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Edwards v. United States

United States District Court, District of Columbia

September 30, 2016

VINCENT EDWARDS, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          TANYA S. CHUTKAN United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Vincent Edwards brings this action against the United States of America asserting that the District of Columbia Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency ("CSOSA") negligently detained him for thirty days after a no probable cause parole violation finding. Defendant has filed a Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 9). For the reasons set forth below, the court will GRANT the motion.

         A. BACKGROUND

         The United States Marshals Service arrested Plaintiff on October 29, 2013 for an alleged probation violation. (Compl. ¶ 5). On November 12, 2013, a court found that there was no probable cause to support a finding that Plaintiff had violated his parole and ed his immediate release, but he ended up being held for an additional thirty days and was released on December 13, 2013. (Id. ¶¶ 7-8). Plaintiff alleges that CSOSA "negligently caused his over detention by losing his paperwork" and he brings claims pursuant to the "tort claims act." (Id. ¶¶ 4, 9).

         Defendant seeks dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that the government has not waived its sovereign immunity for Plaintiff s "negligence" claims.

         B. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In considering a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), a court "must review the complaint liberally, granting the plaintiff the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged." Disner v. United States, 888 F.Supp.2d 83, 87 (D.D.C. 2012)(citing Barr v. Clinton, 370 F.3d 1196, 1199 (D.C. Cir. 2004)). However, "the Court need not accept factual inferences drawn by plaintiffs if those inferences are not supported by facts alleged in the complaint, nor must the Court accept plaintiffs legal conclusions." Speelman v. United States, 461 F.Supp.2d 71, 73 (D.D.C. 2006) (citation omitted). "The party claiming subject matter jurisdiction bears the burden of demonstrating that such jurisdiction exists." Stoddard v. Wynn, 68 F.Supp.3d 104, 110 (D.D.C. 2014) (citing Khadr v. United States, 529 F.3d 1112, 1115 (D.C. Cir. 2008)).

         C. ANALYSIS

         Ordinarily, the United States is

immune from suit unless there is explicit statutory waiver of its sovereign immunity. F.D.I.C v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475, 114 S.Ct. 996, 127 L.Ed.2d 308 (1994) ("Absent a waiver, sovereign immunity shields the Federal Government and its agents from suit."). "Sovereign immunity is jurisdictional in nature, " so a claim barred by sovereign immunity lacks subject matter jurisdiction and may be dismissed under a 12(b)(1) motion. Id.
One avenue for statutory waiver of sovereign immunity is the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"). The FTCA operates as a limited waiver of sovereign immunity, rendering the United States amenable to suit for certain . . . claims, subject to various exceptions set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2680.

Scruggs v. Bureau of Engraving & Printing, Civil Case No. 15-2205 (RJL), 2016 WL 4098314, at *3 (D.D.C. Aug. 1, 2016) (footnote and some citations omitted). Thus, as a general proposition, the government is liable for some claims under the FTCA "in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances." Hornbeck Offshore Transp., LLC v. United States, 563 F.Supp.2d 205, 210 (D.D.C. 2008) (citing 28 U.S.C. §§ 2674, 1346(b)(1)), aff'd, 569 F.3d 506 (D.C. Cir. 2009).

         There are exceptions, however, to this general proposition that the government is subject to suit "in the same manner" as a private individual. One of those exceptions

preserves sovereign immunity in claims against the government for certain intentional torts, See 28 U.S.C. § 2680(h) (sovereign immunity bars "any claim arising out of assault, battery, false imprisonment false arrest, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, libel, slander, misrepresentation, deceit, or interference with contract rights"). This is known ...

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