BRYANT v. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
OPINION. Signed by Judge Noel L. Hillman on 4/28/2016. (TH, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
ROGER BRYANT, SR.,
Civil No. 15-5691 (NLH/AMD)
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS
ROGER BRYANT, SR.
420 WHITE HORSE PIKE
MAGNOLIA, NJ 08049
Appearing pro se
FRANCES C. BAJADA
OFFICE OF THE U.S. ATTORNEY
970 BROAD STREET
NEWARK, NJ 07102
On behalf of defendant
HILLMAN, District Judge
Presently before the Court is the motion of defendant to
dismiss plaintiff’s complaint for lack of subject matter
For the reasons expressed below, defendant’s
motion will be granted.
Plaintiff, Roger Bryant, Sr., appearing pro se, seeks
judicial review of a reduction in his pension benefits from
$1,054.00 to $606.00 and then to $217.00 monthly made by the
Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”).
Plaintiff claims that as
a result of these reductions, he was unable to pay rent and was
evicted from his home and became homeless in June 2015.
claims that he lost everything that he owned and was unable to
pay for needed medical care.
Plaintiff further claims that the
VA acknowledged that it had made a mistake in cutting his
pension benefits, and he states that he wants the VA held liable
for its mistake and for causing him to suffer severe mental
Plaintiff has attached to his complaint a Statement in
Support of Claim dated June 24, 2015, VA Form 21-4138, in which
he further explains that he received no warning prior to the
reduction of his pension benefits.
Plaintiff states that he
disagrees with the overpayment calculation, and that he
requested a waiver and appeal of the decision to cut his
Plaintiff claims that he met with Ryan Hector from
the VA, who told him that the VA mistakenly reduced his pension
benefits by the amount of income he received from another
Plaintiff alleges violations of his constitutional rights,
due process of the law and equal rights.
$100,000,000.00 for cruel and unusual punishment.
the Department of Veterans Affairs, has moved to dismiss
plaintiff’s complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Plaintiff has opposed defendant’s motion.
Plaintiff is a disabled Vietnam veteran who served in the
United States Air Force, and he was “prepared to give his life”
and “never surrender.” (Docket No. 20 at 2.)
that he has been treated like he is in “a third world
dictatorship with no rights or benefits.”
He asks this
Court to hold the VA accountable for how the VA has treated him.
The Court does not question, and thanks plaintiff for, his
service to his county, and accepts as true the allegations in
The Court, however, does not have jurisdiction
to hear his case.
By statute, the Secretary of Veteran Affairs is granted
authority to decide all VA determinations affecting the
provision of benefits.
Hamilton v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am.,
18 F. Supp. 3d 571, 577 (D.N.J. 2014).
decisions are considered “final and conclusive” and may not be
reviewed by “any official or by any court, whether by an action
in the nature of mandamus or otherwise.”
38 U.S.C. § 511.
Courts have recognized that a challenge to an individual VA
benefits proceeding is beyond the jurisdiction of the federal
courts, even when the challenge is constitutional in nature.
Id. (citing Veterans for Common Sense v. Shinseki, 678 F.3d
1013, 1023–26 (9th Cir. 2012), cert. denied, ––– U.S. ––––, 133
S. Ct. 840, 184 L. Ed. 2d 653 (2013) (discussing survey of
circuits)); see also Fleming v. U.S. Veterans Admin. Med.
Centers, 348 F. App'x 737, 738-39 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing 38
U.S.C. § 7105(a); 38 U.S.C. § 7252(a)) (explaining that a
veteran must seek review within the agency by filing a notice of
disagreement with the Board of Veterans Appeals; an appeal from
the decision of the Board can only be taken to the Court of
Appeals for Veterans Claims, which has exclusive jurisdiction
over appeals from decisions of the Board of Veterans' Appeals);
38 U.S.C. § 7292(c) (the Federal Circuit has exclusive
jurisdiction over appeals from the Court of Appeals for Veterans
In this case, plaintiff must exhaust his administrative
remedies and appeal the VA’s determination regarding his
benefits through the proper administrative procedure, or if he
has already done so, pursue his claims with the Federal Circuit.
This Court is not the proper forum for plaintiff’s case, and it
must therefore be dismissed with prejudice for lack of subject
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(1); Constitution
Party of Pennsylvania v. Aichele, 757 F.3d 347, 357-58 (3d Cir.
2014) (explaining that a facial attack to subject matter
jurisdiction considers a claim on its face and asserts that it
is insufficient to invoke the subject matter jurisdiction of the
court because a jurisdictional defect is present); U.S. ex rel.
Atkinson v. PA. Shipbuilding Co., 473 F.3d 506, 516-17 (3d Cir.
2007) (dismissals based on subject matter jurisdiction should be
understood as being on the merits, and re-pleading is futile
because the legal inadequacy cannot be solved by providing a
better factual account of the alleged claim).
expresses no view about the merits of plaintiff’s claims that
his benefits were improperly reduced, and plaintiff is not
precluded from pursuing any available administrative or judicial
review as outlined above.
An appropriate Order will be entered.
April 28, 2016
At Camden, New Jersey
s/ Noel L. Hillman
NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
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