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Knauss v. U.S. Dep't of Justice

October 7, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joyner, J.


Presently before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss of Defendants United States Department of Justice, United States Marshals Service, and United States Fugitive Task Force (ECF No. 4). For the following reasons, the Motion shall be granted.


Joseph Ronald Knauss ("Plaintiff") is a pro se litigant and resident of Pennsylvania who has filed suit against the United States Department of Justice, the United States Marshals Service ("USMS"), and the United States Fugitive Task Force (collectively, the "Federal Agency Defendants")*fn1 as well as two individuals, Scott Henderschedt and John Doe (collectively, the "Individual Defendants").

A. Factual Background

Plaintiff alleges that on May 27, 2010, the Individual Defendants arrived at his house, demanded that Plaintiff open his door, and proceeded to yell at, curse at, and threaten Plaintiff. Plaintiff did not open the door and instead called 911. According to Plaintiff's Complaint, Scott Henderschedt identified himself and John Doe as federal bail enforcement officers and told Plaintiff that they had been watching him for three days. Henderschedt accused Plaintiff of pursuing Henderschedt's 22-year-old daughter, Krystal, and of damaging her car. Henderschedt then kicked Plaintiff's door and punched his air conditioner. When a police officer arrived in response to Plaintiff's 911 call, Plaintiff stepped outside. The Individual Defendants refused to identify themselves except to say that they catch federal bail jumpers, that Henderschedt was Krystal's father, and that John Doe was Krystal's uncle. Plaintiff alleges that the Individual Defendants were wearing the uniform of the United States Fugitive Task Force. According to the Complaint, Henderschedt explained that they were in uniform because they were working another case in the area, but that they were not getting paid for watching or confronting Plaintiff.

B. Procedural Background

On June 17, 2010, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.*fn2 Plaintiff's Complaint asserts claims of both constitutional and state tort violations arising out of the conduct of the Individual Defendants. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages. Other than the caption, the Federal Agency Defendants are only mentioned in the Complaint as the employers of the Individual Defendants. No relief is sought from them, only from the Individual Defendants in their individual and official capacities.

The Federal Agency Defendants subsequently filed the instant Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.*fn3

Plaintiff filed a response to which the Federal Agency Defendants have now replied.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) provides that a party may file a motion asking the court to dismiss a complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, the court must first determine whether to treat the motion as a facial or factual challenge to the court's subject-matter jurisdiction. Gould Elecs., Inc. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 176 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. and Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977)). A facial challenge "attack[s] the complaint on its face," while a factual challenge "attack[s] the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact, quite apart from any pleading." Mortensen, 549 F.2d at 891. "In reviewing a facial attack, the court must only consider the allegations of the complaint and documents referenced therein and attached thereto, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Gould Elecs., Inc., 220 F.3d at 176. By contrast, "in reviewing a factual attack, the court may consider evidence outside the pleadings." Id. In addition, in a factual attack, "no presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's allegations . . . ." Mortensen, 549 F.2d at 891. "Moreover, the plaintiff will have the burden of proof that jurisdiction does in fact exist." Id. A factual challenge under Rule 12(b)(1) may be made prior to service of an answer. Berardi v. Swanson Mem'l Lodge No. 48 of Fraternal Order of Police, 920 F.2d 198, 200 (3d Cir. 1990).

The Federal Agency Defendants have clearly challenged the Court's subject-matter jurisdiction on a factual basis. As such, we may consider evidence outside of ...

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