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United States v. Mooney

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 15, 2018

United States of America, Plaintiff,
William J. Mooney, Joni T. Mooney, and Harbor Holdings, Mid-Atlantic Trustees and Administrators, Defendants.

          Michael R. Pahl, United States Department of Justice, for Plaintiff.

          William J. Mooney and Joni T. Mooney, pro se.




         This matter comes before the Court on the Answer and Objection [Doc. No. 113] (“Objection”) of Defendants William J. Mooney and Joni T. Mooney (together, the “Mooney Defendants”) to United States Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois's Report and Recommendation (“R&R”), dated November 2, 2017 [Doc. No. 112]. The magistrate judge recommended that the Mooney Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 83] be denied.

         Pursuant to statute, this Court reviews de novo any portion of the magistrate judge's opinion to which specific objections are made, and “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations” contained in that opinion. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b); D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(3). For the reasons stated herein, the Court overrules the Mooney Defendants' objections and adopts the R&R in its entirety.


         The facts underlying this case and the present motion have been thoroughly and accurately stated in the R&R, the background section of which the Court incorporates by reference here. As the Court previously noted in its Order denying the Mooney Defendants' motion to dismiss and adopting the magistrate judge's R&R, the Mooney Defendants have taken an unconventional approach to this litigation. (Order dated May 31, 2017 [Doc. No. 78], at 3.) Since the Court's last order in this case, the Mooney Defendants have proceeded with the same litigation strategy as before, filing this and other motions accompanied by a series of affidavits such as their “Affidavit of Non Response to Notice of Fault in Dishonor.” The Mooney Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment raises nine issues which Magistrate Judge Brisbois addressed in the R&R. Several arguments raised in this motion simply restate arguments from the Motion to Dismiss which were already rejected by this Court, and are now barred by the law-of-the-case doctrine. (See R&R, at 4-7.) After reviewing the rest of the arguments, Magistrate Judge Brisbois found that the Mooney Defendants had failed to show that the United States could not succeed, as a matter of law, on the claims presented in the case. (Id. at 10-13.)

         Magistrate Judge Brisbois filed the R&R as to the Mooney Defendants' motion on November 2, 2017, recommending that the motion be denied. The Mooney Defendants have since filed timely objections to the R&R, triggering this de novo review. The Mooney Defendants raise three objections to Magistrate Judge Brisbois's R&R: (1) that the Government failed to provide legal authority establishing the Mooney Defendants' obligation to pay the taxes in question; (2) that counsel for the United States lacks the power to bring this suit; and (3) that the statute of limitations has expired for claims that arose from the 2002 and 2003 tax periods, or alternatively, that the form giving notice of the liens was illegally filed.


         A. Standard of Review

         Upon issuance of an R&R, a party may “serve and file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2) (emphasis added). “The objections should specify the portion of the magistrate judge's [R&R] to which objections are made and provide a basis for those objections.” Mayer v. Walvatne, No. 07-cv-1958 (JRT/RLE), 2008 WL 4527774, at *2 (D. Minn. Sept. 28, 2008). Objections which are not specific but merely parrot arguments already presented to and considered by the magistrate judge are not entitled to de novo review. Dunnigan v. Fed. Home Loan Mortg. Corp., No. 15-cv-2626 (SRN/JSM), 2017 WL 825200, at *3 (D. Minn. Mar. 2, 2017) (citing Mashak v. Minnesota, No. 11-cv-473 (JRT/JSM), 2012 WL 928251, at *2 (D. Minn. Mar. 19, 2012)). Furthermore, when presenting arguments to a magistrate judge, parties must put forth “not only their ‘best shot' but all of their shots.” Ridenour v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharm., Inc., 679 F.3d 1062, 1067 (8th Cir. 2012) (quotations and citations omitted). Thus, a party cannot, in his objections to an R&R, raise arguments that were not clearly presented to the magistrate judge. Hammann v. 1-800, Inc., 455 F.Supp.2d 942, 947-48 (D. Minn. 2006).

         B. Statutory Authority for United States' Claims

         The Mooney Defendants assert that the Government has not cited any statute that would obligate them to pay the taxes at issue in this case, which they refer to as “1040” taxes. (Obj., at 2-3.) The Mooney Defendants raised this argument in their summary judgment motion and Magistrate Judge Brisbois addressed it in the R&R. (See R&R, at 12- 13.) As Magistrate Judge Brisbois noted, the Mooney Defendants' argument arises from their misunderstanding of the charges in the Complaint. (Id.) The Complaint alleges that the Mooney Defendants failed to pay federal income tax, which is generally reported on a “Form 1040.” (Compl. [Doc. No. 1] ¶¶ 6-11.) The Mooney Defendants misapprehend this to mean that the Government alleges they failed to pay estate ...

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