Hampton v. Comey, Civil Action No. 14-cv-1607 (ABJ)

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
PartiesJEROME HAMPTON, Plaintiff, v. JAMES B. COMEY, et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 14-cv-1607 (ABJ)
Decision Date08 February 2016

JAMES B. COMEY, et al., Defendants.

Civil Action No. 14-cv-1607 (ABJ)


February 8, 2016


Plaintiff Jerome Hampton has brought this action against nine named federal defendants and one unnamed federal defendant, asserting fourteen federal, state, and common law claims arising out of his arrest on a federal warrant in Maryland on June 19, 2007, and his subsequent imprisonment by the Federal Bureau of Prisons in West Virginia from September 2010 until July 2013.1 2d Am. Compl. [Dkt. # 29]. The named federal defendants - Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") Director James B. Comey, FBI Special Agents Timothy J. Ervin, Brian Mumford, Alyson Samuels, Tucker G. Vanderbunt, and Ryan M. Pardee, Warden of the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") facility in Morgantown, West Virginia Anne Mary Carter, Morgantown official Dr. Waters, and BOP Director Charles E. Samuels, Jr. - have moved to dismiss plaintiff's claims pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 12(b)(1), (2), (3), (4), (5), and (6). Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. # 39] ("Defs.' Mot.").

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Plaintiff's criminal conviction was ultimately overturned on legal grounds, so he is understandably chagrinned about his encounter with the criminal justice system. But because the Court finds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over several of plaintiff's common law tort claims, it lacks personal jurisdiction over several defendants, venue is improper in this District, the federal defendants were not properly served with process, many of plaintiff's claims are time-barred, and plaintiff has failed to state a plausible claim for relief against any of the federal defendants, the motion to dismiss will be granted. For many of the same reasons, the Court will also dismiss plaintiff's claims against the two unnamed Doe defendants. Thus, this matter will be dismissed in its entirety.


I. Factual Background

Plaintiff alleges that on June 19, 2007, several FBI agents and the unnamed Mary Doe defendant arrested him at his home in Maryland. 2d Am. Compl. ¶ 26. He states that he asked to see the arrest warrant, but the FBI agents and defendant Doe "refused to produce [it]." Id. ¶¶ 27-28. He claims that the FBI agents then entered his home "without producing a search warrant," and that his "minor children were removed from house [sic] in handcuffs, and placed on their knee's [sic] outside the home" by the FBI agents. Id. ¶¶ 31-33. The FBI agents then searched plaintiff's home. Id. ¶ 35. Plaintiff alleges that the agents transported him from Maryland to the District of Columbia jail without first taking him before a federal magistrate, a local judge, or a federal or state court in Maryland, or providing him with what he refers to as an "Extradition Hearing." Id. ¶¶ 36-41.

After he had been convicted at trial, see Jury Verdict Form [Dkt. # 575], United States v. Hampton, No. 07-cr-0153-TFH-JMF-14, plaintiff was committed to the custody of the Federal

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Bureau of Prisons in Morgantown, West Virginia in September 2010. 2d Am. Compl. ¶¶ 8, 44. He alleges that in July 2013, while in custody, he was treated for a nerve issue by Dr. Waters and the unnamed John Doe defendant, and "was left in pain" after being treated. Id. ¶¶ 47-50. Plaintiff was released from the custody of the Bureau of Prisons in July 2013, after his conviction was vacated by the D.C. Circuit. Id. ¶¶ 8, 56; see also United States v. Hampton, 718 F.3d 978, 984 (D.C. Cir. 2013).

Based on those events, plaintiff initiated this action on September 23, 2014. Compl. [Dkt. # 1]. He has brought a variety of claims against the federal defendants: constitutional claims for violations of his Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendment rights pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971); common law tort claims for malicious prosecution, conspiracy to abuse process, false light invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress, and false imprisonment; and a common law expungement action based upon the allegedly unlawful maintenance of records. 2d Am. Compl. ¶¶ 57-129.

II. Procedural History

On February 3, 2015, the Court consolidated this case with a related civil action, and it directed plaintiff to file a single, consolidated complaint advancing all of his claims against all defendants. Order (Feb. 3, 2015) [Dkt. # 15]. Because it did not appear that plaintiff had properly served any of the defendants with the original complaint, the Court ordered plaintiff to serve the amended consolidated complaint on all parties, and to provide adequate proof of service for each defendant. Id. After several procedural delays which are not relevant here, plaintiff filed the second amended consolidated complaint on March 30, 2015, 2d Am. Compl. [Dkt. # 29], and filed service materials for some defendants on April 6, 2015. Affs. of Service [Dkt. # 32].

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On June 17, 2015, the federal defendants filed the pending motion pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 12(b)(1), (2), (3), (4), (5), and (6). Defs.' Mot.; Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. [Dkt. # 39] ("Defs.' Mem."). Plaintiff, who is represented by counsel, opposed the motion on July 21, 2015, Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' Mot. [Dkt. # 43] ("Pl.'s Opp."), and the federal defendants filed a reply on August 24, 2015. Defs.' Reply. to Pl.'s Opp. [Dkt. # 45].


I. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Under Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. See Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992); Shekoyan v. Sibley Int'l Corp., 217 F. Supp. 2d 59, 63 (D.D.C. 2002). Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and the law presumes that "a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); see also Gen. Motors Corp. v. EPA, 363 F.3d 442, 448 (D.C. Cir. 2004) ("As a court of limited jurisdiction, we begin, and end, with an examination of our jurisdiction."). "[B]ecause subject-matter jurisdiction is 'an Art[icle] III as well as a statutory requirement . . . no action of the parties can confer subject-matter jurisdiction upon a federal court.'" Akinseye v. District of Columbia, 339 F.3d 970, 971 (D.C. Cir. 2003), quoting Ins. Corp. of Ir., Ltd. v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee, 456 U.S. 694, 702 (1982).

When considering a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, unlike when deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court "is not limited to the allegations of the complaint." Hohri v. United States, 782 F.2d 227, 241 (D.C. Cir. 1986), vacated on other grounds, 482 U.S. 64 (1987). Rather, "a court may consider such materials outside the pleadings as it deems appropriate to resolve the question [of] whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case." Scolaro v. D.C. Bd. of Elections & Ethics, 104 F. Supp. 2d 18, 22 (D.D.C. 2000), citing Herbert v. Nat'l

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Acad. of Scis., 974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C. Cir. 1992); see also Jerome Stevens Pharms., Inc. v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C. Cir. 2005).

II. Personal Jurisdiction

It is the plaintiff who bears the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over each defendant. Crane v. N.Y. Zoological Soc'y, 894 F.2d 454, 456 (D.C. Cir. 1990). In order to survive a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the "plaintiff must make a prima facie showing of the pertinent jurisdictional facts." First Chi. Int'l v. United Exch. Co., 836 F.2d 1375, 1378 (D.C. Cir. 1988). To establish that personal jurisdiction exists, the plaintiff must allege specific acts connecting the defendant with the forum. In re Papst Licensing GMBH & Co. KG Litig., 590 F. Supp. 2d 94, 97-98 (D.D.C. 2008), citing Second Amendment Found. v. U.S. Conference of Mayors, 274 F.3d 521, 524 (D.C. Cir. 2001). A plaintiff "cannot rely on conclusory allegations" to establish personal jurisdiction. Atlantigas Corp. v. Nisource, Inc., 290 F. Supp. 2d 34, 42 (D.D.C. 2003).

III. Venue

"In considering a Rule 12(b)(3) motion, the court accepts the plaintiff's well-pled factual allegations regarding venue as true, draws all reasonable inferences from those allegations in the plaintiff's favor, and resolves any factual conflicts in the plaintiff's favor." Pendleton v. Mukasey, 552 F. Supp. 2d 14, 17 (D.D.C. 2008), quoting Darby v. U.S. Dep't of Energy, 231 F. Supp. 2d 274, 276 (D.D.C. 2002). The court may consider material outside of the pleadings. Artis v. Greenspan, 223 F. Supp. 2d 149, 152 (D.D.C. 2002), citing Land v. Dollar, 330 U.S. 731, 735 n.4 (1947). "Because it is the plaintiff's obligation to institute the action in a permissible forum, the plaintiff usually bears the burden of establishing that venue is proper." Freeman v. Fallin, 254 F. Supp. 2d 52, 56 (D.D.C. 2003). "Unless there are pertinent factual disputes to resolve, a challenge

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to venue presents a pure question of law." Williams v. GEICO Corp., 792 F. Supp. 2d 58, 62 (D.D.C. 2011).

IV. Service of Process

Under Rule 12(b)(5), the plaintiff bears the burden to establish that he has properly effectuated service. Light v. Wolf, 816 F.2d 746, 751 (D.C. Cir. 1987). When the defendant challenges the sufficiency of service, the plaintiff "must demonstrate that the procedure employed satisfied the requirements of the relevant portions of Rule 4 and any other applicable provision of law." Id. (citations omitted). Service by certified mail may be insufficient if the summons and complaint are not addressed to a specific and proper party and if there is no confirmation of receipt by a person authorized to accept service. See Angelich v. MedTrust, LLC, 910 F. Supp. 2d 128, 132 (D.D.C. 2012); Wilson v. Prudential Fin., 332 F. Supp. 2d 83, 88-89 (D.D.C. 2004). If a plaintiff does not meet his burden to show proper service of process, the Court may dismiss the complaint without...

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