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Georgacarakos v. Watts

May 23, 2007

PETER N. GEORGACARAKOS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HARRELL WATTS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James Robertson United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Mr. Georgacarakos is a federal inmate proceeding pro se. He filed this action pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 404 U.S. 388 (1971), alleging that employees of the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") violated his constitutional rights.*fn1 Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b), defendants move to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, improper venue, and insufficiency of process.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is incarcerated at USP-Florence. Am. Compl. at 2. He alleges that the BOP has discriminated against him based on his religion and improperly labeled him a "white supremacist." Id. at 5. As a result, he was forced to consume a Muslim diet and improperly kept in administrative maximum. Id. He also claims that BOP employees at USP-Florence obstructed his ability to do legal research and destroyed his papers in violation of the First Amendment. Id. at 6, 8.

According to plaintiff, the defendants changed his security classification, thus adding to his time in the prison's isolation unit, in violation of due process. Id. at 6-7. He was ordered to remain in isolation for years despite his depression and was forced to take antidepressants to prevent him from committing suicide. Id. at 7. Plaintiff seeks damages and injunctive and declaratory relief. Id. at 26.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

On a motion to dismiss, I must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Taylor v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., 132 F.3d 753, 761 (D.C. Cir. 1997). "[A] complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir. 2002); Kowal v. MCI Communications Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994). "Indeed it may appear on the face of the pleadings that a recovery is very remote and unlikely but that is not the test." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema, 534 U.S. 506, 515 (2002) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Personal Jurisdiction

Defendants assert that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over them. Plaintiff bears the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over each defendant. Atlantigas Corp. v. Nisource, Inc., 290 F. Supp. 2d 34, 42 (D.D.C. 2003). In order to meet his burden, plaintiff must allege specific facts on which personal jurisdiction can be based; he cannot rely on conclusory allegations. Id. Furthermore, plaintiff cannot aggregate allegations concerning multiple defendants in order to demonstrate personal jurisdiction over any individual defendant. Id. However, plaintiff need only make a prima facie case for personal jurisdiction to survive a motion to dismiss. First Chicago Int'l v. United Exch. Co., 836 F.2d 1375, 1378 (D.C. Cir. 1988).

In deciding a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2), the court need not treat plaintiff's allegations as true. Atlantigas Corp., 290 F. Supp. 2d at 42. Rather, it may consider and weigh affidavits and other relevant matter in making the jurisdictional determination. Id. Hence, a court may consider materials outside the pleadings in ruling on a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Artis v. Greenspan, 223 F. Supp. 2d 149, 152 (D.D.C. 2002).

The complaint does not list the addresses of the defendants, but states that Hood, Wiley, Smith, Helm, Martinez and Javernick are employed at USP-Florence in Colorado. Am. Compl. at 3-4. Defendant Watts is located at the BOP's headquarters in Washington, DC. Id. at 2. This fact by itself is insufficient to confer personal jurisdiction over a BOP official. See Cameron v. Thornburgh, 983 F.2d 253, 256 (D.C. Cir. 1993). Defendants Nalley and Hershberger are or were employed at the BOP's regional office in Kansas. Am. Comp. at 2, 3-4. None of the defendants appears to reside in the District of Columbia and plaintiff has not made such a claim. Plaintiff therefore has not established personal jurisdiction based on residence in the District. The District of Columbia long-arm statute, D.C. Code § 13-423 is the only basis upon which personal jurisdiction may be exercised over defendants who do not reside within or maintain a place of business in the District. See Reuber v. United States, 750 F.2d 1039, 1040 (D.C. Cir. 1984); Robertson v. Merola, 895 F.Supp. 1, 3 (D.D.C. 1995). The long-arm statute provides that a Court may exercise personal jurisdiction over those who have (1) transacted business in the District of Columbia; (2) contracted to supply services in the District of Columbia; (3) caused a tortious injury in the District of Columbia by an act or omission in the District; or (4) caused a tortious injury in the District of Columbia by an act or omission outside the District while regularly doing or soliciting business or engaging in any other persistent course of conduct in the District. D.C. Code § 13-423(a)(1)-(4)(2006). Defendants are subject to personal jurisdiction in a forum if they purposely "establish minimal contacts" such that "the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). For there to be personal jurisdiction under the long-arm statute, a plaintiff must allege some specific facts evincing purposeful activity by defendants in the District of Columbia, by which they invoked the benefits and protections of its laws, and specific acts connecting the defendants with the forum. See Cellutech v. Centennial Cellular Corp., 871 F.Supp. 46, 48 (D.D.C. 1994). A defendant must "reasonably anticipate" "being haled into" the plaintiff's chosen forum. WorldWide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980).

The complaint does not allege that any of the defendants transacted business in the District of Columbia or committed or caused a tortious injury here.*fn2 Therefore, the Court also lacks personal ...


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