Ford v. Mitchell

Decision Date10 September 2012
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 10–cv–1517 (RLW).
Citation890 F.Supp.2d 24
PartiesKevin C. FORD, Plaintiff, v. Cranston MITCHELL, et. al, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia


Charles Frederick Walker, Amanda R. Grier, Patrick H. Haggerty, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

William Mark Nebeker, U.S. Attorney's Office, Washington, DC, for Defendants.


ROBERT L. WILKINS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Kevin C. Ford (Ford) brings causes of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and, alternatively, Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 29 L.Ed.2d 619 (1971), for unlawful seizure under the Fourth Amendment (Count I), and over detention under the Fifth Amendment (Count II) against Defendants Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) officials Jane and John Does 1–2 (collectively “BOP Defendants) in their individual capacities; the United States Parole Commission (“USPC”) officials Cranston Mitchell, Isaac Fulwood, Helen A. Herman, Lori Gobble, Joann L. Kelly, and Jequan S. Jackson (collectively “USPC Defendants) in their individual capacities; and Community Supervisor Officer Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia (“CSOSA”) officials Saher Khan, Jessica Stigall, and Verna Young (collectively “CSOSA Defendants) in their individual capacities. Ford also brings claims pursuant to the Federal Torts Claims Act (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1), for negligence (Count III) against all the United States of America, and an action for negligence per se against the BOP Defendants (Count IV) in their individual capacities. Ford requests compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney's fees and costs.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' partial Motion to Dismiss Counts I, II, and III pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).1Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), 12(b)(6). The USPC and CSOSA Defendants move to dismiss Counts I and II because they are either absolutely immune from suit or protected by qualified immunity. The USPC and CSOSA Defendants contend that Plaintiff's FTCA claim in Count III should be dismissed because the intentional tort exception, 28 U.S.C. § 2680(h), bars Ford's negligence claims. For the following reasons, the USPC and CSOSA Defendants' partial Motion to Dismiss Counts I, II, and III is granted. 2


On September 25, 2001, Ford was arrested and charged in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia with distribution of heroin. Am. Compl. ¶ 27. Ford was jailed for 23 days and then released to supervisory custody pending trial on October 17, 2001. Id. After Ford failed to appear for his arraignment, a “no bond” bench warrant was issued and Ford was arrested on May 6, 2002. Id. at 28. On September 17, 2002, Ford pled guilty to attempted distribution of heroin and was sentenced to serve twelve months in prison, followed by ninety days of supervised release. Id. at 29. This sentence was suspended to all but time already served, and Ford was instead placed on supervised probation. Id. The first three months of Ford's supervised probation were to be served at a halfway house where Ford was already located. Id. On December 17, 2002, Ford was released to the community on supervised probation. Id. at 30. On May 22, 2003, a CSOSA employee submitted a probation violation report to the Superior Court alleging that Ford had violated the terms of his supervised probation. Id. at 31. Ultimately, a bench warrant was executed on July 7, 2003, and Ford was held in the custody of the District of Columbia Jail until the disposition of his probation violation charges. Id. At his disposition hearing on July 24, 2003, the court reinstated Ford's original sentence of one year in jail with credit for time served and three months of supervised release. Id. at 32. On December 17, 2003, Ford was released from imprisonment and began serving his three months of supervised release. Id. at 32.

On February 17, 2004, Defendant Helen Herman requested a warrant be issued for Ford's arrest based on allegations that he had violated the terms of his supervised release. Id. at 34, 46. The USPC issued a warrant signed by Defendant Mitchell on February 17, 2004, and Ford was arrested on July 26, 2004. Id. Ford agreed to a consent disposition with the USPC and was sentenced to a new twelve-month term of imprisonment, followed by a 48–month period of supervised release. Id.

On February 1, 2006, Defendant Jackson requested a warrant based on Ford's violation of the conditions of his supervision. Id. at 50. That warrant was executed and Ford was taken into custody on August 17, 2006. Id. at 35. Ford agreed to another consent disposition and was sentenced to a new term of twelve months in prison, followed by thirty-six months of supervised release. Id. Upon release from imprisonment on August 10, 2007, Ford began serving his thirty-six months of supervised release. Id. at 37.

On June 29, 2007, Ford filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging the calculation of his sentence and supervised release on the grounds that he did not receive credit for all the time he had served prior to his incarceration in July 2003. See Ford v. Caulfield, 652 F.Supp.2d 14 (D.D.C.2009). The court determined that Ford should have received credit for the period between his arrest on July 7, 2003 through the Superior Court's disposition on July 24, 2003. Id. at 19. The court further determined that Ford's term of imprisonment expired before he was actually released and, consequently, Ford's term of supervised release ended prior to the issuance of the February 17, 2004 arrest warrant. Id. at 20. The court granted Ford's habeas petition and released him from supervised release, concluding that “the Commission's February 17, 2004 arrest warrant was void, and that neither Ford's arrest on July 26, 2004 pursuant to the Commission's warrant nor anything that flowed from that arrest was duly authorized by law.” Id. at 22.

Ford's lawsuit alleges that several USPC and CSOSA employees, whose alleged acts led to the issuance and executionof February 17, 2004 warrant and the subsequent periods of detention and supervised release that flowed from his July 26, 2004 arrest, violated his rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Ford also raises tort claims under the FTCA against the United States by charging employees of BOP, USPC, and CSOSA with negligence. Ford seeks damages from the USPC and CSOSA Defendants in their individual capacity.

II. DISCUSSIONA. Standards of Review

The USPC and CSOSA Defendants have moved to dismiss Counts I and II of the amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). When evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court liberally construes the complaint in favor of the non-moving party and grants all reasonable inferences to the nonmovant that can be derived from the facts alleged in the complaint. Stokes v. Cross, 327 F.3d 1210, 1215 (D.C.Cir.2003).

The Defendants have moved to dismiss Count III of the amended complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1). Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute, which is not to be expanded by judicial decree.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994) (citations omitted); see also LLC v. Librarian of Cong., 394 F.3d 939, 945 (D.C.Cir.2005). On a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that the Court has jurisdiction. Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence v. Ashcroft, 339 F.Supp.2d 68, 72 (D.D.C.2004). The “nonmoving party is entitled to all reasonable inferences that can be drawn in her favor.” Artis v. Greenspan, 158 F.3d 1301, 1306 (D.C.Cir.1998) (emphasis omitted).

B. Ford Fails to State Individual Capacity Claims against CSOSA and USPC under either § 1983 or Bivens

Ford asserts claims for civil damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against all the Defendants in their individual capacities because, as Ford contends, the Defendants acted under color of D.C. law pursuant to the Revitalization Act. Alternatively, Ford asserts his constitutional claims as a Bivens action if the Court finds that the Defendants acted pursuant to federal law. Ford contends that: (1) he was deprived of his right to be free from unreasonable seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment because the Defendants' actions resulted in his arrest and imprisonment; and (2) he was deprived of his liberty interest without due process of law in violation the Fifth Amendment because he was subjected to cycles of wrongful detention and supervised release beginning on July 26, 2004.

Section 1983 provides, in pertinent part, that:

[e]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress[.]

42 U.S.C. § 1983. In order to state a claim under § 1983, Ford must show that the Defendants acted under color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48, 108 S.Ct. 2250, ...

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