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Fattah v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 2, 2020

CHAKA FATTAH, JR.
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          TIMOTHY J. SAVAGE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Chaka Fattah, Jr., in his pro se motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), claims that the government knowingly used perjured testimony at the trial of his civil case that resulted in a verdict in his favor. Although he requests an opportunity to move for summary judgment, we shall treat his request as one for a new trial on damages.

         The government responds that his motion is both untimely and meritless. We agree. Therefore, we shall deny the motion.

         Fattah brought this action alleging that Internal Revenue Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents presented at his residence without notifying his attorney in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 6304(a). He also claimed that the IRS, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice unlawfully disclosed his tax return information to the media.

         The facts developed at trial established liability. In the pre-dawn of February 29, 2012, when federal agents executed a search warrant on Fattah's home, members of the press were already there. Later that morning, federal agents executed a search warrant at Shulick Law Office, where Fattah had an office and worked, and at a school where he provided consulting services.

         Prior to the execution of the warrants, an F.B.I. special agent had wrongfully disclosed to a reporter when and where the search warrants were to be executed. Acting on the wrongful disclosure, members of the media were present when agents served the warrants, resulting in numerous news articles reporting the searches.

         After a bench trial, we found that the defendant had violated 26 U.S.C. § 6103(a) when the government agent disclosed the details about the pending service of the search warrants. Finding that Fattah had not suffered any actual damages, we awarded only statutory damages of $1, 000.00. Judgment was entered on July 27, 2017.

         Now, almost two years later, Fattah filed his motion under Rule 60(b)(6). Fattah argues that a witness, his former employer David Shulick, had lied in his deposition which was used at Fattah's trial in this matter. Fattah testified that he had been fired because the publicity surrounding the searches negatively impacted Shulick's business. The government's position was that Fattah had not been fired, but had quit his job. Fattah now argues that Shulick's testimony that Fattah had quit was used to refute his contention that he had been fired from his job at Shulick's business because of the publicity.

         In our Findings of Fact, we found:

Although Shulick advised him that he was still employed at Shulick Law Offices, Fattah did not return to work after the searches. Findings of Fact (FOF) 13.
Shulick Law Offices did not fire Fattah as a result of media coverage of the searches. FOF 14.
Fattah, without explanation, stopped showing up to work after the search warrants were executed. FOF 15.
After the searches, Fattah quit his job with Shulick Law Offices by not returning to work. FOF 16.
Prior to the searches, Fattah was planning to leave Shulick Law Offices for new employment or to start his own ...

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