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Johnson v. Liu

United States District Court, District of Columbia

April 2, 2019

KEITH D. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
JESSIE K. LIU, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          BERYL A. HOWELL, CHIEF JUDGE

         Keith Johnson, a D.C. prisoner proceeding pro se, filed this “Malicious Prosecution” action in D.C. Superior Court against the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and an Assistant United States Attorney (“AUSA”), alleging in a single paragraph that the defendants failed to disclose that his D.C. Superior Court indictment was secured through allegedly perjured grand jury witness testimony, in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and seeking “$99.5 million” in damages. See Compl. at 1, ECF No. 1-1. The government removed the action, see Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1, and filed a notice that this case is related to a previous lawsuit filed by the plaintiff against the government in Johnson v. United States, Civil Action No. 18-cv-2608 (“First Action”), see Gov't's Notice of Related Case at 1, ECF No. 3. Indeed, the instant Complaint raises an identical claim to the claim in the plaintiff's First Action, except this case names as defendants the current United States Attorney and a different AUSA. See Compl.

         Pending before the Court is the government's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 6, for, inter alia, lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to exhaust administrative remedies.[1] Shortly after the government filed its motion, on February 4, 2019, the Court advised the plaintiff of his obligations under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Civil Rules of this Court to file an opposition to the government's motion by March 1, 2019. See Order at 1-2, ECF No. 7 (citing Neal v. Kelly, 963 F.2d 453, 456 (D.C. Cir. 1992), and Fox v. Strickland, 837 F.2d 507, 509 (D.C. Cir. 1988)). On March 13, 2019, after receiving the Fox/Neal Order, the plaintiff explained that he “would like to have more time to respond, ” Pl.'s Letter Seeking Extension of Time (Mar. 13, 2019), ECF No. 10, which request for an extension of time was granted until March 21, 2019, Min. Order (Mar. 13, 2019) (granting extension of time).[2] The plaintiff, however, never subsequently filed a response. The government's motion is thus ripe for resolution.

         Pursuant to the Westfall Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2679(d), the plaintiff's malicious prosecution tort claim is treated as against the United States because the government certified that the plaintiff's Complaint concerns actions by government officials who “were acting within the scope of their employment as employees of the United States at the time of the alleged incident, ” see Gov't's Mot. Dismiss, Ex. C, Certification at 1, ECF No. 6-4; see also Wasserman v. Rodacker, 557 F.3d 635, 638-39 (D.C. Cir. 2009). This action, in turn, is dismissed, for the same reasons for which the First Action is dismissed. See Johnson v. United States, 18-cv-2608-BAH, Mem. Op. & Order (Apr. 2, 2019), ECF No. 21.

         Specifically, the plaintiff's claim arises under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), since he seeks to hold the United States liable in tort. See Wuterich v. Murtha, 562 F.3d 375, 380 (D.C. Cir. 2009).[3] The FTCA, however, does not waive the government's sovereign immunity for malicious prosecution claims against federal prosecutors. See Moore v. United States, 213 F.3d 705, 710 (D.C. Cir. 2000); Hobley v. United States, No. 07-cv-253 (JDB), 2007 WL 1821157, at *3 (D.D.C. June 25, 2007). As a result, the plaintiff's claim is barred. In the alternative, jurisdiction is lacking because the plaintiff never filed an administrative tort claim with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, and therefore failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. See Gov't's Mot. Dismiss, Ex. B, Decl. of Daniel F. Van Horn, Chief, Civil Division, USAO D.C., ECF No. 6-3; see also McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993); Mallory v. U.S. Dep't of Housing & Urban Devel., No. 13-cv-0367 (CKK), 2014 WL 775258, at *1 (D.D.C. Feb. 26, 2014). Accordingly, the plaintiff's claim shall be dismissed.

         Upon consideration of the government's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 6, the memoranda, exhibits, and declarations submitted in support of, and opposition to, the pending motion, and the entire record herein, for the reasons set forth in in this Memorandum and Order, it is hereby

         ORDERED that the government's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 6, is GRANTED; and it is further

         ORDERED that this action is DISMISSED; and it is further

         ORDERED that the Clerk of Court is directed to close this case.

         SO ORDERED.

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Notes:

[1] Since the government's motion is resolved on the two referenced grounds, the remaining proffered bases for why the plaintiff's claim should be dismissed, including (1) the doctrine of derivative jurisdiction; (2) insufficient service; (3) failure to state a viable claim for malicious prosecution; and (4) Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), need not be addressed.

[2] Prior to the Court's Fox/Neal Order, on February 1, 2019, the plaintiff wrote a sparse, one-page letter that conclusorily states “this matter should not be removed” or “dismissed.” Pl.'s Letter at 1 (Feb. 1, 2019), ECF No. 8. This letter fails to contest the bases for the government's motion to dismiss. Additionally, the government properly removed this action because the plaintiff sued named officials for allegedly tortious acts, performed in their ...


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