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Washington v. United States

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

February 8, 2017

Burl Washington, Plaintiff,
v.
United States; Mrs. Cruz; Loranth; Massa; Meeks; Lepaine; Garcia; John Doe #2; Jude Onucha; K Bennett-Baker; P. Robinson; John Doe #3; John Doe #4; John Doe #5; Paul Laird; Paul Harvey; B. Auterson; James Cross; Mr. Baugh; Douglas Kruse; Harold Gillian; Mrs. Robinson; Mrs. W. Lirios; Mrs. Lyons; David Goldsborough; Steven Hoffimerr; Frank Fester; Margaret Hodges; John Doe #1, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Kaymani D. West Florence, United States Magistrate Judge.

         This is a civil action filed pro se by a federal prison inmate. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e) (D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized to review all pretrial matters in such pro se cases and to submit findings and recommendations to the District Court. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e); 1915A (as soon as possible after docketing, district courts should review prisoner cases to determine whether they are subject to summary dismissal).

         I. Factual Background

         Burl Washington (“Plaintiff”) is a federal prisoner, currently incarcerated at FCI-Estill in Estill, South Carolina. In the Complaint now under review, Plaintiff sues many officials and employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”), alleging medical negligence and indifference relative to vision problems that Plaintiff has been experiencing during his incarceration in several BOP prisons. Plaintiff has named the United States of America as one of his Defendants. He has also named six Defendants who, according to the information contained in his summons, reside in South Carolina: Defendants Mrs. Cruz; Loranth; Massa; Meeks; Lepaine, and Garcia. Additionally, Plaintiff names four Defendants who reside in Kentucky: John Doe #2; Jude Onucha; K. Bennett-Baker; and P. Robinson. Three Defendants who reside in Oklahoma: John Does ##3, 4, and 5. Plaintiff also names three Defendants who reside in Kansas: Paul Laird; Paul Harvey; B. Auterson; and eleven Defendants who reside in Illinois: James Cross; Mr. Baugh; Douglas Kruse; Harold Gillian; Mrs. Robinson; Mrs. W. Lirios; Mrs. Lyons; David Goldsborough; Steven Hoffimerr; Frank Fester; and Margaret Hodges. Finally, Plaintiff names one Defendant who resides in the District of Columbia: John Doe #1. He seeks damages and injunctive relief and has requested a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order seeking transfer from regular BOP prisons to a Federal Medical Center. ECF Nos. 7, 19. Plaintiff paid the full filing fee in this case.

         II. Standard of Review

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of Plaintiff's pro se Complaint filed in this case. This review has been conducted pursuant to the procedural provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, [1] and the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, and in light of the following precedents: Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Nasim v. Warden, Md. House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir. 1995); Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983); Boyce v. Alizaduh, 595 F.2d 948 (4th Cir. 1979).

         Pro se complaints are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), and a federal district court is charged with liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9-10 (1980). When a federal court is evaluating a pro se complaint, the plaintiff's allegations are assumed to be true. De'Lonta v. Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 630 n.1 (4th Cir. 2003). Nevertheless, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that this court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990). Even under this less stringent standard, however, the Complaint filed in this case is subject to partial summary dismissal under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §1915A(b)(1).

         III. Discussion

         The Complaint in this case should be partially dismissed to the extent that it contains claims against Defendants over whom this court cannot obtain personal jurisdiction because those Defendants reside outside the geographical boundaries of the court. A bedrock requirement in any civil action is that the district court in which a Complaint is brought shall have personal jurisdiction over the persons of the defendants. Rule 4(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Service Upon Individuals Within a Judicial District of the United States”) by its own title suggests that persons outside a given judicial district cannot be brought into that district court. However, the Rule allows application of so-called state “long arm” statutes:

Unless federal law provides otherwise, an individual -- other than a minor, an incompetent person, or a person whose waiver has been filed -- may be served in a judicial district of the United States by:
(1) following state law for serving a summons in an action brought in courts of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located or where service is made; or
(2) doing any of the following:
(A) delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the individual personally;
(B) leaving a copy of each at the individual's dwelling or usual place of abode with someone of suitable age and ...

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