year of AD,
” and that Defendants violated other regulations after
his discharge when he sought review through the
“DRB” and “BCMR.” Id. at
5-9. James also alleges various tort claims related to his
discharge, including false statements, libel, slander,
malice, and injury to and seizure of his
“mentality/psyche” and “sheut, ” as
well as a breach of his 2003 service contract with the Coast
Guard. Id. at 8-13.
his discharge in 2005, James was issued a DD-214 that he says
stigmatized him. Accordingly, he claims has been prevented
from obtaining other “jobs of greater potential”
and was only able to obtain civilian employment with the
Coast Guard. Id. at 4-5. James also challenges the
denial by the Department of Veterans Affairs of his request
for benefits. Id. at 13-19.
complaint lists 35 constitutional provisions, federal
statutes, federal and military regulations, and state
statutes that he says are at issue in this case, in addition
to 22 separate claims for relief. But his complaint does not
tie any of those provisions to any specific claim, or to any
of particular facts. Id. at 2. James's purported
claims include “restriction to legal counsel”;
“restriction to licensed experts (additional
opinions)”; “restriction to employment”;
“neglect/violation to federal regulation”;
“neglect/violation to agency regulation”;
“neglect/violation to reasonable proceedings”;
“neglect to good faith efforts”; “providing
false statement”; “libel defamation”;
“slander defamation”; “malice”;
injury to James's “mentality/psyche” and
“sheut”; “seizure of property”;
“breach of contract”; “refusing to accept
documents of fact for evidence”; and “gross
negligence by U.S. Governing bodies and Agencies.”
See generally id. For these claims, James seeks
damages in excess of $75, 000 on most claims, lost VA
benefits, and “the Commissioning to O-6 (specifics of
said promotion to be negotiated); PCS Orders to attend the
Graduate School of the plaintiff's selection (pending
acceptance to said school); and a return to service under the
aforementioned commission (specifics to be
negotiated).” Id. at 20.
Court may dismiss a complaint for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1). “[A] facial attack on
the complaint's allegations as to subject matter
jurisdiction questions the sufficiency of the
complaint.” Holt v. United States, 46 F.3d
1000, 1002 (10th Cir. 1995). Defendants challenge James's
complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule 8(a)(1), in additional
to Rule 12(b)(1). Based on that, it appears Defendants are
mounting such a facial attack.
facial attack, a court accepts the allegations in the
complaint as true. Holt, 46 F.3d at 1002. But that
acceptance does not extend to conclusory allegations,
unwarranted inferences, or legal conclusions. Turner v.
United States, 501 Fed.Appx. 840, 842 (10th Cir. 2012).
It is a
plaintiff's burden to establish subject-matter
jurisdiction. Id. at 843. In cases against the
United States or its agencies, like this one, a
plaintiff's burden is twofold. First, the plaintiff must
show that the claim is one over which a federal court has
jurisdiction. Pueblo of Jemez v. United States, 790
F.3d 1143, 1151 (10th Cir. 2015). Second, the plaintiff must
identify the waiver of sovereign immunity that allows him to
sue the government. Id. This is because the United
States, as sovereign, is generally immune from suit.
F.D.I.C. v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475 (1994). The
United States-or its agencies, like Defendants here-can only
be sued where it has consented to be sued, and then only
under the terms of that consent. Id.; Weaver v.
United States, 98 F.3d 518, 520 (10th Cir. 1996). Any
such waiver must be explicit and unequivocal.
Weaver, 98 F.3d at 520. If there is no waiver of
sovereign immunity for the claims against the government, the
court lacks jurisdiction. Id.
Court has reviewed James's complaint. James asserts
jurisdiction under both diversity (28 U.SC. § 1332) and
federal question (28 U.S.C. § 1331). Doc. 1 at 2. With
regard to federal-question jurisdiction, the complaint
contains a table listing 35 federal and state statutes,
regulations, and federal constitutional provisions that James
contends are at issue, though none of the actual claims
specifically reference or incorporate any of those listed
statutes or regulations. James also appears to assert various
tort claims. At least one claim alleges a breach of contract.
The remaining claims relate to the denial of James's VA
benefits. Each of these potential jurisdictional bases is
addressed in turn.
Diversity jurisdiction is not proper in suits ...