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Demetreous Brown v. Eric Holder et al

March 22, 2011

DEMETREOUS BROWN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ERIC HOLDER ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Re Document No.: 10

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS'MOTION TO DISMISS

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the court on the defendants' motion to dismiss. The pro se plaintiff, a federal prisoner, commenced this action under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. §§ 701 et seq., challenging his designation to a low-security Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") facility. Because the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the plaintiff's claim, the court grants the defendants' motion.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

After entering a guilty plea to numerous drug and firearms-related offenses, the plaintiff was sentenced by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana to 220 months of incarceration. Compl. ¶ 1. At some point thereafter, the plaintiff was resentenced to 168 months of incarceration. Id. ¶ 13. On December 14, 2009, the plaintiff filed suit in this court, alleging that the defendants had violated the APA by failing to reclassify his security level and re-designate him to a minimum-security facility in light of his new sentence.*fn1 See generally id. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss on May 28, 2010, arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction over the plaintiff's claim or, alternatively, that the plaintiff has not stated a claim upon which relief can be granted. See generally Defs.' Mot. With the motion now fully briefed, the court turns to the applicable legal standards and the parties' arguments.

III. ANALYSIS

A.Legal Standard for a Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1)

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and the law presumes that "a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); see also Gen. Motors Corp. v. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 363 F.3d 442, 448 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (noting that "[a]s a court of limited jurisdiction, we begin, and end, with an examination of our jurisdiction").

Because "subject-matter jurisdiction is an 'Art[icle] III as well as a statutory requirement[,] no action of the parties can confer subject-matter jurisdiction upon a federal court.'" Akinseye v. Dist. of Columbia, 339 F.3d 970, 971 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (quoting Ins. Corp. of Ir., Ltd. v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee, 456 U.S. 694, 702 (1982)). On a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the court has subject matter jurisdiction. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992).

Because subject matter jurisdiction focuses on the court's power to hear the claim, however, the court must give the plaintiff's factual allegations closer scrutiny when resolving a Rule 12(b)(1) motion than would be required for a Rule 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim. See Macharia v. United States, 334 F.3d 61, 64, 69 (D.C. Cir. 2003); Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police v. Ashcroft, 185 F. Supp. 2d 9, 13 (D.D.C. 2001). Thus, the court is not limited to the allegations contained in the complaint. Hohri v. United States, 782 F.2d 227, 241 (D.C. Cir. 1986), vacated on other grounds, 482 U.S. 64 (1987). Instead, "where necessary, the court may consider the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record, or the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts." Herbert v. Nat'l Acad. of Scis., 974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C. Cir. 1992) (citing Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 413 (5th Cir. 1981)).

B. The Court Lacks Subject Matter Jurisdiction Over the Plaintiff's Claim

The defendants argue that the BOP's decision regarding the plaintiff's security designation is exempt from judicial review under the APA. Defs.' Mot. at 10-12. The plaintiff contends that his claim is properly before this court. Pl.'s Opp'n at 5-9.

The APA generally affords judicial review to "[a] person suffering legal wrong because of agency action, or adversely affected or aggrieved by agency action within the meaning of a relevant statute." 5 U.S.C. § 702. Under the APA, a reviewing court must set aside an agency action that is "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law." Id. § 706; Tourus Records, Inc. v. Drug Enforcement Admin., 259 F.3d 731, 736 (D.C. Cir. 2001). A court may not review an agency action, however, where "(1) statutes preclude judicial review; or (2) agency action is committed to agency discretion by law." 5 U.S.C. § 701(a)(2); Heckler v. Chaney, 470 U.S. 821, 828 (1985). The APA's ban on judicial review of such actions is jurisdictional. Balt. Gas & Elec. Co. v. Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm'n, 252 F.3d 456, 459 (D.C. Cir. 2001) (holding that "[t]he ban on judicial review of actions 'committed to agency ...


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