559 U.S. 799 (2010), 08-1529, Hui v. Castaneda

Docket Nº:08-1529.
Citation:559 U.S. 799, 130 S.Ct. 1845, 176 L.Ed.2d 703, 78 U.S.L.W. 4367
Opinion Judge:SOTOMAYOR, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
Party Name:Esther HUI, et al., Petitioners, v. Yanira CASTANEDA, as personal representative of the Estate of Francisco Castaneda, et al.
Attorney:Elaine J. Goldenberg, Washington, DC, for petitioners. Pratik A. Shah, for United States as amicus curiae, by special leave of the Court, supporting petitioners. Conal Doyle, Oakland, CA, for respondents. David P. Sheldon, Counsel of Record, Law Offices of David P. Sheldon, PLLC, Washington, D.C....
Case Date:May 03, 2010
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 799

559 U.S. 799 (2010)

130 S.Ct. 1845, 176 L.Ed.2d 703, 78 U.S.L.W. 4367

Esther HUI, et al., Petitioners,

v.

Yanira CASTANEDA, as personal representative of the Estate of Francisco Castaneda, et al.

No. 08-1529.

United States Supreme Court

May 3, 2010

Argued March 2, 2010

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

[703 L.Ed.2d 707] [130 S.Ct. 1846] Syllabus [*]

While detained by immigration authorities, Francisco Castaneda persistently sought treatment for a bleeding, suppurating lesion. Although a U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) physician's assistant and three outside specialists repeatedly advised that Castaneda urgently needed a biopsy, petitioners-a PHS physician and a commissioned PHS officer-denied the request. After Castaneda was released from custody, tests confirmed that he had metastatic cancer. He then filed this suit, raising medical negligence claims against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. §§1346, 2671– 2680, and constitutional claims against petitioners under Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388, 397, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 29 L.Ed.2d 619. When Castaneda died, respondents, his representative and heir, were substituted as plaintiffs. The District Court denied petitioners' motion to dismiss the Bivens action, rejecting their claim of absolute immunity under 42 U.S.C. §233(a), which provides: "The [FTCA] remedy against the United States provided by [28 U.S.C. §§1346(b) and 2672] for damage for personal injury, including death, resulting from the performance of medical . . . or related functions . . . by any [PHS] commissioned officer or employee . . . while [130 S.Ct. 1847] acting within the scope of his office or employment, shall be exclusive of any other civil action or proceeding by reason of the same subject-matter against the officer or employee." (Emphasis added.) The Ninth Circuit affirmed.

Held:

The immunity provided by §233(a) precludes Bivens actions against individual PHS officers or employees for harms arising out of constitutional violations committed while acting within the scope of their office or employment. Pp. 1850 -1855, 76 L.Ed.2d, at 711-715..

(a) The Court's inquiry begins and ends with §233(a)'s text, which plainly precludes a Bivens action against petitioners by limiting recovery for harms arising from the conduct at issue to an FTCA action against the United States. The breadth of §233(a)'s words "exclusive" and "any" supports this reading, as does the provision's inclusive reference to all civil proceedings arising out of "the same subject-matter." Because the phrase "exclusive of any other civil action" is easily broad enough to accommodate both known and unknown causes of action, the

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Court's reading is not undermined by the fact that §233(a) preceded Bivens. The later enacted Westfall Act further supports this understanding of §233(a). In amending the FTCA to make its remedy against the United States exclusive for most claims against Government employees for their official conduct, the Westfall Act essentially duplicated §233(a)'s exclusivity language, 28 U.S.C. § 2679(b)(1), but provided an explicit exception for constitutional violations, §2679(b)(2). This shows that Congress did not understand the exclusivity provided by §2679(b)(1)-or the substantially similar §233(a)-to imply such an exception. Pp. 1850 -1852, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 711-712..

(b) Respondents' arguments to the contrary do not undermine the Court's conclusion. Pp. 1850 – 1855, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 712-715.

(1)Respondents' heavy reliance on Carlson v. Green, 446 U.S. 14, 100 S.Ct. 1468, 64 L.Ed.2d 15, is misplaced. Carlson is inapposite to the issue in this case- whether petitioners [703 L.Ed.2d 708] are immune from suit for the alleged violations- because the Carlson petitioners invoked no official immunity. Instead, the case considered the separate question whether a remedy was available under the Eighth Amendment for alleged violations of the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause notwithstanding that a federal remedy was also available under the FTCA. Pp. 1851 -1852, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 712-713.

(2) Contrary to respondents' contention, §233(a) does not incorporate a Bivens exception through its cross-reference to §1346(b) and that section's cross-reference to the FTCA, which includes the Westfall Act exception for constitutional claims, §2679(b)(2)(A). Because §233(a) refers only to "[t]he remedy . . . provided by sections 1346(b) and 2672" (emphasis added), only those portions of the FTCA that establish its remedy are incorporated by §233(a)'s reference to §1346. Section 2679(b) is not such a provision. Pp. 1852 -1853, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 713..

(3) Respondents' claim that the Westfall Act's Bivens exception, §2679(b)(2)(A), directly preserves a Bivens action against PHS officers and employees is belied by the fact that the provision by its terms applies only to the specific immunity set forth in "[p]aragraph (1)." Moreover, if §233(a) forecloses a Bivens action against PHS personnel, respondents' reading of §2679(b)(2)(A) would effect an implied repeal of the more specific §233(a). Repeals by implication are not favored and will not be presumed absent a clear and manifest legislative intent to repeal. Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs, 556 U.S. 163, 175, 129 S.Ct. 1436, 1444-1445, 173 L.Ed.2d 333. Nothing suggests that Congress [130 S.Ct. 1848] intended § 2679(b) to repeal §233(a)'s more comprehensive immunity. Pp. 1853 -1854, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 713.

(4) Respondents' contention that other features of §233 show that §233(a) does not make the FTCA remedy exclusive of all other actions against PHS personnel is rejected. Neither §233(c) nor §233(f) indicates that an injured party may maintain a Bivens action against

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an individual PHS officer or employee in these circumstances. Pp. 1853 -1855, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 714-715.

546 F.3d 682, reversed and remanded.

Elaine J. Goldenberg, Washington, DC, for petitioners.

Pratik A. Shah, for United States as amicus curiae, by special leave of the Court, supporting petitioners.

Conal Doyle, Oakland, CA, for respondents.

David P. Sheldon, Counsel of Record, Law Offices of David P. Sheldon, PLLC, Washington, D.C., Paul M. Smith, William M. Hohengarten, Elaine J. Goldenberg, Matthew S. Hellman, Jessica Ring Amun-son, Jenner & Block LLP, Washington, D.C., Joshua A. Block, Jenner & Block LLP, New York, NY, for petitioner Commander Stephen Gonsalves.

Patrick L. Hurley, Manning & Marder, Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez LLP, San Francisco, CA, Steven J. Renick, Counsel of Record, Mildred K. O'Linn, Timothy J. Krai, Manning & Marder, Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez LLP, Los Angeles, CA, for petitioner Esther Hui.

Conal Doyle, Willoughby Doyle, LLP, Oakland, CA, Thomas M. Dempsey, Law Offices of Thomas M. Dempsey, Beverly Hills, CA, Adele P. Kimmel, Counsel of Record, Amy Radon, Public Justice, P.C, Washington, DC, Arthur H. Bryant, Leslie

A. Brueckner, Public Justice, P.C, Oakland, CA, for respondents.

OPINION

SOTOMAYOR, J.,

This case presents the question whether 42 U.S.C. §233(a), as added, 84 Stat. 1870, 1868, precludes an action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 29 L.Ed.2d 619 (1971), against U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) personnel for constitutional violations arising out of their official duties. When federal employees are sued for damages for harms caused in the course of their employment, the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. §§1346, 2671-2680, generally authorizes substitution of the United States as the defendant.

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Section 233(a) makes the FTCA remedy against the United States "exclusive of any other civil action or proceeding" for any personal injury caused by a PHS officer or employee performing a medical or related function "while acting within the scope of his office or employment." Based on the plain language [703 L.Ed.2d 709] of §233(a), we conclude that PHS officers and employees are not personally subject to Bivens actions for harms arising out of such conduct.

I

Francisco Castaneda was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the San Diego Correctional Facility (SDCF) beginning in March 2006. According to the complaint later filed in the District Court, when Castaneda arrived [130 S.Ct. 1849] at SDCF he had on his penis an irregular, raised lesion that measured roughly two centimeters square. 1 Castaneda promptly brought his condition to the attention of medical personnel working for the Division of Immigration Health Services, reporting that the lesion was growing in size and becoming more painful and that it frequently bled and emitted a discharge. Petitioner Dr. Esther Hui, a civilian PHS employee, was the physician responsible for Castaneda's medical care during his detention at SDCF. Petitioner Commander Stephen Gonsalves, a commissioned PHS officer, was a Health Services Administrator at SDCF during the relevant period.

Between March 2006 and January 2007, Castaneda persistently sought treatment for his condition. As his disease progressed, the lesion became increasingly painful and interfered with his urination, defecation, and sleep. In December 2006, Castaneda additionally reported a lump in his groin. A PHS physician's assistant and three outside specialists

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repeatedly advised that Castaneda needed a biopsy to ascertain whether he had cancer. Petitioners denied requests for a biopsy and other recommended procedures as "elective." App. 244, 249-251. Instead, Castaneda was treated with ibuprofen and antibiotics and was given an additional ration of boxer shorts.

After a fourth specialist recommended a biopsy in January 2007, the procedure was finally authorized. Instead of providing treatment, however, ICE released Castaneda from custody on February 5. A week...

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