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Savoy v. Burns

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Martinsburg

June 1, 2018

GREGORY SCOTT SAVOY, Plaintiff,
v.
CRAIG M. BURNS, Tax Commissioner, Virginia Department of Taxation, PETER FRANCHOT, Maryland Comptroller, Office of the Comptroller, and DALE W. STEAGER, Tax Commissioner, West Virginia State Department of Taxation, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ROBERT W. TRUMBLE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On May 29, 2018, the pro se Plaintiff, filed the above-styled a document titled “Ex Parte Emergency Application Instanter [sic] for a Stay of Proceedings to Enforce a Judgement [sic] pending the filing of a Motion to Grant Relief to be concurrent with An Application to Proceed in Forma Pauperis”, which was docketed as a federal question action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. ECF No. 1.[1] Attached thereto were a civil cover sheet [ECF No. 1-2] and a single page summary of proceedings before the United States Supreme Court and a 54-page “Petition for Extraordinary Writ of Mandamus and Equitable Relief for Victims and Survivors or the Schizophrenia Spectrum of Disorders in America” [ECF No. 1-1], which Petitioner filed in the Supreme Court. The undersigned liberally construes Plaintiff's application as a motion for injunctive relief.

         The application asserts that Plaintiff intends to become a movant for relief in the future, but acknowledges that he has not yet filed a “Motion to Grant Relief”. Rather, Plaintiff acknowledges that he is a “potential movant” who “in the weeks ahead” should be granted additional time to file his claims. ECF No. 1 at 9. Plaintiff further asserts that he plans to proceed by filing a Motion to Grant Relief from a Judgment which either: (1) alleges that the States ignored state disability law in their attempts to collect taxes; or (2) "request[s] a first impression ruling on extraordinary matters". Id. at 10 - 11. Plaintiff claims that two harms might come to him: (1) Virginia might freeze his bank accounts; or (2) Maryland might do so. Id. at 13. Plaintiff claims that freezing his bank accounts might lead him to relapse after 30 years in remission from active schizophrenia. Id. at 15 - 16.

         II. STANDARD OF LAW

         The standard for granting injunctive relief was articulated by the United States Supreme Court which held in Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008) that:

A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest.

         As restated by the Fourth Circuit, when a plaintiff seeks the extraordinary remedy of a preliminary injunction:

The plaintiff “need not establish a certainty of success, but must make a clear showing that he is likely to succeed at trial.” A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that (1) she is likely to succeed on the merits, (2) she is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, (3) the balance of equities tips in her favor, and (4) an injunction is in the public interest.

Int'l Refugee, 883 F.3d at 256 (citing WV Ass'n of Club Owners & Fraternal Servs., Inc. v. Musgrave, 553 F.3d 292, 298 (4th Cir. 2009) (citing Winter, 555 U.S. at 7)). This standard becomes even more exacting when a plaintiff seeks a preliminary injunction that mandates action, as contrasted with the typical form of a preliminary injunction that merely preserves the status quo. See East Tennessee Natural Gas Co. v. Sage, 361 F.3d 808, 828 (4th Cir. 2004) (quoting Wetzel v. Edwards, 635 F.2d 283, 286 (4th Cir. 1980)) (noting that “mandatory preliminary injunctions do not preserve the status quo and normally should be granted only in those circumstances when the exigencies of the situation demands such relief”).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Before addressing the merits of Plaintiff's motion, the undersigned must first determine whether this Court has jurisdiction. This Court lacks jurisdiction to address Petitioner's claims because he does not present an active case or controversy. There has been no adverse action taken against Petitioner. As he acknowledges, Virginia might freeze his bank accounts or file liens against him, or Maryland might do so. Neither State has done so yet. This court has no jurisdiction to intervene in a matter where there is no case or controversy.

         The Constitution specifies that judicial power extends only to “Cases” and “Controversies, ” Art. III, § 2. “If a dispute is not a proper case or controversy, the courts have no business deciding it, or expounding the law in the course of doing so.” DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 341 (2006); Town of Chester, N.Y. v. Laroe Estates, Inc., 137 S.Ct. 1645, 1650 (2017). “No principle is more fundamental to the judiciary's proper role in our system of government than the constitutional limitation of federal-court jurisdiction to actual cases or controversies.” Raines v. Byrd, 521 U.S. 811, 818 (1997). There is no such controversy in this case.

         In Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 1540 (2016), the Supreme Court addressed the necessity of standing to ...


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