United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RANDOLPH D. MOSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
proceeding pro se, originally brought this action
against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act
(“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1). Dkt. 1. He
contends that while he was incarcerated at the Gilmer Federal
Correction Institution (“FCI Gilmer”) in West
Virginia, another inmate “assaulted him in the
recreation yard.” Woodruff v. United States,
No. 16-1884, 2017 WL 4286190, at *1 (D.D.C. Sept. 26, 2017).
Plaintiff seeks to hold the United States liable for his
injuries on the grounds that “the prison lacked
adequate security measures to prevent such attacks and that
the correctional officers [in the yard at the time] failed to
intervene once the incident was underway.” Id.
His complaint “asserts a single claim for negligence
against the United States.” Id. The government
moved to dismiss, Dkt. 13, asserting that it was immune from
suit under the discretionary function exception to the
FTCA's waiver of sovereign immunity, id. at
12-16. The Court, however, denied that motion as premature
and afforded Plaintiff an opportunity to conduct limited
jurisdictional discovery. Woodruff, 2017 WL 4286190,
at *3-4. Meanwhile, Plaintiff has moved for leave to amend
his complaint, Dkt. 23. Because the proposed amendment would
be futile, the Court will DENY the motion.
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court must
“freely” grant leave to amend “when justice
so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). But this
“does not mean that a motion for leave to amend must be
granted as a matter of course.” Hedgeye Risk Mgmt.,
LLC v. Heldman, 271 F.Supp.3d 181 (D.D.C. 2017).
Instead, the Court must consider whether “any apparent
or declared reason-such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory
motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure
deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue
prejudice to the opposing party . . . [or] futility of
amendment”-counsels against allowing the proposed
amendment. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).
Here, the United States contends that Plaintiff's
proposed amendment would not survive a motion to dismiss.
to Plaintiff, the amended complaint would add the “3 to
5” as yet unnamed “[c]orrectional
[o]fficers” who, during the attack, were assigned to
“the [recreation] yard compound [or] perimeter
vehicles.” Dkt. 23 at 1. He intends to seek damages
from these individuals, and, accordingly, the amended
complaint would name them as defendants in their individual
capacities. See Dkt. 23-1 at 1. The proposed amended
complaint asserts claims under (1) 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2)
28 U.S.C. § 1331; and (3) Bivens v. Six Unknown
Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971).
party asserting jurisdiction, Plaintiff bears the burden of
“mak[ing] a prima facie showing of the
pertinent jurisdictional facts.” First Chi.
Int'l v. United Exch. Co., 836 F.2d 1375, 1378 (D.C.
Cir. 1988). “A court may dismiss the complaint if it
fails facially to plead facts sufficient to establish that
the Court has jurisdiction, but ‘where necessary, the
[C]ourt may [also] consider the complaint supplemented by
undisputed facts evidenced in the record, or the complaint
supplemented by undisputed facts plus the [C]ourt's
resolution of disputed facts.'” Achagzai v.
Broad. Bd. of Governors, 170 F.Supp.3d 164, 173 (D.D.C
2016) (quoting Herbert v. Nat'l Acad. of Scis.,
974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C. Cir. 1992)).
United States argues that because the alleged acts that
Plaintiff “attributes to the [officers] occurred in
West Virginia and allegedly caused injury . . . in West
Virginia, ” this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over
those individuals. In support of this contention, the
government has submitted a declaration from Kimberly Knipe,
an attorney advisor in the Office of General Counsel within
the Bureau of Prisons. According to the Knipe Declaration,
“three Recreation Specialists and two Perimeter Patrol
Officers” were “on duty . . . during the time
frame alleged in [Plaintiff's] [c]omplaint.” Dkt.
27-2 at 2 (Knipe Decl. ¶ 4). Knipe further avers that
all five officers “still work at FCI Gilmer” and
“reside in the state of West Virginia.”
Id. (Knipe Decl. ¶ 4).
none of the officers are residents of the District of
Columbia, Plaintiff must show that they may be sued under the
D.C. long-arm statute. As relevant here, that law allows the
Court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident
“as to a claim” arising from that person's
(1) transacting any business in the District of Columbia;
(2) contracting to supply services in the District of
(3) causing tortious injury in the District of Columbia by an
act or omission in the District of Columbia; [or]
(4) causing tortious injury in the District of Columbia by an
act or omission outside the District of Columbia if he
regularly does or solicits business, engages in any other
persistent course of conduct, or derives substantial revenue
from goods used or consumed, or services rendered, in the
District of Columbia . . . .
D.C. Code § 13-423. Where, as here, a party seeks to
recover “for a tortious act or omission that occurred
in another jurisdiction, ” that party must allege and
ultimately demonstrate “(1) that the allegedly wrongful
act or omission caused a ‘tortious injury in the
District of Columbia' and (2) that the defendant has
established significant ties to the District of Columbia by,
for example, engaging in some ‘persistent course of
conduct' in the jurisdiction.” Arora v.
Buckhead Family Dentistry, Inc., 263 F.Supp.3d 121, 126
(D.D.C. 2017) (quoting Forras v. Rauf, 812 F.3d
1102, 1107-08 (D.C. Cir. 2016)). Although it is “far
from clear” that any of the officers have established
ties with the District of Columbia, the Court need not reach
that question because Plaintiff “founder[s] at the
first step-he has failed to allege, or otherwise to identify,
any ‘tortious injury' that he sustained in the
District of Columbia.” Id. In light of this
jurisdictional defect, the Court could not entertain
Plaintiff's claims against the individual officers,
the proposed amendment would be futile. Accordingly,
Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend, Dkt. 23, is hereby