United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
P. Mehta United States District Judge.
suit brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act, Plaintiff
Alvin Gaskins alleges that Defendant United States
negligently and falsely imprisoned him when it failed to
release him from jail until fourteen days after his
conviction was vacated. Defendant has moved for partial
summary judgment, not at this point contesting liability, but
rather arguing that Plaintiff’s damages are capped by
Texas state law, which operates in this case to determine the
extent of Defendant’s liability. Defendant asserts that
the Tim Cole Act, which is a Texas law that compensates
certain wrongfully imprisoned persons at a rate of $80, 000
per year, applies to Plaintiff. Under the Act, Defendant
argues, Plaintiff’s damages for two weeks of wrongful
detention are approximately $3, 100. Accordingly, the narrow
question presented by Defendant’s motion is whether the
Tim Cole Act applies in this case.
court concludes that the Tim Cole Act does not apply and
denies Defendant’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.
convicted Plaintiff of conspiring to distribute narcotics; he
was sentenced to 262 months of imprisonment. See United
States v. Gaskins, 690 F.3d 569, 576 (D.C. Cir. 2012).
On April 30, 2012, after he had served approximately eight
years, the Court of Appeals reversed Plaintiff’s
conviction, finding that the evidence presented at trial was
insufficient to sustain his conviction. Id.;
Def.’s Statement of Material Facts not in Genuine
Dispute [hereinafter Undisputed Material Facts], ECF No. 18,
¶ 3; Pl.’s Resp. to Def.’s Statement of
Material Facts, ECF No. 20, at 9. The Court of Appeals also
ordered the trial court to enter a judgment of acquittal,
which occurred the next day, May 1, 2012. Undisputed Material
Facts ¶¶ 3-4.
federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) did not,
however, release Plaintiff immediately. It allowed two weeks
to pass before releasing him on May 15, 2012. Id.
¶ 5. At the time his conviction was vacated, Plaintiff
was incarcerated at a BOP facility in Texas. Compl., ECF No.
1, ¶ 7.
filed this action under the Federal Tort Claims Act
(“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1), alleging
that the United States is liable for his over-detention under
the common law torts of negligence and false imprisonment.
See Compl. ¶¶ 4, 8-12, 15-21. Plaintiff
sought compensatory damages, litigation costs, and any other
appropriate relief. Id. at 3.
status hearing held on September 4, 2015, Defendant asserted
that Texas law-which applies in this case for purposes of
determining the extent of Defendant’s liability under
the FTCA-contains a statutory cap on the damages available to
Plaintiff. The court suggested, and the parties agreed, to
brief that discrete issue on a partial motion for summary
judgment, which is now before the court. See
Def.’s Mot. for Partial Summ. J., ECF No. 18
[hereinafter Def.’s Mot.].
brings suit under Section 1346(b)(1) of the FTCA, which makes
the United States liable
for injury or loss of property, or personal injury or death
caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any
employee of the Government while acting within the scope of
his office or employment, under circumstances where the
United States, if a private person, would be liable to the