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Chandler v. Federal Bureau of Prisons

United States District Court, District of Columbia

June 27, 2017

JOHNNY RAY CHANDLER, Plaintiff,
v.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          BERYL A. HOWELL Chief Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, Alternatively, for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 6. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant the motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         From March 2, 2015 to September 7, 2016, the plaintiff was in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) and incarcerated at the Administrative Maximum United States Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado (“ADX Florence”). Mem. in Support of Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss or, Alternatively, for Summ. J. (“Defs.' Mem.”), Decl. of Patrick Kissell (“Kissell Decl.”) ¶ 2. He since has been transferred to the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. Kissell Decl. ¶ 2.[1]

         On August 3, 2016, the plaintiff sent a “cop-out, ” an Inmate Request to Staff, to a female staff member, Angel Espinoza-Levi:

Pursuant to my Institutional Files and my Case Man[ager, ] I have an up-coming M.R.D. (Mandatory Release Date) in May of 2017. I think that you are a very interesting and appealing young person. For the sole purpose of getting better acquainted and establishing a line of purely platonic communication, I respectfully request that you and I exchange E-Mail addresses.

xCompl., ECF No. 1-1, Ex. A. Ms. Espinoza-Levi allegedly responded by “falsely accus[ing] the plaintiff] of harassment, stalking and taunting, ” Compl. at 2, presumably by filing an incident report charging the plaintiff with a disciplinary violation, see id. at 1-2. After all, the plaintiff remarked, a cop-out may be used to make “any type of request” to staff. Id. at 2. “All [he] did was follow policy, liberally.” Id.

         The BOP's Administrative Remedy Program is the means by which inmates may “seek formal review of any aspect of their confinement.” Kissell Decl. ¶ 4 (citing 28 C.F.R. § 542.10). It “is typically a four-tiered review process comprised of an informal resolution process and then formal requests to the Warden, the Regional Director, and the Office of the General Counsel.” Id.; see 28 C.F.R. §§ 542.15, 542.18. The “process is not complete until the Office of General Counsel replies, on the merits, to the inmate's [request].” Id. ¶ 5 (citing 28 C.F.R. § 542.18).

         The BOP's declarant states that, of the 24 formal administrative remedy requests or appeals submitted by the plaintiff between August 3, 2016 and February 1, 2017, id. ¶ 7, only one advanced to the Office of General Counsel, id. ¶ 8. “This request is an appeal of a remedy request dated June 25, 2016 that precedes” the events set forth in the plaintiff's complaint. Id. None of the plaintiff's other requests for this time period “relate[s] to the claims in this litigation alleged to have occurred in August 2016.” Id. ¶ 9. The declarant's review of “the BOP's Administrative Tort Claims database [reveals that the p]laintiff did not submit any administrative tort claims with the BOP related to the claims alleged in this litigation.” Id. ¶ 11.

         On September 8, 2016, the plaintiff filed a civil action in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia against the BOP and Ms. Espinoza-Levi “[f]or the torts of: (1) False Accusation and (2) Abuse of Process.” Compl. at 1. He demanded judgment in his favor and monetary damages of $100, 000. Id. The defendants removed the action on January 4, 2017. See Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1. Accompanying their notice was a statement certifying that “Defendant Angel Espinoza-Levi was an employee of the Government and was acting within the scope of her employment for the [BOP] at the time of the allegations stated in Plaintiff's Complaint.” Certification, ECF No. 1-2. The defendants filed their motion to dismiss or for summary judgment on February 17, 2017, and the plaintiff filed his opposition, see Plaintiff's Rebuttal to the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and supporting memorandum (collectively “Pl.'s Opp'n”), ECF No. 10, on April 7, 2017.[2]

         II. DISCUSSION

         The defendants move to dismiss on two grounds: that the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing this action, and that venue in this district is improper. See generally Defs.' Mem. at 4-8.

         A. Exhaustion of ...


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