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CARLIN v. U.S.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania


July 26, 2004.

JOSEPH E. CARLIN, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S., Defendant.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT KELLY, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM

Presently pending before this Court is the Motion to Dismiss of Defendant United States of America ("United States"). For the following reasons, the United States' Motion will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

  Joseph E. Carlin ("Carlin") filed a pro se Complaint against the United States on April 16, 2004. The two-Count Complaint revolves around the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 (the "Act"). 18 U.S.C. § 1841; 10 U.S.C. § 919a. The Act provides that any person who violates certain laws and "thereby causes the death of, or bodily injury . . . to, a child, who is in utero at the time the conduct takes place, is guilty of a separate offense. . . ." 18 U.S.C. § 1841(a)(1); 10 U.S.C. § 919a(a)(1). Significantly, for purposes of this case, the Act excludes prosecution "for conduct relating to an abortion for which the consent of the pregnant woman, or a person authorized by law to act on her behalf, has been obtained or for which such consent is implied by law." ("Section (c)(1)"). 18 U.S.C. § 1841(c)(1); 10 U.S.C. § 919a(c)(1). As previously mentioned, Carlin raises two Counts in his Complaint. In Count I, Carlin requests that this Court repeal Section (c)(1) based on the claim that this provision is allegedly in "direct contradiction with The Act itself." Moreover, in Count II of his Complaint, Carlin asks this Court to repeal the United States Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade based on the contention that the Act allegedly supersedes this case. 410 U.S. 113 (1973). The United States filed the instant Motion for Dismiss on June 18, 2004. The United States argues that this action is appropriate for dismissal pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1)*fn1 and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Carlin filed a Response to the present Motion on June 24, 2004.

  II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

  Carlin has filed a pro se action in this Court. As an initial matter, on a motion to dismiss, the district court must construe a pro se plaintiff's allegations liberally and apply a less stringent standard to the pleadings of a pro se plaintiff than to a complaint prepared by an attorney. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).

  "Challenges to plaintiff's standing to sue are jurisdictional and are considered under Rule 12(b)(1)." In re Walnut Leasing Co., Inc., No. 99-526, 1999 WL 729267, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 8, 1999). Rule 12(b)(1) permits a court to dismiss an action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(1). "[F]or purposes of ruling on a motion to dismiss for want for standing . . . `the trial court . . . must accept as true all allegations of the complaint, and must construe the complaint in favor of the complaining party.'" McGrath v. Johnson, 67 F. Supp.2d 499, 505 (E.D. Pa. 1999) (quoting Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975)).

  III. DISCUSSION

  The United States has moved to dismiss Carlin's Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6). This Court agrees with the United States' argument that Carlin lacks standing to pursue his claims in federal court. Thus, dismissal of the action is appropriate under Rule 12(b)(1). This Court finds it unnecessary to address the United States' Rule 12(b)(6) argument because dismissal is appropriate on the alternative ground.

  The jurisdictional reach of the federal courts extends only to "cases" and "controversies" pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution. U.S. CONST. art. III, § 2; Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 750 (1984). In order to establish standing in a federal court "[a] plaintiff must allege personal injury fairly traceable to the defendant's allegedly unlawful conduct and likely to be redressed by the requested relief." Allen, 468 U.S. at 751. In the area of standing, the United States Supreme Court "has consistently stressed that a plaintiff's complaint must establish that he has a `personal stake' in the alleged dispute, that the alleged injury suffered is particularized as to him." Raines v. Byrd, 521 U.S. 811, 819 (1997). Finally, it is well established that an "abstract injury" or "generalized grievance" is insufficient to meet the requisite standing requirements. Streater v. U.S. Dep't of Transp., No. 95-2162, 1996 WL 134807, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 25, 1996).

  In this case, Carlin has not alleged that he has suffered any particularized personal injury in relation to the claims in his Complaint. In essence, through his Complaint, Carlin simply voices his disapproval of Section (c)(1) of the Act and offers his own viewpoint on the Act's impact on United States Supreme Court precedent. These general grievances and opinions relating to the Act and its influence on the law are insufficient to establish standing in this Court. Streater, 1996 WL 134807, at *4. Carlin has failed to allege any personal injury related to the allegations in his Complaint that would give him standing to continue with his claims in this Court. Thus, Carlin's Complaint must be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) because the jurisdictional requirement of standing is lacking in this case.

  IV. CONCLUSION

  For the reasons set forth above, this Court finds that Carlin lacks standing to proceed with his claims in this Court. Thus, dismissal of Carlin's claims is appropriate pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1).

  An appropriate Order follows. ORDER

  AND NOW, this 26th day of July, 2004, upon consideration of the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 4), and the Plaintiff's Response thereto, it is hereby ORDERED that the Motion is GRANTED and the case is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The Clerk of Court is hereby directed to mark this case as closed.


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