United States District Court, District of Columbia
N. MCFADDEN, U.S.D.J.
Bundy and his family participated in an armed confrontation
with federal agents in Bunkerville, Nevada, in 2014. Federal
authorities later arrested and indicted Mr. Bundy based on
his involvement in the standoff. A district judge eventually
declared a mistrial in that case.
is suing five high-ranking federal officials for conduct
relating to the armed confrontation and ensuing criminal
proceeding. For the reasons that follow, the Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss will be granted, and the Complaint will be
must at this stage, the Court sets out the facts in the light
most favorable to Mr. Bundy. Jerome Stevens Pharm., Inc.
v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C. Cir. 2005). According
to the Complaint, state and federal officers
“invaded” the Bundy Ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada,
“under the guise of collecting grazing fees, an alleged
and unverified debt.” Compl., ECF No. 1 at 4. Carrying
a “side-arm, ” Mr. Bundy participated in the
ensuing standoff between these officers and his
“supporters.” Id. According to the
Complaint, Mr. Bundy and his confederates did not harm or
threaten any state or federal officers. Id.
a federal grand jury later indicted Mr. Bundy on charges
related to the standoff. Id. The district court
eventually declared a mistrial based on prosecutorial
misconduct. Id. at 13.
Bundy now sues former Attorneys General Jefferson Sessions,
Eric Holder, and Loretta Lynch; former Federal Bureau of
Investigation Director James Comey; and former Director of
the Bureau of Land Management Neil Kornze (collectively
“Senior Officials”), for their alleged parts in
the standoff and ensuing prosecution. Mr. Bundy brings six
claims: (1) unconstitutional search and seizure claim against
Directors Comey and Kornze under Bivens v. Six Unknown
Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403
U.S. 388 (1971); (2) unconstitutional retaliation claim
against the Senior Officials under Bivens; (3)
violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act
(“RFRA”) claim against the Senior Officials; (4)
unconstitutional use of force claim against Directors Comey
and Kornze under 28 U.S.C. § 1983; (5) unconstitutional
retaliation claim against the Senior Officials under Section
1983; and (6) unconstitutional malicious prosecution claim
against the Senior Officials under Section 1983. See
generally Compl. at 13-20.
survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain sufficient
factual allegations that, if true, “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Plausibility
requires that a complaint raise “more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Pleading facts that are “merely consistent with”
a defendant's liability “stops short of the line
between possibility and plausibility.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 545-46. Thus, a court does not
accept the truth of legal conclusions or “[t]hreadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
must construe a complaint in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff and accept as true all reasonable factual
inferences drawn from well-pleaded allegations. See In re
United Mine Workers of Am. Emp. Benefit Plans Litig.,
854 F.Supp. 914, 915 (D.D.C. 1994).
Bundy's many claims fail for many reasons. The Senior
Officials first argue that Counts One and Four-based on
conduct during the standoff-are barred by the statute of
limitations. Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss (“Defs.'
Mem.”), ECF No. 10 at 5. The Court agrees.
both Section 1983 and Bivens actions, federal courts
look to local law to determine the applicable statute of
limitations. See Jones v. Kirchner, 835 F.3d 74, 80
(D.C. Cir. 2016). When plaintiffs bring these actions in this
District, federal courts apply D.C.'s three-year statute
of limitations for personal injury actions. See Id.
(applying D.C. statute of limitations in a Section 1983
action brought here); Doe v. U.S. Dep't of
Justice, 753 F.2d 1092, 1114 (D.C. Cir. 1985) (applying
D.C. statute of limitations in a Bivens action
Senior Officials argue that Mr. Bundy had three years from
April 2014 to bring his claims arising out of the alleged
standoff. Defs.' Mem. at 8. But he did not file his
Complaint until October 31, 2018. See Compl. In his
one-paragraph response, Mr. Bundy does not challenge the
applicability of the three-year statute of limitations.
See Pl.'s Opp. to Mot. to Dismiss
(“Pl.'s Mem.”) at 6-7. Rather, he argues that
the limitations period should be tolled because he was
incarcerated from about January 2016 until January 2018.
Pl.'s Mem. at 6.
issue is governed by D.C. Code § 12-302(a)(3), which
provides that when a person is imprisoned “at the time
the right of action accrues, ” then he “may bring
action within the time limit after the disability is
removed.” But to toll the limitations period, a
plaintiff's action must accrue during his
imprisonment. D.C. Code § 12-302(a)(3). Mr. Bundy does
not claim that he was imprisoned when his unlawful search and
seizure and excessive force claims accrued. So D.C. Code
§ 12-302(a)(3) does not save these claims.
Mr. Bundy argues that the Court should apply the doctrine of
equitable tolling. Pl.'s Mem. at 6. But generally,
“District of Columbia law does not recognize an
equitable tolling exception to the statute of
limitations.” Johnson v. Marcheta Inv'rs Ltd.
P'ship, 711 A.2d 109, 112 (D.C. 1998). As the D.C.
Court of Appeals has explained, “[r]ejection of the
application of equitable tolling on a case-by-case basis . .
. rests on the belief that where the legislature has provided
no savings statute, courts would exceed their prescribed role
by providing a remedy where the legislature ...