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Melchor R. Jayme v. United States of America

September 13, 2011

MELCHOR R. JAYME, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS ADMINISTRATION, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thompson, U.S.D.J.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter has come before the Court on Defendants the United States Department of Veterans Affairs*fn1 (VA), Eric Shinseki, and Kenneth McQuown's Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, for Summary Judgment [docket # 25]. Plaintiff Melchor Jayme has opposed the motion [30]. The Court has decided the matter after considering the parties' submissions, without holding oral argument, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion is granted.

II. BACKGROUND

In 2009, Congress created the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund (FVEC) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Pub. L. No. 111-5, Title X, § 1002, 123 Stat. 115, 200-02 (to be codified at 38 U.S.C. § 107). The FVEC entitles eligible Filipino veterans of World War II to a one-time payment of $15,000 for U.S. citizens and $9,000 for non-citizens. Id.

Plaintiff Melchor R. Jayme is a Filipino-American who served in the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines and the U.S. Army during World War II. (Am. Compl. 8--9) [21]. On May 13, 2009, Plaintiff filed a claim seeking compensation under the FVEC. (Id. at 2--3). His claim was denied because the VA had previously determined, in a written decision issued May 19, 1953, that he had forfeited all rights to benefits provided by the VA by assisting the enemy Japanese during the war. (Id.) Plaintiff then sent a letter to VA Director Eric Shinseki requesting that Shinseki void the May 1953 decision and an alleged July 1949 decision.*fn2

Plaintiff filed this suit on June 25, 2010. After the Court granted a motion to dismiss, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on April 19, 2011 [21]. The Amended Complaint contains four counts. The first count seeks for the Court to overturn the May 1953 VA decision forfeiting his rights and benefits and award him $15,000. (Am. Compl. 16.) The second count seeks to overturn the alleged July 1949 decision. (Id. at 18.) The third count challenges the VA's decision to designate Plaintiff "Honorable Discharge" rather than "Disability Discharge" and seeks an award of all the rights and benefits owed to disability-discharged veterans. (Id. at 20.) And the forth count seeks to have two laws declared unconstitutional. (Id. at 24.)

Defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment, arguing that 38 U.S.C. § 51 precludes judicial review of veterans' benefits decisions, and thus, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for relief.

III. ANALYSIS

A.Legal Standard

If a defendant challenges the court's jurisdiction under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction, but the burden is light: the court should only dismiss for lack of jurisdiction where the claim "is so insubstantial, implausible, foreclosed by prior decisions of this Court, or otherwise completely devoid of merit as not to involve a federal controversy." Growth Horizons, Inc., v. Del. Cty., Pa., 983 F.2d 1277, 1280-- 81 (3d Cir. 1993) (internal quotations omitted).

In contrast, a motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (citation omitted). The defendant bears the burden of showing that no claim has been presented. Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). When considering a 12(b)(6) motion, a district court must accept as true all of a plaintiff's well-pleaded factual allegations and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to plaintiff, but may disregard any legal conclusions. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). Once the well-pleaded facts have been identified, a court must determine whether the "facts are sufficient to show that plaintiff has a 'plausible claim for relief.'" Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ----, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)).

B.Application

Although Plaintiff's Amended Complaint lists four separate causes of action, each claim essentially seeks the same result: that this Court review and reverse the decisions of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and award Plaintiff the veterans' rights and benefits to which he believes he is entitled. By law, however, this Court does not have jurisdiction to review ...


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