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Stoddard v. U.S. Parole Com'n

United States District Court, District of Columbia

October 26, 2012

Keith O. STODDARD, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. PAROLE COMMISSION, et al., Defendants.

Keith Oliver Stoddard, Washington, DC, pro se.

Sobia Haque, U.S. Attorney's Office for DC, Washington, DC, for Defendants.

Page 39

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES E. BOASBERG, District Judge.

Plaintiff Keith Stoddard has brought this pro se action against the U.S. Parole Commission, its chairman Isaac Fulwood, and two other USPC employees relating to his detention for a parole violation. Defendants now move to dismiss the Complaint on several independent grounds, including improper service and various forms of immunity. As Plaintiff has abjured any individual-capacity claims, and as the principles of sovereign immunity and administrative exhaustion protect the USPC itself here, the Court will grant the Motion.

I. Background

According to his Amended Complaint, the truth of which must be presumed at this stage, Plaintiff was arrested in Virginia in March 2011 for driving under the influence. See Am. Compl. at 1. As a result, the USPC issued a parole-violator warrant for him " with instructions that [the] warrant be held in abeyance pending [the] outcome of [the Virginia] proceedings." Id. The warrant was nonetheless executed, and Plaintiff turned himself in on April 22. Id. at 2. He was thereafter taken to the D.C. Jail. Id. He never received a probable-cause hearing and was not released until July 6. Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff claims that such allegedly improper detention caused him severe emotional distress and cost him his job and school enrollment. Id. at 3-5. The Amended Complaint, however, sets forth neither any cause of action nor any prayer for relief. As Plaintiff has been released from custody, the Court can only assume that he seeks monetary damages here.

Plaintiff's initial Complaint (ECF No. 1) named four Defendants: the USPC, Chairman Fulwood, and USPC employees David Wynn and Jequan Jackson. The last two were expressly named in their individual capacities. See Compl. at 1. On July 16, 2012, the Court issued a Minute Order advising Plaintiff that, if he wished to sue any Defendant in his individual capacity, he must effect service in the manner prescribed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(i)(3). On July 24, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, which simply names as Defendants in its caption " U.S. Parole Commission, et., al." Am. Compl. at 1. The Court assumed at that point that Plaintiff wished to proceed against all Defendants in the fashion articulated in the original Complaint. Three days later, however, Plaintiff filed a " Notice to the Court," in which he mentioned his efforts at service and then concluded, " [P]laintiff will suspend his prosecution of these various officials being sued in their individual [ ] capacities, unless circumstances change." Notice at 2.

Defendants have now moved to dismiss Plaintiff's suit, asserting a number of infirmities.

II. Legal Standard

To survive a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), Plaintiff bears the burden of proving that the Court has subject-matter jurisdiction to hear his claims. See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992); U.S. Ecology, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Interior, 231 F.3d 20, 24 (D.C.Cir.2000). A court has an " affirmative obligation to ensure that it is acting within the scope of its jurisdictional authority." Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police v. Ashcroft, 185 F.Supp.2d 9, 13 (D.D.C.2001). For this reason, " ‘ the [p]laintiff's factual allegations in the complaint ... will bear closer scrutiny in resolving a 12(b)(1) motion’ than in resolving a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim." Id. at 13-14 (quoting

Page 40

5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1350 (2d ed. 1987) (alteration in original)). Additionally, unlike with a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court " may consider materials outside the pleadings in deciding whether to grant a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction...." Jerome Stevens Pharms., Inc. v. F.D.A., 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C.Cir.2005); see also Venetian Casino Resort, L.L.C. v. E.E.O.C., 409 F.3d 359, 366 (D.C.Cir.2005) (" given the present posture of this case— a dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) on ripeness ...


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