United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southern Division
ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant Internal Revenue Service
(“Defendant”)'s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of
Subject Matter Jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1)
(“the Motion”). (Doc. 13.) The Motion is fully
briefed. (Docs. 14, 15, 16, 17.) After careful consideration,
the Motion is GRANTED, and this case is
Ronald Satterlee (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act
(“FOIA”) and the Privacy Act. The FOIA confers
jurisdiction to district courts to enjoin an agency from
withholding agency records and to order the release of any
agency records improperly withheld. 5 U.S.C. §
552(a)(4)(B). The Privacy Act establishes a procedure for
fair information practices for records concerning individuals
maintained by federal agencies. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a).
Plaintiff wrote four letters to Defendant seeking various
information and documents utilizing the FOIA and the Privacy
Act. (Doc. 1.)
- June 19, 2017 Request:
This request sought “Original Copies of the
‘Original' Liens'” for the 1998 through
2004 and 2006 through 2011 tax years. (Doc. 14-1.) Defendant
responded to this letter on July 31, 2017. (Doc. 14-3.)
Defendant's response indicated that the
“‘original' lien is a concept, not a paper
document, ” and as a result, Defendant did not find any
documents specifically responsive to Plaintiff's request.
(Id.) Defendant's response also stated that all
notices of liens for the requested tax years were previously
provided to Plaintiff in response to a separate FOIA request.
(Id.) Defendant's response concluded by stating
that Satterlee had the right to file an administrative
appeal, and enclosed a Notice 393, which further explained
Plaintiff's appeal rights. (Id.) Defendant has
no record of receiving an administrative appeal of the June
19, 2017 Request. (Doc. 14.)
- June 20, 2017 Request:
This request seeks “[c]op[ies] of Original
‘Demand' Document stipulated on ‘Notice of
Federal Tax Lien' which alleges ‘Lawful'
Service of Process, provides full and complete disclosure,
‘in good faith' and ‘Lawfully' complies
with statement, ‘We have made a demand for payment . .
.'” for the 1998 through 2004 and 2006 through 2011
tax years. (Doc. 14-6.) Defendant responded to this request
on August 1, 2017. Defendant's response indicated that
the requested “[d]emand notices are systematically
issued (computer generated) and no paper documents exist,
” and as a result, the Service was unable to provide
the records requested. (Doc. 14-7.) Defendant's response
also informed Plaintiff of his appeal rights. (Id.)
Defendant has no record of receiving an administrative appeal
of the June 20, 2017 Request.
- August 28, 2017 Request:
Defendant treated the August 28, 2017 Request as a new FOIA
request because it requested new information. The August 28,
2017 Request asked that Defendant's Disclosure Manager,
Ronald Mele, “confirm and make responsive statement
that there has been no IRS notice and demand made for or
during years 1998-2004 and 2006-2011.” (Doc. 14.)
Defendant responded on September 14, 2017, and denied
Plaintiff's request stating Defendant is “not
required to create records, provide explanations, or answer
questions in response to a FOIA request.” (Doc. 14-9.)
- August 13, 2018 Request:
Plaintiff's Complaint alleges he sent another FOIA
request dated August 13, 2018 (“Alleged August 13
Request”). (Doc. 1-2.) The Alleged August 13 Request
sough “a copy of ANY MF STAT-21 shown on the
Transcript of Account for tax years 1998-2004 and
2006-2011.” (Id.) Plaintiff attached a copy of
the Alleged August 13 Request to his Complaint. Defendant
argues the request it received was dated August 13, 2018, but
it was substantively different than the Alleged August 13,
2018 Request Plaintiff provided with his Complaint
(“Actual August 13 Request”). Defendant argues
the Actual August 13 Request is different because it sought
the identification of the type of taxes that were referenced
in the “Notice of Federal Tax Lien” documents for
the years 1998-2004 and 2006-2011, while the Alleged August
13 Request sought MF STAT-21 documents. (Doc.
14-10.) Defendant has no record of receipt of the Alleged
August 13 Request.
Rule 12(b)(1) motion challenges the federal court's
subject matter jurisdiction over a cause of action.”
Knox v. St. Louis City Sch. Dist., 2018 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 209123, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Dec. 12, 2018). “Subject
matter jurisdiction is the power of a federal court to decide
the claim before it. Id. (citing Lightfoot v.
Cendant Mortg. Corp., 137 S.Ct. 553, 562 (2017)).
“Federal courts are courts of limited
jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co.
of America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Federal courts
retain the power to hear cases only if authorized to do so by
both the Constitution and by statute. Id.
“Generally speaking, a federal court's
subject-matter jurisdiction over a case must be based on
either [a] federal question . . . or ...