United States District Court, S.D. Florida
P. GAYLES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
CAUSE comes before the Court on the Motion to
Dismiss (the “Motion”) filed by Defendants
Yeseira Diaz, Field Office Director, U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services (“USCIS”); Jefferson B.
Sessions III, Attorney General of the United States; and
Elaine Duke, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security (“DHS, ” and, together with the
other Defendants, the “Government”) [ECF No.
8].The Court has carefully considered the
Motion and the record and is otherwise fully advised. For the
reasons that follow, Defendants' Motion is granted.
April 10, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
(“USCIS”) denied the application of Plaintiff
Luis Daniel (“Daniel”), a native and citizen of
Cuba, for adjustment of status under the Cuban Refugee
Adjustment Act (“CAA”), Pub. L. No. 89-732, 80
Stat. 1161 § 1 (codified as amended at 8 U.S.C. §
1255 note). Although USCIS determined that Daniel was
“eligible for adjustment of status” under the
CAA, it determined, based on an evaluation of favora- ble and
adverse factors in Daniel's application and interview,
that Daniel “ha[d] not met the burden of demonstrating
. . . that [he] warrant[ed] a favorable exercise of
discretion…” [ECF No. 1-3 at 2]. Namely, USCIS
noted that Daniel previously had worked for the Cuban
Ministry of the Interior as an investigator in the
counterintelligence unit and had worked for CIMEX, the Cuban
Import Export Corporation. Id.
then filed a lawsuit before this Court, alleging that he
timely filed a motion for reconsideration of USCIS's
decision, which USCIS denied in a short written decision.
See Daniel v. Castro, No. 15-21828 (S.D. Fla. May
14, 2015) (Daniel I).The complaint in Daniel I
alleged that USCIS committed procedural error by denying
Daniel's motion for reconsideration without explaining
the basis for its denial, in violation of 8 C.F.R. §
103.3(a)(1)(i). The Government moved to dismiss Daniel's
complaint arguing, first, that the Court lacked subject
matter jurisdiction to consider Daniel's claims because
he was challenging the underlying discretionary denial of his
CAA application, which is precluded by 8 U.S.C. §
1252(a)(2)(B)(ii); and, second, that Daniel's procedural
challenge was without merit because USCIS adequately
explained its reasons for denying the motion for
reconsideration. In response, Daniel conceded that the
underlying discretionary denial of his CAA application would
be unreviewable by stating that:
If [he] was in fact challenging USCIS' April 10, 2013
discretionary denial of his I-485 application
judicial review would be precluded under 8 U.S.C.
1252(a)(2)(B). . . . Because Mr. Daniel's
Form I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status pursuant to
Section 1 of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 is under the
purview of the Attorney General's discretion, then
USCIS's April 13, 2010 discretionary denial
of his application would be unreviewable in
this Court despite the lack of any statutory ineligibility.
See Pl. Resp. in Opp. to Defs. Mot. to Dismiss at
3-4, Daniel I (ECF No. 12).
September 30, 2015, the Court entered an Order dismissing the
Daniel I Complaint for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. Daniel I, No. 15-21828, 2015
WL 5727990, at *1 (S.D. Fla. Sept. 30, 2015). On appeal, the
Eleventh Circuit affirmed the Court's decision in a
written opinion. Daniel v. Castro, 662 Fed.Appx. 645
(11th Cir. 2016) (per curiam). Although Daniel attempted to
argue, for the first time on appeal, that §
1252(a)(2)(B)(ii) did not apply to the CAA, the Eleventh
Circuit declined to resolve the issue because “Daniel
expressly conceded to the district court that the
discretionary denial of his CAA application was unreviewable
under § 1252(a)(2)(B)(ii).” Id. at 649.
Daniel filed the instant action where he alleges, in direct
contradiction to his prior representations to the Court, that
“judicial review of USCIS' discretionary decision
is not precluded under INA §§ 242(a)(2)(B)(i)-(ii)
[8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(2)(B)(i)-(ii)].” [ECF No. 1 at
¶ 12]. Defendants moved to dismiss arguing that
Daniel's claims are barred by res judicata.
survive a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a claim “must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, '”
meaning that it must contain “factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). While a court must accept well-pleaded factual
allegations as true, “conclusory allegations . . . are
not entitled to an assumption of truth-legal conclusions must
be supported by factual allegations.” Randall v.
Scott, 610 F.3d 701, 709-10 (11th Cir. 2010).
“[T]he pleadings are construed broadly, ”
Levine v. World Fin. Network Nat'l Bank, 437
F.3d 1118, 1120 (11th Cir. 2006), and the allegations in the
complaint are viewed in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, Bishop v. Ross Earle & Bonan, P.A.,
817 F.3d 1268, 1270 (11th Cir. 2016).
doctrine of res judicata (or claim preclusion)
“prohibits successive litigation of the very same claim
by the same parties.” Whole Woman's Health v.
Hellerstedt, 136 S.Ct. 2292, 2305 (2016) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted). This prohibition bars
“the parties or their privies from relitigating issues
that were or could have been raised” in a prior action
that resulted in a final judgment on the merits. Allen v.
McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 94 (1980); see also Mal-donado
v. U.S. Atty. Gen., 664 F.3d 1369, 1375 (11th Cir.
2011). A party seeking to invoke this doctrine must establish
the following four initial elements: “(1) there is a
final judgment on the merits; (2) the decision was rendered
by a court of competent jurisdiction; (3) the parties, or
those in privity with them, are identical in both suits; and
(4) the same cause of action is involved in both
cases.” Ragsdale v. Rubbermaid, Inc., 193 F.3d
1235, 1238 (11th Cir. 1999); see also Kaiser Aerospace
& Elecs. Corp. v. Teledyne Indus., Inc. (In re
Piper Aircraft Corp.), 244 F.3d ...