United States District Court, D. Maryland
Lipton Hollander United States District Judge.
January 19, 2017, plaintiffs Juliet Okasa and Lawrence Kotey
filed a complaint for injunctive relief and mandamus against
Eric Holder, as Attorney General of the United States; Jeh
Johnson, as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security;
Leon Rodriguez, as Director of the U.S. Citizenship and
Immigrations Services ("USCIS"); and Gregory
Collett, as Director of the Baltimore District of USCIC. ECF
Plaintiffs, who were married on March 31, 2010, seek
permanent resident status for Ms. Okasa, who is a citizen of
Ghana. Id. ¶¶ 15-17. In their suit,
plaintiffs seek an order from the Court to compel defendants
to adjudicate the Form I-130 that Mr. Kotey filed on behalf
of Ms. Okasa on December 31, 2013, and the Form I-485
application that Ms. Okasa filed on the same day. See
April 17, 2017, with the consent of plaintiffs‘
counsel, defendants asked the Court to stay the case to allow
plaintiffs the opportunity to respond to a "Notice of
Intent to Deny" the Form I-130 that the USCIS issued on
March 29, 2017. ECF 3, ¶ 5. I granted the motion by
Order of the same day. ECF 4. Then, on July 3, 2017, USCIS
denied the Form I-130 and the Form I-485.
on July 11, 2017, defendants moved to dismiss the case for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1). ECF 5 ("Motion"). Defendants claim that
because USCIS reached a determination on July 3, 2017, as to
Ms. Okasa‘s Form 130 and Form I-485, the lawsuit is
moot. Id. at 2. They assert: "In this case,
USCIS adjudicated Ms. Okasa‘s Form I-130 and Form
I-485. She has received the form of the relief she requested
and there is no longer an effective remedy that this Court
can provide." Id. at 3.
have not responded to the Motion, and the time to do so has
expired. See Local Rule 105.2(a) ("Unless
otherwise ordered by the Court, all memoranda in opposition
to a motion shall be filed within fourteen (13) days of the
service of the motion . . . ."). No hearing is required
to resolve the Motion. See Local Rule 105.6.
Nevertheless, the Court "has an obligation to
review" the Motion "to ensure that dismissal is
proper." Stevenson v. City of Seat Pleasant,
Md., 743 F.3d 411, 416 n.3 (4th Cir. 2014) (collecting
cases); accord Thana v. Bd. of License Commissioners for
Charles Cty., Maryland, No. PWG-14-3481, 2017 WL 57211,
at *1 (D. Md. Jan. 5, 2017), on appeal, No. 17-1192
(4th Cir. 2017).
becomes moot when the issues presented are "‗no
longer live or the parties lack a legally cognizable interest
in the outcome.‘" City of Erie v. Pap's
A.M., 529 U.S. 277, 287 (2000) (quoting County of
Los Angeles v. Davis, 440 U.S. 625, 631 (1979)) (other
internal citations omitted); see also Grutzmacher v.
Howard Cnty., 851 F.3d 332, 349 (4th Cir. 2017).
Fourth Circuit has stated that "‗mootness goes to
the heart of the Article III jurisdiction of the
courts.‘" Castendet-Lewis v. Sessions,
855 F.3d 253, 260 (4th Cir. 2017) (quoting
Friedman's, Inc. v. Dunlap, 290 F.3d 191, 197
(4th Cir. 2002)). "‗The inability of the federal
judiciary to review moot cases derives from the requirement
of Art. III of the Constitution under which the exercise of
judicial power depends upon the existence of a case or
controversy.‘" United States v. Hardy,
545 F.3d 280, 283 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting DeFunis v.
Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312, 316 (1974)); see also Lewis
v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477 (1990)
Arizona Christian Sch. Tuition Org. v. Winn, 563
U.S. 125, 133 (2011), the Supreme Court said: "Continued
adherence to the case-or-controversy requirement of Article
III maintains the public's confidence in an unelected but
restrained Federal Judiciary . . . . For the federal courts
to decide questions of law arising outside of cases and
controversies would be inimical to the Constitution's
democratic character." See also Campbell-Ewald Co.
v. Gomez, U.S., 136 S.Ct. 663, 678 (2016)
("‗No principle is more fundamental to the
judiciary's proper role in our system of government than
the constitutional limitation of federal-court jurisdiction
to actual cases or controversies.‘") (alteration
and citation omitted); Elk Grove Unified Sch. Dist. v.
Newdow, 542 U.S. 1, 11 (2004) (stating that Article III
standing "enforces the Constitution's
case-or-controversy requirement"), abrogated in part
on other grounds by Lexmark Int'l, Inc. v. Static Control
Components, Inc., ___ U.S.___, 134 S.Ct. 1377, 1387-88
other words, during the pendency of a case, an actual
controversy must exist. See Steffel v. Thompson, 415
U.S. 452, 459 n.10 (1974); Williams v. Ozmint, 716
F.3d 801, 808 (4th Cir. 2013). And, "[w]hen a case or
controversy ceases to exist-either due to a change in the
facts or the law-‗the litigation is moot, and the
court's subject matter jurisdiction ceases to exist
also.‘" Porter v. Clarke, 852 F.3d 358,
363 (4th Cir. 2017) (quoting S.C. Coastal Conservation
League v. U.S. Army Corps. of Eng'rs, 789 F.3d 475,
482 (4th Cir. 2015)); see Chafin v. Chafin,
___U.S.___, 133 S.Ct. 1017, 1023 (2013) (holding that
"[f]ederal courts may not decide questions that cannot
affect the rights of litigants in the case before them or
give opinions advising what the law would be upon a
hypothetical state of facts") (internal quotation marks
and brackets omitted); Knox v. Service Employees
Int'l Union, Local 1000, ___U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct.
2277, 2287 (2012) (stating that "[a] case becomes moot
only when it is impossible for a court to grant any effectual
relief whatever to the prevailing party") (internal
quotation marks omitted).
context of cases to compel the USCIS to adjudicate
immigration forms, various judges in this District have
observed that when the USCIS actually adjudicates the form,
the case becomes moot. See Garcia Martinez v.
Johnson, TDC-16-0325, 2016 WL 4120446, at *1 (D. Md.
Aug. 1, 2016) ("Here, Garcia-Martinez initiated this
case to compel Defendants to adjudicate his I-485
application. They have done so. Garcia Martinez has received
the relief sought in the Complaint. This case is therefore
moot."); Watkins v. Napolitano, RWT-11-2257,
2012 WL 4069763, at *3 (D. Md. Sept. 14, 2012) ("In the
present case, the Plaintiffs' petition for a writ of
mandamus is moot because the USCIS has already adjudicated
petitioner's Form I- 130.").
indicated, in the case sub judice, plaintiffs
initiated the case to compel the defendants to adjudicate Ms.
Okasa‘s Form I-130 and Form I-485. The defendants have
represented that the USCIS has done so. ECF 5, ¶ 4.
Plaintiffs have received the relief that they requested in
the Complaint. Therefore, there is no longer an active case
or controversy; the case must be dismissed as moot.
I shall grant defendants‘ Motion to Dismiss (ECF 5) for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1), without prejudice. See S. Walk at Broadlands
Homeowner's Ass'n, Inc. v. OpenBand at Broadlands,
LLC, 713 F.3d 175, 185 (4th Cir. 2013).