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TINSLEY v. WIDENER

March 19, 2001

EDWARD G. TINSLEY, PLAINTIFF,
V.
HONORABLE H. EMORY WIDENER, JR. ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Urbina, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

I. INTRODUCTION

The defendant moves to dismiss this action under Rule 12(b)(6) on the ground that the federal-judge defendants are immune from the plaintiffs FTCA suit. See Mot. to Dis. at 5-7. The plaintiff asserts that judicial immunity does not cover the judges' alleged violations of his constitutional rights. See Pl.'s Opp'n at 7. He also pleads a cause of action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 29 L.Ed.2d 619 (1971), which he moves for leave to include in an amended complaint.*fn1 See id. at 8-10.

The defendant also moves to dismiss this action under Rule 12(b)(1) on the ground that the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction because the plaintiff failed to timely file his administrative tort claim. See Mot. to Dis. at 4-5. The plaintiff counters that he did file within two years of his injury and moves to amend his complaint to that effect. See Pl.'s Opp'n to Mot. to Dis. ("Pl.'s Opp'n") at 5-7.

The court holds that judicial immunity bars both the plaintiffs Bivens claims and his FTCA claims. Because the plaintiff has failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted, the court will grant the defendant's motion to dismiss.

II. BACKGROUND

Mr. Tinsley's complaint centers on a string of lawsuits he has filed since 1994. In April 1994, he filed a civil lawsuit in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland, against TRW, Incorporated, Equifax Credit Information Services and Trans Union Corporation for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. See Compl., Ex. 1 at 7. The defendants removed that case to the United States District Court in Maryland. After the plaintiff and Trans Union signed a stipulation of dismissal, the United States District Court in Maryland granted summary judgment to the remaining defendants, TRW and Equifax. See id. The court held that Mr. Tinsley "raised no genuine issue of material fact as to violation of FRCA by Defendants." See Tinsley v. TRW, 879 F. Supp. 550, 552 (D.Md. 1995). Mr. Tinsley appealed this case to the Fourth Circuit, which affirmed the district court's judgment in an unpublished per curiam opinion dated August 15, 1995. See Compl., Ex. 1 at 7. The United States Supreme Court denied Mr. Tinsley's petition for a writ of certiorari on January 8, 1996. See id. at 7-8.

Later in 1996, Mr. Tinsley filed a second suit in the United States District Court in Maryland, raising the same issues against the same parties. See id. at 7; Mot. to Dis. at 2. Once again, the court granted summary judgment for the defendants, this time holding that yes judicata barred the suit. See Compl., Ex. 1 at 8. In the case at bar, Mr. Tinsley contends that the grant of summary judgment by Judge Messitte was a violation of his Seventh Amendment right to a trial by jury. See Compl. at 4-5. In December 1996, Mr. Tinsley appealed this Second dismissal to the Fourth Circuit. A panel of the Fourth Circuit affirmed Judge Messitte's decision on December 31, 1996. See Mot. to Dis. at 2. Mr. Tinsley also appealed Judge Messitte's order denying his "motion for entry of final judgment."*fn2 Judges Widener, Murnaghan, and Phillips affirmed this order on May 8, 1997. See id. In his present complaint, Mr. Tinsley claims the appellate judges lacked subject-matter jurisdiction because the district court failed to enter a final judgment in his second suit. See Compl. at 5-7. On May 13, 1997, Mr. Tinsley filed a petition for rehearing with the Fourth Circuit. The Fourth Circuit denied his petition on July 7, 1997. See Mot. to Dis. at 2.

Meanwhile, on April 25, 1997, Mr. Tinsley filed a third suit in the United States District Court in Maryland, seeking damages under the FTCA against the United States for Judge Messitte's grant of summary judgment in his second suit. See Tinsley v. United States, 1997 WL 580586 (D.Md. 1997). On May 6, 1997, the United States District Court in Maryland dismissed the action, holding that the United States had not waived its sovereign immunity. See id. at *1.

Challenging the decisions with respect to his second suit, Mr. Tinsley filed an administrative tort claim with the Administrative Office of the United States Courts ("AOUSC") on July 1, 1999. On July 30, 1999, the AOUSC denied his claim in full. See Compl. at 13; Mot. to Dis. at 3.

Mr. Tinsley filed his complaint in this court on January 28, 2000. On March 29, 2000, the federal-judge defendants filed a certification pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2679, certifying that they had acted within the scope of their authority as employees of the United States. See Mot. to Dis. at 4. Thus, the United States became the sole defendant in this matter. See 28 U.S.C. § 2679 (d)(2).

In his complaint, Mr. Tinsley claims that the defendant does not have judicial immunity for its actions under the FTCA. See Compl. at 11. He claims the federal-judge defendants "knowingly usurped, or took jurisdiction of Tinsley v. TRW Inc., PJM-96-372, claimed to be acting as a court, and acted erroneously." See id. at 17. Mr. Tinsley demands judgment against the defendant in the amount of $2,567,796.00. He claims he demonstrated these damages during his second suit in the United States District Court in Maryland. See id. at 19. He also demands interest from July 7, 1997, the date on which his case "was dismissed ...


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