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Walsh v. United States House of Representatives

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 11, 2017

JOHN WALSH, III, Plaintiff
v.
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Defendants

          Carlson, M.J.

          MEMORANDUM

          MALACHY E. MANNION United States District Judge

         Before the court is the March 21, 2017 report and recommendation of Judge Carlson, (Doc. 4), recommending that the complaint of plaintiff John Walsh, III be dismissed for failure to state a claim.[1] The case arises from a complaint, (Doc. 1), filed pro se on March 20, 2017, in which Walsh sues defendants U.S. House of Representatives (“Congress”), alleging he has standing to sue as a citizen and taxpayer, and in which he seeks Congress to create “the best Health Care System in the World.”[2] Walsh also filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) which Judge Carlson granted. (Doc. 2). On April 3, 2017, Walsh filed a nonsensical document in response to Judge Carlson's report titled “This is Heaven and I'm The Messiah and Bam! Your Not”, (Doc. 5), in which he states that he has had as much as he can stand “in this silly court” and he requests that it “be cast down to the fires of hell for eternity.” Walsh's 4-page response transgresses from there. The court will broadly construe Walsh's response as objections to Judge Carlson's report. As it is quite clear that Walsh's latest complaint does not raise a cognizable claim for several reasons as Judge Carlson explains, including legislative immunity, the court adopts the report of Judge Carlson and his recommendation that the complaint be dismissed with prejudice.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When objections are timely filed to the report and recommendation of a magistrate judge, the district court must review de novo those portions of the report to which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1); Brown v. Astrue, 649 F.3d 193, 195 (3d Cir. 2011). Although the standard is de novo, the extent of review is committed to the sound discretion of the district judge, and the court may rely on the recommendations of the magistrate judge to the extent it deems proper. Rieder v. Apfel, 115 F.Supp.2d 496, 499 (M.D.Pa. 2000) (citing United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 676 (1980)).

         For those sections of the report and recommendation to which no objection is made, the court should, as a matter of good practice, "satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), advisory committee notes; see also Univac Dental Co. v. Dentsply Intern., Inc., 702 F.Supp. 2d 465, 469 (M.D.Pa. 2010) (citing Henderson v. Carlson, 812 F.2d 874, 878 (3d Cir. 1987) (explaining that judges should give some review to every report and recommendation)). Nevertheless, whether timely objections are made or not, the district court may accept, not accept, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1); Local Rule 72.31.”[A] Report and Recommendation does not have force of law unless and until the district court enters an order accepting or [not accepting] it.” Garceran v. Morris County Prosecutors Office, 2015 WL 858106, *1 (D.N.J. Feb. 27, 2015) (citing United Steelworkers of Am. v. N.J. Zinc Co., Inc., 828 F.2d 1001, 1005 (3d Cir. 1987)).

         II. DISCUSSION

         To date, Walsh's complaint has not been served on defendants and no response to his complaint is due by the defendants at this time. In cases where the plaintiff has in forma pauperis status, United States Code, 28 U.S.C. §1915, requires the court to dismiss a plaintiff's case if, at any time, the court determines that the action is, “frivolous or malicious” or “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.” §1915(e)(2)(B).See McCain v. Episcopal Hosp., 350 Fed.Appx. 602, 604 (3d Cir. 2009) (Section 1915(e)(2) applies to all in forma pauperis complaints, and not just to prisoners); Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 110 n. 10 (3d Cir. 2002). For the reasons thoroughly discussed in Judge Carlson's report, Walsh's complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and therefore, his complaint must be dismissed.

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction” and “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1) and (2). Even though courts are more deferential and liberally construe pleadings of pro se litigants, the plaintiff must still comply with the pleading standards set forth in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Frazier v. Southeastern Penn. Transp. Auth., 785 F.2d 65, 67 n. 3 (3d Cir. 1986); Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9, 101 S.Ct. 173, 66 L.Ed.2d 163 (1980). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). As such, a complaint must include factual allegations to support the legal claims asserted. Id. at 1949, 1953.

         As Judge Carlson's report indicates, the complaint in this matter does not provide a short and plain statement of the claim as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. Thus, as Judge Carlson states dismissal is warranted since “Walsh's pleadings fail to satisfy these basic minimal pleading standards.” (Doc. 4 at 8) (citing Binsack v. Lackawanna County Prison, 438 Fed.Appx. 158 (3d Cir. 2011)).

         Moreover, as Judge Carlson recognizes, the Speech or Debate Clause of Article I in the U.S. Constitution “affords protection to United States Representatives and Senators in their official duties.” Brawner v. Education Management Corp., 2012 WL 3064019, *9 (E.D.Pa. July 27, 2012). “When this legislative immunity applies, it is an absolute bar to suit.” Id. (citing Eastland v. U.S. Servicemen's Fund, 421 U.S. 491, 503, 95 S.Ct. 1813 (1975)). Further, “[t]he immunity provided under the Speech or Debate Clause applies to ‘legislators acting within the sphere of legitimate legislative activity.'” Id. at *10 (citing Eastland, 421 U.S. at 503). As Judge Carlson concludes, (Doc. 4 at 10), Walsh's lawsuit “which seeks by judicial fiat to direct a legislative outcome, violates the constitutional separation of powers embodied in the Speech and Debate clause.” The power of Congress to create a national health care system falls squarely within the sphere of legislative functions protected by the Speech or Debate Clause. As such, legislative immunity is applicable and bars this suit.

         Walsh's objections to Judge Carlson's report are completely without merit and lack any coherent argument as to how his complaint meets the pleading requirements under Rule 12(b)(6).

         The court should grant leave to amend a complaint before dismissing it as merely deficient. See, e.g., Fletcher-Harlee Corp. v. Pote Concrete Contractors, Inc., 482 F.3d 247, 252 (3d Cir. 2007); Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002); Shane v. Fauver, 213 F.3d 113, 116-17 (3d Cir. 2000). “Dismissal without leave to amend is justified only on the grounds of bad faith, undue delay, prejudice, or futility.” Alston v. Parker, 363 F.3d 229, 236 (3d Cir. 2004). Here, the court agrees with Judge Carlson's determination that Walsh should not be granted leave to amend his complaint. It would plainly be futile to give Walsh an opportunity to amend his pleading.

         Finally, Judge Carlson recommends that the court conduct a show cause hearing to determine whether the court should impose a pre-filing injunction preventing Walsh from filing any pleadings, motions, or other papers with this court without approval of court based on his numerous prior frivolous filings which has cost this court considerable time and wasted valuable judicial resources. The court has previously warned Walsh that if he continued to file ...


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