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Hall v. United States

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

September 20, 2018

Julian Rex Hall, Plaintiff,
United States of America, Rex Blocker, Defendants.



         The plaintiff, Julian Rex Hall, a self-represented federal prisoner, filed this civil rights and federal tort action against the defendants. This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.) for a Report and Recommendation on the defendants' motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 24.) Pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), the court advised Hall of the summary judgment and dismissal procedures and the possible consequences if he failed to respond adequately to the defendants' motion. (ECF No. 27.) Hall filed a response to the defendants' motion. (ECF No. 34.) Having reviewed the record presented and the applicable law, the court finds the defendants' motion should be granted.


         Hall is a federal prisoner who filed his Complaint concerning events that occurred while he was housed in Federal Correctional Institution (“FCI”) Edgefield in South Carolina. In his Complaint, Hall alleges that in July 2016, he sustained a head injury when he got out of his bunk bed, passed out, and fell to the floor. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 5.) Hall alleges that this occurred due to his being prescribed blood pressure medications without proper monitoring. (Id. at 10-11.) Hall further alleges that, as a result of this incident, he suffers from vision loss, migraine headaches, and memory loss. (Id. at 8.) Hall seeks monetary damages. The court construed Hall's Complaint as purporting to raise a claim of deliberate indifference to medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), and a claim of medical malpractice pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 2671-2680, 1346(b). (ECF No. 11.)


         A. Applicable Standards

         Dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) examines whether the complaint fails to state facts upon which jurisdiction can be founded. It is the plaintiff's burden to prove jurisdiction, and the court is to “regard the pleadings' allegations as mere evidence on the issue, and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment.” Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991).

         To resolve a jurisdictional challenge under Rule 12(b)(1), the court may consider undisputed facts and any jurisdictional facts that it determines. The court may dismiss a case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on any of the following bases: “(1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts.” Johnson v. United States, 534 F.3d 958, 962 (8th Cir. 2008) (quoting Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 413 (5th Cir. 1981)).

         A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) examines the legal sufficiency of the facts alleged on the face of the complaint. Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.' ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A claim is facially plausible when the factual content allows the court to reasonably infer that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id. When considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). The court “may also consider documents attached to the complaint, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c), as well as those attached to the motion to dismiss, so long as they are integral to the complaint and authentic.” Philips v. Pitt Cty. Mem'l Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009) (citing Blankenship v. Manchin, 471 F.3d 523, 526 n.1 (4th Cir. 2006)).

         Also, while the federal court is charged with liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case, see, e.g., Erickson, 551 U.S. 89, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleadings to allege facts which set forth a federal claim, nor can the court assume the existence of a genuine issue of material fact where none exists. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990).

         B. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

         1. Bivens Claims

         The defendants first argue that any claims Hall raises pursuant to Bivens should be dismissed, as Hall specifically checked the box on his Complaint form indicating that he is suing the defendants only in their official capacities. (Compl., ECF No. 2-3.) In Bivens, the United States Supreme Court established a remedy for plaintiffs alleging certain constitutional violations by federal officials to obtain monetary damages in suits against federal officials in their individual capacities. Bivens v. Six Unkown Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). Based on Bivens, courts have recognized that neither federal agencies nor federal officials in their official capacities can be sued for monetary damages in a Bivens action. F.D.I.C. v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471 (1994) (holding that a Bivens action cannot lie against a federal agency); Doe v. Chao, 306 F.3d 170, 184 (4th Cir. 2002) (observing that “a Bivens action does not lie against either agencies or officials in their official capacity”); Randall v. United States, 95 F.3d 339, 345 (4th Cir. 1996) (“Any remedy under Bivens is against federal officials individually, not the federal government.”). Thus, a Bivens action is only cognizable against federal officials in their personal or individual capacities.

         In response to the defendants' motion, Hall argues that he is suing the defendants in both their individual and official capacities. (Pl.'s Resp. Opp'n Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 34 at 1.) However, Hall is silent as to the defendants' additional argument that he ...

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