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Coleman v. Wilson

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division

March 2, 2018

BLAIR COLEMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
HEATHER WILSON, Secretary of the Air Force, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND RECOMMENDATION

          David S. Cayer Jr. United States Magistrate Judge.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on “Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction]” (document #6), as well as the parties' briefs and exhibits.

         On January 31, 2018, this Motion was referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         Having fully considered the arguments, the record, and the applicable authority, the undersigned respectfully recommends that “Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction]” (document #6) be granted, as discussed below.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff seeks an injunction pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. §§ 701 et seq., awarding him a disability retirement pension. On October 24, 2005, Plaintiff was medically separated from the United States Air Force for an anxiety disorder. At the time, he was a staff sergeant on active duty. Plaintiff's medical condition arose from his deployment to Iraq in 2004, where he witnessed another service member being severely injured during a mortar attack.

         As a result, Plaintiff was entered into the Disability Evaluation System process. His claim was forwarded to an Informal Physical Evaluation Board (IPEB) to determine whether his diagnosis for anxiety disorder made him unfit for military duty. On September 9, 2005, the IPEB concluded that Plaintiff was unfit for military duty and assigned him a disability rating of ten percent.

         In 2008, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act which mandated retroactive consideration of earlier claims under new regulations related to post-traumatic stress disorder. These determinations were made by the Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR).

         On April 16, 2011, Plaintiff requested a hearing before the PDBR, stating “I should have been medically retired. I was a career airman planning on making the Air Force my career. I feel 10% is unfair considering I'm still suffering from symptoms.” On May 17, 2012, the PDBR affirmed the ten percent rating and denied Plaintiff's claim.

         Plaintiff filed this action on June 8, 2017.

         On August 11, 2017, Defendant moved to dismiss arguing that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Defendant asserts that Plaintiff is bringing a monetary claim and thus the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1491; 5 U.S.C. § 702 (limiting APA relief to something “other than money damages”) provides an adequate remedy. The Court of Federal Claims has exclusive jurisdiction over such monetary claims against the United States where it is apparent on its face that the amount demanded exceeds $10, 000.

         Defendant's Motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for determination.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Federal district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. United States ex rel. Vuyyuru v. Jadhav, 555 F.3d 337, 347 (4th Cir. 2009). “They possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute.” Randall v. United States, 95 F.3d 339, 344 (4th Cir. 1996). ‚ÄúThus, when a district court lacks subject ...


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