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MOVE ORG. v. UNITED STATES DOJ

January 10, 1983

MOVE ORGANIZATION
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GILES

 GILES, J.

 Plaintiff filed a complaint suing a host of correctional authorities *fn1" for a litany of alleged afflictions. *fn2" The complaint was followed by a Supplemental Complaint detailing approximately nineteen separate grievances. *fn3" Despite the greater detail provided by the Supplemental Complaint, this action must be dismissed for a variety of jurisdictional, substantive, and procedural reasons.

 I. JURISDICTIONAL DEFECTS

 The jurisdictional problems presented by the complaints can be divided into three categories: sovereign immunity, eleventh amendment immunity, and standing. I use the term "sovereign immunity" to describe the general inability to sue the United States. Eleventh Amendment immunity relates to the ability to bring in a state or its agencies as defendants. Standing relates to the ability of this plaintiff, the "Move Organization," to sue any party for the grievances listed in its complaint.

 A. SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY

 The United States and its agencies may not be sued without consent. The complaint discloses no basis for consent, nor can I conceive of any. *fn4" Thus, the federal defendants -- the Bureau of Prisons, the Lewisburg Penitentiary, the Post Office, and the Treasury Department -- must be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.

 B. Eleventh-Amendment Immunity

 The Eleventh Amendment has been interpreted to bar federal court suits against states for retroactive damages. Pennsylvania and its agencies have not consented to this suit, and no other exception to eleventh amendment immunity applies. Therefore, the damage claims against the state and its alter egos, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and its justice department, corrections bureau, parole board, and public welfare department, as well as the governor, attorney general and corrections commissioner in their official capacities, must be dismissed.

 C. Standing

 As part of the constitutional case-or-controversy requirement, see U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, a plaintiff must have standing to sue. See, e.g., Kirby v. United States, 675 F.2d 60, 64 (3d Cir. 1982). See generally, e.g., C. Wright, A. Miller & E. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3531 (1975 & Supps. 1980 and 1982). The only plaintiff in this action is the "Move Organization." When an organization sues, its standing can be either "individual" or "representative." See, e.g., Havens Realty Corp. v. Coleman, 455 U.S. 363, 102 S. Ct. 1114, 1124, 71 L. Ed. 2d 214 (1982). In its individual capacity, an organization sues for harm to itself. In its representative capacity, the organization sues on behalf of its members. See, e.g., Hunt v. Washington State Apple Advertising Commission, 432 U.S. 333, 342-43, 53 L. Ed. 2d 383, 97 S. Ct. 2434 (1977); Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 511, 45 L. Ed. 2d 343, 95 S. Ct. 2197 (1975).

  On its own behalf, an organization, like an individual, must allege an injury in fact and show a personal stake in the case sufficient to warrant federal-court jurisdiction. See, e.g., Havens Realty Corp., 102 S. Ct. at 1124; Kirby, 675 F.2d at 64. The complaint and supplemental complaint list incidents occurring over a five-year period. Each incident alleges some sort of brutality or judicial injustice to individual Move members. *fn5" In general, however, a fair reading of the complaints discloses no allegation of distinct harm to Move itself. *fn6" The exception is the alleged unconstitutional destruction of the Move house at the hands of the City of Philadelphia. See Supplemental Complaint paras. 9-10. However, because, this incident is already the subject of pending litigation before me by Move and many of its members, I shall dismiss this aspect of the instant case as duplicative. See notes 8, 11, 14 and 16 infra and accompanying texts. As to all other aspects of the complaint, Move lacks individual standing.

 The question remains whether Move has standing as a representative of its members. One requirement for representational standing is that "neither the claim asserted nor relief requested requires the participation of individual members in the lawsuit." *fn7" With the exception of the incidents preceding and including the destruction of the Move house, which have been dismissed from this case as duplicative, *fn8" the complaints relate incidents where one or several Move members suffered harm. There is no statute, ordinance or other official action affecting all members. *fn9" It would require individual testimony to establish the constitutional violations set forth in the complaint, and the relief would have to be tailored individually to the harm suffered by any Move member whose rights may have been violated. See, e.g., Comment, supra, note 7, at 132. Thus, both the claims asserted and relief requested require participation in this lawsuit by individual members. *fn10" Since this prerequisite to associational standing is not satisfied, so this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.

 II. SUBSTANTIVE DEFECTS

 Even assuming jurisdiction existed to hear this lawsuit, it would have to be dismissed as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d) because the complaint does not entitle plaintiff to relief. This conclusion is most easily demonstrated by considering, ...


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