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Margineanu v. Sessions

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

July 23, 2018

JEFF B. SESSIONS, in his official Capacity as Attorney General of The United States, et al., Defendants.



         Dan Margineanu brings this lawsuit against Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of the United States, John Kelly as Secretary of the Department of Humans Services, James McCamment as Acting Director of United States Citizens and Immigration Services (USCIS), Thomas Cioppa as District Director of Milwaukee's USCIS office, and Kay Leopold as Field Director of Milwaukee's USCIS office (collectively defendants). Margineanu seeks declarative relief from defendants' decision to deny his I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or “Adjust Status.” Defendants move to dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and 12(b)(6 for failure to state a claim. For the reasons explained below, defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.


         The complaint alleges that Margineanu is a native and citizen of Romania. (Compl. ¶ 17.) Sometime in 1995, Margineanu's former wife filed an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Application and Margineanu filed his initial I-485 Application, which was approved, allowing him to work in the United States. (Compl. ¶ 18.) Margineanu worked for the same employer in Clinton, Iowa, for seventeen years. (Compl. ¶ 19.) After posting his work credentials online mid-2013, Coca Cola offered him a job. (Id.) He initially declined. (Id.) After Coca Cola made an enhanced offer, Margineanu accepted, but chose to begin working January 2014. (Compl. ¶ 20.) After Coca Cola processed Margineanu's acceptance of employment, the Social Security Administration alerted the company that there was a mismatch between the information it provided for Margineanu and the information stored in its databases. (Compl. ¶ 21.) Additionally, when Coca Cola performed an electronic verification, it determined that Margineanu was not authorized to work in the United States. (Id.) Coca Cola terminated its offer of employment. (Compl. ¶ 22.)

         Margineanu was married on January 11, 2014 and his wife, Dorottya, filed an I-130 Application on his behalf. (Compl. ¶ 23.) Margineanu also filed a new I-485 and I-765 application. (Id.) On October 18, 2016, Margineanu's I-485 Application was denied by Kay Leopold, Field Office Director of USCIS. (Compl. ¶ 26.) In the decision, Leopold stated that, according to USCIS records, Margineanu falsely “claimed to be a United States citizen to gain employment” (id.), and therefore, was “restricted from adjustment of status.” (Leopold Decision, Ex. A. of Compl., Docket # 1-3.) On November 4, 2016, Margineanu filed a motion for reconsideration. (Motion for Reconsideration, Ex. B of Compl., Docket # 1-4.) On December 28, 2016, Leopold denied Margineanu's motion. (Reconsideration Denial Order, Ex. O. of Compl., Docket # 1-13.)

         Margineanu seeks declarative judgment against defendants for: (1) an improper denial of his I-485 Application and (2) a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. (Compl. ¶ 50, ¶ 58).


         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and can only decide cases the Constitution and Congress authorize. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994) (internal citation omitted). Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern challenges to the Court's subject matter jurisdiction. “Under Rule 12(b)(1), the district court must accept as true all material allegations of the complaint, drawing all reasonable inferences therefrom in the plaintiff's favor. . . .” Remijas v. Neiman Marcus Group, LLC, 794 F.3d 688, 691 (7th Cir. 2015). However, as the party invoking federal jurisdiction, the plaintiff has the burden to show that jurisdiction is proper. Travelers Prop. Cas. v. Good, 689 F.3d 714, 722 (7th Cir. 2012) (internal citation omitted).

         1. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         Defendants argue that this Court lacks jurisdiction over Margineanu's claim because (1) there is no explicit statutory waiver of sovereign immunity and (2) there is no statute that confers subject matter jurisdiction over Margineanu's claim. The United States, which includes federal agencies, “may not be sued without its consent” and “the consent is a prerequisite for jurisdiction.” United States v. Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206, 212 (1983); F.D.I.C. v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475 (1994). Government waivers of immunity must be expressed clearly in a statute, “are not implied, and are construed narrowly against the plaintiff.” Gessert v. United States, 703 F.3d 1028, 1033 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Soriano v. United States, 352 U.S. 270, 276 (1957)). To maintain a claim against the United States in federal court, a plaintiff must (1) identify a federal statute that “confers subject matter jurisdiction on the district court” and (2) identify a statute that “waives sovereign immunity of the United States to the cause of action.” Macklin v. United States, 300 F.3d 814, 819 (7th Cir. 2002). “Failure to satisfy either requirement mandates the dismissal of the plaintiff's claim.” Id.

         1.1. Waiver Under the Administrative Procedure Act

         Here, Margineanu argues that 5 U.S.C. § 702 of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) waives sovereign immunity. 5 U.S.C. § 702 states, in relevant part:

A person suffering legal wrong because of agency action, or adversely affected or aggrieved by agency action within the meaning of a relevant statute, is entitled to judicial review thereof. An action in a court of the United States seeking relief other than money damages and stating a claim that an agency or an officer or employee thereof acted or failed to act in an official capacity or under color of legal authority shall not be dismissed nor relief therein be denied on the ground that it is against the United States or that the United States is an indispensable party.

5 U.S.C. § 702. Additionally, Margineanu cites to Littel v. Morton, 445 F.2d 1207 (4th Cir. 1971), to argue that the doctrine of sovereign immunity “has been under assault” and that a lack of explicit waiver does not “always and everywhere” preclude district court review. (Pl.'s Br. in Opp. (“Pl.'s Resp.”) at 5, Docket # 13.) Therefore, according to Margineanu, the APA waiver coupled with 28 U.S.C. §§ ...

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