United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK
OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION (DOCKET NO. 18)
Michael J. Watanabe United States Magistrate Judge.
case is before the Court on the consent of the parties to
magistrate judge jurisdiction. (Docket No. 12.) Now before
the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of
Subject Matter Jurisdiction (Docket No. 18), to which
Plaintiff filed a response (Docket No. 21), and Defendants
filed a reply. (Docket No. 22.) The Court has carefully
considered the motion. The Court has taken judicial notice of
the Court's file and has considered the applicable
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and case law. The Court now
being fully informed makes the following findings of fact,
conclusions of law, and order.
husband was employed at the U.S. Department of Energy's
Rocky Flats plant for over a decade, where he was exposed to
toxic chemicals that caused him to sustain various serious
health conditions. (Docket No. 1 at ¶ 4.) After his
death in 2012, Plaintiff filed series of claims for survivor
benefits under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness
Compensation Program Act (the “EEOICPA”).
(Id. at ¶¶ 5-6.) The Denver District
Office of United States Department of Labor's Division of
Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (the
“Department”) recommended that Plaintiff's
original claim be denied, even though the Department's
Contract Medical Consultant (“CMC”) opined that
it was at least as likely than not that Mr. Halliburton's
exposure to harmful toxic substances was a substantial factor
in aggravating, contributing to, or causing his health
conditions. (Id. at ¶¶ 7-8.) The
Department's Final Adjudication Board (“FAB”)
rejected the recommendation and remanded the case back to the
Denver District Office for “additional
development.” (Id. at ¶ 9.) A second CMC
report found that there was insufficient evidence to conclude
that Mr. Halliburton's exposure to harmful toxins
contributed to his health conditions and/or his death, and
Plaintiff's claim was again denied. (Id. at
¶¶ 10-11.) After an administrative hearing was
held, the Department issued a final decision on September 22,
2015, denying Plaintiff's claims for benefits under the
EEOICPA. (Id. at ¶¶ 12-15.) Plaintiff
alleges that she was unable to file an action for
administrative review of the denial because, despite numerous
written and oral requests, neither Plaintiff nor her counsel
ever received the claims file maintained by the Department.
(Id. at ¶¶ 17-23.)
brings this action under the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C.
§ 552a. She alleges that the Department
“intentionally and willfully” withheld the claims
file, and requests that the Court “compel the
Department to produce an accurate copy of the Claims File in
its entirety forthwith; award Mrs. Halliburton compensatory
damages, reasonable attorneys fees and costs pursuant to 5
U.S.C. § 552a(g); [and] order the statute of limitations
for administrative review be equitably tolled.”
(Id. at ¶¶ 29-30.)
August 16, 2017, Defendants filed the subject motion. (Docket
No. 18.) Defendants argue that because the claim file has
been produced, Plaintiff's claim is moot, and the Court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action. The Court
agrees, and dismisses Plaintiff's case.
of Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Rule 12(b)(1), a court may dismiss a complaint for
“lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). The burden of establishing subject
matter jurisdiction is on the party asserting jurisdiction.
See Basso v. Utah Power & Light Co., 495 F.2d
906, 909 (10th Cir. 1974). Motions to dismiss pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(1) take two forms. First, a party may attack the
facial sufficiency of the complaint, in which case the court
must accept the allegations of the complaint as true.
Holt v. United States, 46 F.3d 1000, 1002-03 (10th
Cir. 1995). Second, if a party attacks the factual assertions
regarding subject matter jurisdiction through affidavits and
other documents, the Court may make its own findings of fact.
See Id. at 1003. A court's consideration of
evidence outside the pleadings will not convert the motion to
dismiss to a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56.
See Id. Dismissal for lack of jurisdiction must be
without prejudice. Brereton v. Bountiful City Corp.,
434 F.3d 1213, 1216 (10th Cir. 2006).
III of the Constitution requires that the federal courts
render decisions only where there is a live case or
controversy between parties. U.S. Const. art. III, § 2.
An “actual controversy must be extant at all stages of
review, not merely at the time the complaint is filed.”
Alvarez v. Smith, 558 U.S. 87, 130 (2009). If
circumstances change during the pendency of the case that
extinguish a party's legally cognizable interest in the
action, the case is moot. Green v. Haskell Cnty. Bd. of
Comm'rs, 568 F.3d 784, 794 (10th Cir. 2009)
(quotations omitted). Mootness is an issue of subject matter
jurisdiction which can be raised at any stage of the
proceedings. Kennedy v. Lubar, 273 F.3d 1293,
1301-02 (10th Cir. 2001).
has two aspects: (i) whether the issues are live; and (ii)
whether the parties have a legally cognizable interest in the
outcome. See Lucero v. Bureau of Collection
Recovery, Inc., 639 F.3d 1239, 1242 (10th Cir.
2011). The critical question is “whether granting a
present determination of the issues offered will have some
effect in the real world.” Kennecott Utah Copper
Corp. v. Becker, 186 F.3d 1261, 1266 (10th Cir. 1999).
When circumstances change such that the court is unable to
grant effective relief that has some effect in the real
world, a live case or controversy no longer exists and the
case is, therefore, moot. See McKeen v. U.S. Forest
Serv., 615 F.3d 1244, 1255 (10th Cir. 2010).
Demonstrating that a case is moot is a heavy burden and lies
with the party alleging that the action is moot. See
are exceptions to the mootness doctrine. Thus, even if an
action appears moot on its face, a court will refrain from
dismissing the action when certain circumstances are present.
The four generally recognized exceptions are: (1) the
plaintiff continues to have secondary or collateral injuries
even after resolution of the primary injury; (2) the issue is
deemed a wrong capable of repetition yet evading review; (3)
the defendant voluntarily ceases an alleged illegal practice,
but is free to ...