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Gale v. United States Dep't of Justice

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


February 19, 2010

MELVIN GALE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

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

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff pro se Melvin Gale, a prisoner in federal custody under sentence imposed in 1977 by the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, sues the Department of Justice, the Parole Commission, the District of Columbia, and John Caulfield, the Warden of the local detention facility under contract with the District. Invoking 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Gale demands $3.5 million in damages for alleged violations of the ex post facto and due process clauses of the Constitution (Art. I, § 9; Amend. V). The District of Columbia and the federal defendants have each filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, and Gale has filed an opposition to each. These motions must be granted. Warden Caulfield has not appeared in the case, but the complaint against him will be dismissed sua sponte. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

If we were ever to reach the merits of the plaintiff's complaint, he would lose,*fn1 but the case must be dismissed before we reach that point. The United States and its agencies are immune from suit except insofar as Congress has expressly waived that immunity. Lane v. Pena, 518 U.S. 187, 192 (1996); United States v. Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206, 212 (1983). Congress has not waived federal agencies' immunity from suit for damages for alleged violations of the Constitution. FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 484-85 (1994). "Sovereign immunity is jurisdictional in nature[,]" id. at 475, and Gale's claims against the federal defendants must accordingly be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

The complaint against the District of Columbia and Warden Caulfield must be dismissed for a different reason, namely, that it contains no factual allegations as to those defendants. Not only does it fail to state a claim as to which relief can be granted, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), it fails to state any claim at all.

An order of dismissal accompanies this memorandum.


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