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Bell v. U.S. Department of Justice

United States District Court, District of Columbia

July 8, 2019

FRANK EDWARD BELL, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          TIMOTHY J. KELLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Frank Bell, proceeding pro se, filed this action in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in October 2018, and Defendants removed it in December of that year. ECF No. 1. On April 11, 2019, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for both lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. ECF No. 4. And on that same date, the Court ordered Bell to file his response by May 6, 2019. ECF No. 5. The Court's order advised Bell that, if he failed to file a timely response, the Court would treat the motion as conceded and, if circumstances warranted, dismiss the case. To date, Bell has neither filed an opposition nor requested additional time to do so. Although Defendants' motion is unopposed, the Court declines to grant the motion as conceded. See Cohen v. Bd. of Trs. of the Univ. of D.C., 819 F.3d 476, 482-83 (D.C. Cir. 2016). Still, for the reasons explained below, Bell's complaint must be dismissed. Defendants' motion will be granted.

         I. Background

         The Court treats Defendants' unopposed representations of fact as true. See generally ECF No. 4-1 (“Defs.' Mem.”); ECF No. 6-1 (“Defs.' Ex.”). In November 2008, Bell was convicted of distribution of cocaine in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Defs.' Ex. at 3. He was sentenced to 36 months' incarceration, followed by five years of supervised release. Id. His supervised release began in July 2011. Id. at 6. In October 2013, the United States Parole Commission issued a violation warrant after Bell allegedly tested positive for illegal narcotics, refused to submit to drug testing, failed to report to his supervision officer, and did not complete a mandated drug treatment program. Id. at 12-14. But rather than revoke his supervised release, the Commission allowed Bell to complete an in-custody portion of a drug treatment program and reinstated him to supervision in March 2014, on the condition that he successfully complete the outpatient portion of the program. Id. at 15-16.

         In July 2016, the Commission issued its second violation warrant. Id. at 17-20. By that time, Bell had allegedly tested positive for illegal narcotics on 93 occasions, refused to submit to drug testing on 49 occasions, failed to report to his supervision officer, and had been convicted of petit larceny in Fairfax, Virginia. Id. Bell was sentenced to two years' imprisonment by the Fairfax County court. Id. at 22. On November 13, 2017, the Commission's warrant was executed. Id. At that time, Bell should have been transferred to a Federal Bureau of Prisons facility so that the Commission could conduct a revocation hearing within 90 days of the warrant's execution. See 28 C.F.R. 2.215(f). But he was not transferred until April 2018 and did not have a revocation hearing until August 2018. Defs.' Ex. at 21-22. The hearing examiner recommended, and the Commission ordered, that Bell serve 11 months' incarceration followed by 36 months' of supervised release, with credit for the time Bell had been incarcerated since the warrant was executed in November 2017. Id. at 28. Accordingly, Bell was released from custody and began his latest term of supervised release in October 2018. He sued Defendants less than a week later.

         The entirety of Bell's complaint alleges that:

Under the color of the law the U.S. Parole [C]ommission violated my due process rights as a U.S. Citizen. Statue [sic]; Long vs. Gaines. Under the color of the law the United States Parole Commission was suppose[d] to give me a revocation hearing by Feb[r]uary 13, 2018 in order to comply with app[l]icable laws. I didn't receive a revocation hearing until August 30, 2018.

ECF No. 1-2 (“Compl.”) ¶ 1.[1] As relief, he requests that “the Court terminate [his] supervised release [and] order the U.S. Parole Commission [to] compensate [him] $1, 500 for each day after Feb[r]uary 13, 2018 to October 12, 2018 causing [him] mental and physical anguish.” Id. ¶ 2.

         II. Legal Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), a party may move to dismiss a claim for relief on the ground that the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. To survive such a motion, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that the court has jurisdiction to hear his claims. See Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992). A court has an “independent obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even in the absence of a challenge from any party.” Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006). For this reason, factual allegations in the complaint warrant closer scrutiny in resolving a 12(b)(1) motion as opposed to a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim. Grand Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police v. Ashcroft, 185 F.Supp.2d 9, 13-14 (D.D.C. 2001).[2]

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must dismiss a claim when the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In evaluating such a motion, the Court must “treat the complaint's factual allegations as true and must grant plaintiff the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged.” Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A court need not accept as true, however, “a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation, ” nor an inference unsupported by the facts set forth in the complaint. Trudeau v. FTC, 456 F.3d 178, 193 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). Although “detailed factual allegations” are not necessary to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, [if] accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         III. Analysis

         The Court concludes that no matter how Bell's claim is construed-whether as one for habeas relief, under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 2671 et seq., or under 42 U.S.C. § 1983-it must be dismissed.

         A. ...


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