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Maehr v. United States

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 3, 2019

JEFFREY T. MAEHR, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES, Defendant.

          ORDER

          PHILIP A. BRIMMER, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation on Plaintiff's Opposed Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Dkt. #45) and Defendant's Renewed Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. #82) [Docket No. 94] entered on August 1, 2019. Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter recommends that plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction [Docket No. 45] be denied and defendant's motion to dismiss [Docket No. 82] be granted. Docket No. 94 at 1. Plaintiff filed Objections to Recommendations [Docket No. 96] on August 12, 2019. Defendant responded on August 26, 2019. Docket No. 99.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The background facts and procedural history in this case are set out in the magistrate judge's recommendation and will not be repeated unless necessary for purposes of this order. For the last several years, plaintiff has attempted many times to challenge the IRS's implementation of tax assessments against him for the 2003-06 tax years. See Maehr v. United States, 137 Fed.Cl. 805, 807 (2018) (setting out some of plaintiff's prior court proceedings). Plaintiff has now filed another lawsuit challenging defendant's ability to garnish his social security payments to pay for his tax delinquencies. See Docket No. 70 at 5-6, ¶¶ 17-20. He appears to seek compensatory and punitive damages, fees, and costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2412, and fair compensation for the deprivation of his rights. Docket No. 70 at 8, ¶ 27; at 9, ¶¶ 29-30. Plaintiff also seeks a preliminary injunction ordering “the immediate stay of garnishment of all social security funds.” Docket No. 45 at 2. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's claims. Docket No. 82.

         Magistrate Judge Neureiter recommends that defendant's motion to dismiss be granted, the preliminary injunction motion be denied, and the case be dismissed without prejudice. Docket No. 94 at 13. Plaintiff objects to the magistrate judge's recommendations. Docket No. 96.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Court must “determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). An objection is “proper” if it is both timely and specific. United States v. One Parcel of Real Property Known as 2121 East 30th St., 73 F.3d 1057, 1059 (10th Cir. 1996). A specific objection “enables the district judge to focus attention on those issues - factual and legal - that are at the heart of the parties' dispute.” Id. In the absence of a proper objection, the Court reviews the magistrate judge's recommendation to satisfy itself that there is “no clear error on the face of the record.”[1] Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), Advisory Committee Notes. Because plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court will construe his objection and pleadings liberally without serving as his advocate. See Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Defendant's Motion to Dismiss

         The magistrate judge recommends that the Court dismiss plaintiff's claims without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Docket No. 94 at 9. The magistrate judge found that plaintiff's lawsuit is an improper collateral attack on a final judgment issued by the Tax Court, and that plaintiff cannot now relitigate in district court the issues already adjudicated. Id. at 8-9. Specifically, the magistrate judge found that plaintiff's suit is precluded by 26 U.S.C. § 6512(a), which “bars a suit for refund involving a tax year for which a Tax Court petition contesting a deficiency determination has been filed.” Smith v. United States, 495 Fed.Appx. 44, 48 (10th Cir. 2012) (unpublished); see also Docket No. 94 at 7. On May 9, 2011, plaintiff filed a petition in Tax Court challenging his tax assessments for the years 2003-06. Docket No. 82-1 at 2-3. The Tax Court made findings as to plaintiff's tax deficiencies for those years and dismissed his petition for failure to state a claim. Id. at 3. The Tax Court's decision was affirmed by the Tenth Circuit. Maehr v. C.I.R., 480 Fed.Appx. 921 (10th Cir. 2012) (unpublished).

         Plaintiff raises several objections to the magistrate judge's recommendation. See Docket No. 96. He argues that (1) there is no indication that any of the evidence he submitted in his past cases challenging the tax assessments was “actually adjudicated” and there was no evidence presented that he actually owed a debt, id. at 1-2, 3; (2) the court judgments referenced by the magistrate judge are void due to fraud on the courts, id. at 2-3; and (3) defendant has not presented evidence that, in his prior cases, plaintiff received due process of law or that the “courts even had Plaintiff's evidence in their court at all, ” id. at 3.

         These objections are without merit. To the extent that plaintiff attempts to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence in judgments rendered in other court cases, this is an improper ground on which to base his objection to the magistrate judge's recommendation. Such an argument should have been made to the Tax Court or on appeal of that court's decision. See Michelson v. United States, 1993 WL 313229, at *2 (D.N.M. May 3, 1993) (finding that the plaintiff's “claims that . . . the Tax Court proceedings violated his Constitutional rights . . . should have [been] raised . . . in the Tax Court itself or with the Court of Appeals”); Springer v. Shern, 2011 WL 2971172, at *3 (N.D. Okla. July 20, 2011) (“In the tax context, a final decision of the Tax Court is res judicata as to the tax liability determined by that court, and is not subject to collateral attack in a later proceeding.”); see also Maehr v. C.I.R., 480 Fed.Appx. at 923 (stating that plaintiff's “petition raises no genuine challenge to the notices of deficiency because [his] arguments have been repeatedly rejected by this court”).

         Insofar as plaintiff argues that these court judgments are void due to a “violation of due process of law, general fraud, and fraud on the court itself, ” Docket No. 96 at 4, this argument is conclusory, insufficiently specific, and points to no clear error on the face of the record. There is no basis to find that the court judgments are void. See Jenkins v. Duffy Crane and Hauling, Inc., No. 13-cv-00327-CMA-KLM, 2013 WL 6728892, at *3 (D. Colo. Dec. 20, 2013) (quoting O'Leary v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 923 F.2d 1062, 1066 (3d Cir. 1991) (“A judgment is ‘valid' when it has been rendered by a court of competent subject matter jurisdiction and the party against whom judgment is rendered either has submitted to the jurisdiction of the court or has been afforded adequate notice.”)). Plaintiff has not alleged that the prior courts lacked subject matter jurisdiction or alleged that he was not afforded adequate notice in those cases. Any challenge to the validity of the numerous court judgments confirming plaintiff's tax liabilities is unavailing.

         Finally, plaintiff's focus on whether defendant proved he received due process in his other court proceedings or whether those courts considered plaintiff's evidence is misplaced. Even if plaintiff could raise arguments here as to alleged due process violations in other cases, it is plaintiff's burden to identify and prove the existence of the rights that he alleges the ...


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