Walsh v. United States House of Representatives
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry).Signed by Honorable Malachy E Mannion on 4/11/17. (bs)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
JOHN WALSH, III,
U.S. HOUSE OF
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:17-0486
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
In his complaint, Walsh lists a P.O. Box in Naples, Florida as his
address. (Doc. 1, p. 3). This address is also listed on the docket of this case.
Walsh’s exhibits attached to his complaint, (Doc. 1-1), show that in January
2017 he resided in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and that he has been in Florida
since February 2017. As such, venue may not be proper in this district since
none of the parties are located here and the claims did not arise here. See 28
U.S.C. §1391(b). Nonetheless, the court will not transfer this case since it is
patently frivolous and there is no indication in the record that Walsh has
permanently moved to Florida.
As Judge Carlson states, Walsh is a prolific filer of civil actions in this
court. In fact, Judge Carlson states that Walsh has filed more than 30 pro se
lawsuits, seeking in forma pauperis status, with this court many of which have
been found to be frivolous. Judge Carlson notes a partial list of numerous
frivolous actions which Walsh has filed in the past. (Doc. 4, p. 11 n. 1).
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
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)).
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 F3d 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 frivolous actions such a show cause order would be issued.
Despite this warning, Walsh has continued to file frivolous actions.
“[A] District Court may enjoin a pro se litigant from future filings so long
as the injunction complies with three requirements: (1) the litigant must be
continually abusing the judicial process; (2) the litigant must be given notice
of the potential injunction and an opportunity to oppose the court’s order; and
(3) the injunction must be narrowly tailored to fit the specific circumstances of
the case.” Grossberger v. Ruane, 535 Fed.Appx. 84, 86 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing
Brow v. Farrelly, 994 F.2d 1027, 1038 (3d Cir. 1993)). As Judge Carlson
indicates, Walsh has “established a pattern of groundless and vexatious
litigation,” Chipps v. United States Dist. Ct. for the Middle Dist. of Pa., 882
F.2d 72, 73 (3d Cir. 1989), and his “filings are not only numerous, they are
also without any merit.” Grossberger , 535 Fed.Appx. at 86 (citing In re Oliver,
682 F.2d 443, 446 (3d Cir. 1982)).
The court will refer the show cause proceedings to Judge Carlson for
the preparation of a Report and Recommendation. See Switzer v. Thomas,
2013 WL 693090 (W.D.Va. Feb. 25, 2013).
For the above reasons, the report of Judge Carlson, (Doc. 4), is
ADOPTED IN ITS ENTIRETY. Walsh’s objections, (Doc. 5), are
OVERRULED. Walsh’s complaint, (Doc. 1), is DISMISSED WITH
PREJUDICE. A separate order shall issue.
s/ Malachy E. Mannion
MALACHY E. MANNION
United States District Judge
Date: April 11, 2017
O:\Mannion\shared\MEMORANDA - DJ\CIVIL MEMORANDA\2017 MEMORANDA\17-0486-01.wpd
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