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Portland Food Mart v. United States

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

April 17, 2019

Portland Food Mart, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
United States of America, Defendant.

          Jon E. Paulson, Paulson Law Firm PLLC, for Plaintiffs.

          Erin M. Secord, United States Attorney for Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         This matter comes before the Court on the Government's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint [Doc. No. 7] for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated below, the Court grants the Government's Motion.

         II. Background

         Plaintiff Portland Food Mart is a grocery store operating at 7701 Portland Avenue, Minneapolis. (Compl. [Doc. No. 1-1] at 4.) Plaintiff Harpeet Tandon is the owner of SHRI-HARI, a corporation doing business as Portland Food Mart. (Id. at 1.)

         On August 8, 2016, the Minnesota Department of Health disqualified Plaintiffs from participation in the Women, Infants, and Children (“WIC”) federal assistance program for three years. (Id. at 6.)[1] The Plaintiffs were disqualified because they had engaged in a “pattern of charging WIC customers more for food than non-WIC customers or charging WIC customers more than the current shelf price.” (Id. at 6-7.)[2]

         In letters dated July 25 and August 22, 2017, the Food and Nutrition Service (“FNS”) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture informed Plaintiffs that a reciprocal mandatory disqualification from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) would be imposed. 7 C.F.R. § 278.6(e)(8)(E). (Id. at 11.)

         Plaintiffs filed a timely administrative appeal, arguing that FNS should not have disqualified them from SNAP, but should have instead imposed a monetary penalty pursuant to 7 C.F.R. § 278.6(f)(1). (Compl. ¶ 11.) FNS issued a final decision on April 27, 2018, upholding the three-year disqualification. (Compl. [Doc. No. 1-1] at 11.)

         In this action, Plaintiffs seek judicial review of the FNS suspension of Plaintiffs from participation in SNAP and the finding that Plaintiffs did not meet the hardship requirement set forth in the regulations. The United States moves to dismiss.

         III. Discussion

         A. Motion to Dismiss

          Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 requires that a complaint present “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the [plaintiffs are] entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. When evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court assumes the facts in the complaint to be true and construes all reasonable inferences from those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Hager v. Ark. Dep't of Health, 735 F.3d 1009, 1013 (8th Cir. 2013). However, the Court need not defer to legal ...


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