Lyttle v. United States, CASE NO. 4:11-CV-152 (CDL)

CourtU.S. District Court — Middle District of Georgia
Writing for the CourtCLAY D. LAND
PartiesMARK DANIEL LYTTLE, Plaintiff, v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date31 March 2012
Docket NumberCASE NO. 4:11-CV-152 (CDL)

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.

CASE NO. 4:11-CV-152 (CDL)


Dated: March 31, 2012


After being detained for fifty-one days by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division of the Department of Homeland Security ("ICE"), Mark Daniel Lyttle ("Lyttle"), a United States citizen with diminished mental capacity, was flown to Hidalgo, Texas, transported to the Mexican border, forced to disembark, and sent off on foot into Mexico with only three dollars in his pocket. Wearing his prison-issued jump suit from the Stewart Detention Center, a privately managed ICE facility in Georgia, and speaking no Spanish, Lyttle wandered around Central America for 125 days, sleeping in the streets, staying in shelters, and being imprisoned and abused in Mexico, Honduras, and Nicaragua because he had no identity or proof of citizenship. Ultimately, Lyttle found his way to the United States Embassy in Guatemala, where

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an Embassy employee helped him contact his family in the United States to arrange for his return home.

In his Complaint, Lyttle alleges that ICE employees detained him without probable cause and subsequently deported him unlawfully to Mexico, knowing that he was a United States citizen with a diminished mental capacity.1 Lyttle seeks damages from the responsible ICE officers in their individual capacities pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau

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of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), for violating his constitutional right to be free from unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment and his rights to due process and equal protection under the Fifth Amendment. Lyttle also asserts a claim against Hayes and several high-ranking government officials under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 28 U.S.C. § 794. He seeks injunctive relief against several high-ranking government officials in their official capacities to prevent his future detention and deportation. Finally, Lyttle claims he is entitled to money damages from the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2671 to 2680, contending that the conduct by the ICE officers amounted to false imprisonment, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.2

The individual federal defendants, David Collado, James Hayes, Charles Johnston, Brian Keys, Michael Moore, Marco Mondragon, Tracy Moten, and Raymond Simonse (collectively, "ICE Defendants"), filed a motion to dismiss the claims against them: claims 1 through 3, asserted against all ICE Defendants, and claim 4, asserted against Hayes (ECF No. 49). The ICE

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Defendants seek dismissal of Lyttle's Bivens claims for failure to state a claim based on three contentions: (1) no cause of action exists under Bivens and its progeny for the alleged conduct; (2) the alleged conduct does not establish a constitutional violation; and (3) they are entitled to qualified immunity.

Defendants Eric Holder, John Morton, Janet Napolitano, and Thomas Snow (collectively, "official capacity Defendants") and the United States filed a motion as to the claims against them, seeking to dismiss claims 4 through 7 and 9, and seeking summary judgment as to claim 8 (ECF No. 47). The official capacity Defendants seek dismissal of Lyttle's injunctive relief claims based in part on a lack of standing. And, the United States seeks dismissal of Lyttle's FTCA claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim.

For the reasons discussed in the remainder of this Order, the Court dismisses the following claims: (1) the official capacity claims against James Hayes, Eric Holder, John Morton, Janet Napolitano, and Thomas Snow;3 (2) the individual capacity Bivens equal protection claims as to all Defendants against whom they are asserted; (3) the individual capacity Bivens Fifth Amendment due process claims against Defendants Johnston, Keys,

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and Moore; and (4) the individual capacity Bivens Fourth Amendment unreasonable seizure claims against Johnston, Keys, and Moore.4 The following claims remain pending: (1) the Bivens Fifth Amendment due process claims against Defendants Collado, Moten, Mondragon, Simonse, and Hayes; (2) the Bivens Fourth Amendment unreasonable seizure claims against Defendants Collado, Moten, Mondragon, Simonse, and Hayes; (3) the Federal Tort Claims Act claims against the United States for false imprisonment, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.5


The United States and the official capacity Defendants seek dismissal of the FTCA claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and alternatively for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The individual capacity Defendants seek to have the Bivens claims dismissed for

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failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). The standards for these motions are as follows.

I. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Defendants' challenge to jurisdiction is a facial one which "require[s] the court merely to look and see if [the] plaintiff has sufficiently alleged a basis of subject matter jurisdiction[.]" Lawrence v. Dunbar, 919 F.2d 1525, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990) (per curiam) (second alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted). To survive such a challenge, "[a] complaint must contain 'enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest'" each required jurisdictional element. Rance v. D.R. Horton, Inc., 316 F. App'x 860, 862 (11th Cir. 2008) (per curiam) (quoting Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir. 2007)). "'It is sufficient if the complaint succeeds in identifying facts that are suggestive enough to render the element plausible.'" Id. (quoting Watts, 495 F.3d at 1296).

II. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

When considering a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court must accept as true all facts set forth in the plaintiff's complaint and limit its consideration to the pleadings and exhibits attached thereto. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007); Wilchombe v. TeeVee Toons, Inc., 555 F.3d 949, 959 (11th Cir. 2009). The Court can properly consider documents

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referred to in the complaint and not attached thereto without converting a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss into a summary judgment motion if the documents are central to the plaintiff's claim and the authenticity is not challenged. Speaker v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 623 F.3d 1371, 1379 (11th Cir. 2010).

"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, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). The complaint must include sufficient factual allegations "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. "[A] formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do[.]" Id. Although the complaint must contain factual allegations that "raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of" the plaintiff's claims, id. at 556, "Rule 12(b)(6) does not permit dismissal of a well-pleaded complaint simply because 'it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable,'" Watts, 495 F.3d at 1295 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).


Accepting the allegations in Lyttle's Complaint (ECF No. 1) as true and construing all reasonable inferences in his favor as required at this stage of the proceedings, Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at

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1949, the Court finds that Lyttle has alleged the following facts.6

Lyttle is a thirty-four-year-old U.S. citizen of Puerto Rican descent. He was born in North Carolina. Compl. Ex. A, Certificate of Live Birth, ECF No. 1-1. Lyttle was adopted in 1985, Compl. Ex. B., Final Judgment of Adoption, ECF No. 1-2, and raised primarily in North Carolina. Lyttle did not receive a high school education and is barely literate. He suffers from mental disabilities, including cognitive disorders, and has spent time in psychiatric hospitals. He has difficulty with conceptualization, memory, and visual processing, and he has a diminished capacity to comprehend everyday events. Lyttle has also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and takes medication to control this disorder and the seizures associated with it.

I. Lyttle's Arrest and Detention in North Carolina

In 2008, Lyttle was being treated at Cherry Hospital, a state psychiatric hospital in Goldsboro, North Carolina. During treatment, Lyttle was charged with inappropriately touching a female orderly and arrested for misdemeanor assault. Lyttle was sentenced to 100 days at Neuse Correctional Institution in North

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Carolina. Lyttle began serving his sentence on August 22, 2008, and he was housed in the mental health ward.

On September 2, 2008, North Carolina ICE agents Robert Kendall and Dashanta Faucette took Lyttle into custody from the North Carolina Department of Corrections and interrogated him without a witness present. The agents were aware of...

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