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Bryant v. Internal Revenue Service

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

September 18, 2018

Anthony G. Bryant, Plaintiff,
Internal Revenue Service, Beth Drake, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Attorney General of United States, Defendants.



         Anthony G. Bryant filed this civil action. (DE#1, Complaint). The pro se Plaintiff has filed an Amended Complaint (DE#7). Plaintiff Anthony Bryant is a non-prisoner litigant who is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(D.S.C.), the United States Magistrate Judge is authorized to review the record and to submit findings and recommendations to the United States District Judge. Upon review, the Magistrate Judge recommends that this case is duplicative of another case filed by the Plaintiff against the same four parties, complaining of the same IRS tax notice, and that this case should be summarily dismissed with prejudice, without issuance and service of process, for the following reasons:

         I. Relevant Law

         A. Liberal Construction

         Pro se pleadings are given liberal construction and are held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). However, “[t]he ‘special judicial solicitude' with which a district court should view ... pro se filings does not transform the court into an advocate. United States v. Wilson, 699 F.3d 789, 797 (4th Cir. 2012), cert. denied, 133 S.Ct. 2401 (2013). Only those questions which are squarely presented to a court may properly be addressed.” Weller v. Dept. of Soc. Servs., City of Baltimore, 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). Giving “liberal construction” does not mean that the Court can ignore a prisoner's clear failure to allege facts that set forth a cognizable claim. “Principles requiring generous construction of pro se complaints ... [do] not require ... courts to conjure up questions never squarely presented to them.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1088 (1986).

         B. In Forma Pauperis Review

         Upon application, an indigent litigant may commence an action “in forma pauperis” in federal court without prepaying the administrative costs of proceeding with the lawsuit. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). To protect against possible abuses of this privilege, the statute allows the court to dismiss the case upon finding that the action is “frivolous or malicious, ” “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B). A finding of frivolity can be made where the complaint lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). Under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B), a claim based on a meritless legal theory may be dismissed sua sponte “at any time.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326 (1989). “Rule 12(b)(6) authorizes a court to dismiss a claim on the basis of a dispositive issue of law.” Id.

         C. Inherent Authority to Dismiss Frivolous Case

         The United States Supreme Court has observed that federal district courts possess inherent authority to dismiss a frivolous case. See Mallard v. United States District Court, 490 U.S. 296, 307-08 (1989) (“Section 1915(d) ... authorizes courts to dismiss a ‘frivolous or malicious' action, but there is little doubt they would have power to do so even in the absence of this statutory provision.”); see also Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 536-537 (1974) (holding that federal district courts may dismiss civil actions that are “so attenuated and unsubstantial as to be absolutely devoid of merit”). Consistent with such authority, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that “frivolous complaints are subject to summary dismissal pursuant to the inherent authority of the court.” Ross v. Baron, 493 Fed.Appx. 405, 406 (4th Cir. Aug. 22, 2012); and see, e.g., Cabbill v. United States, No. 1:14-cv-4122-JMC-PJG, 2015 WL 6905072, *5 (D.S.C. Nov. 9, 2015) (same), appeal dism'd, 2016 WL 1085106 (4th Cir. March 21, 2016); Anderson v. Patterson, No. 6:16-761-MGL-JDA, 2016 WL 1743095 (D.S.C. April 12, 2016), adopted, 2016 WL 1732763 (D.S.C. May 2, 2016). “A suit is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact.” Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 325; McLean v. United States, 566 F.3d 391, 399 (4th Cir. 2009) (same).

         The Amended Complaint in the present case is subject to review pursuant to the inherent authority of this Court to ensure that subject matter jurisdiction exists and that the case is not frivolous. See e.g., Carter v. Ervin, No. 0:14-cv-865-TLW-PJG, 2014 WL 2468351, *3 (D.S.C. June 2, 2014) (dismissing frivolous case), appeal dism'd, 585 Fed.Appx. 98 (4th Cir. 2014); Mayhew v. Duffy, No. 2:14-cv-24-RMG-BM, 2014 WL 468938, *1, fn.1 (D.S.C. Feb. 4, 2014) (exercising inherent authority to summarily dismiss a frivolous case).

         II. Background

         The Amended Complaint alleges (verbatim):

Grantees of federal financial assistance cited in external complaint unde[r] 1977 Inspector General Act subjected to Final Rules under 1946 Administrative Procedure Act see all exhibits.

(DE# 7 at 5, ¶ III, “Statement of the Claim”). Plaintiff indicates the “basis for jurisdiction” is “IRS Code 6702, 6109, 3949A public corruption, Privacy Act of 1974, 1993 National Voter Registration Act, IRS Section 7345.” (Id. at 3, ¶ II.A). Attached are 25 pages of exhibits, including an IRS notice of tax penalty against Plaintiff for filing frivolous tax returns, copies of newspaper articles, notices of public meetings, a Social Security mailing, and an application for an employer identification number (“EIN”), and other documents whose relevance cannot be discerned (DE#7-1). Plaintiffs' allegations are ...

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