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Hart v. Kane

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division

September 18, 2017

WILLIAM L. HART, II, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS R. KANE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DANNY C. REEVES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is pending for consideration of the defendants’ motions to dismiss the plaintiff’s Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [Record No. 8] The plaintiff has also moved for leave to file an amended complaint. [Record No. 13] For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant defendants’ motion to dismiss and deny plaintiff’s motion to file an amended complaint.

         I.

         Plaintiff William Hart, II, has been incarcerated and housed at the Federal Medical Center (“FMC”) in Lexington, Kentucky since December 2009. He filed this action on August 11, 2016. [Record No. 1, ¶ 10] Hart alleges that he was assigned to and participating in the horticultural program at FMC. [Id. at ¶¶ 11-12] He reported to the horticultural program on June 23, 2015, but asserts that he was advised by Defendant Todd Cromer that he would not to be permitted access to the tool room that day. [Id. at ¶¶ 13-14] Hart claims that he was allowed to continue in the program until August 14, 2015, when he was removed Cromer and told that it would “make no difference what paperwork [Plaintiff] might file to challenge this decision.” [Id. at ¶¶ 16-18]

         Hart contends that he had a property interest in participating in the horticultural program and that his removal, absent due process, violated his Fifth Amendment rights. [Id. at ¶¶ 22-24] He also claims that, although he attempted to remedy the situation through an administrative process, he has not received a substantial decision from the prison grievance process which violates his constitutional right to procedural due process. [Id. at ¶¶ 26-29]

         Hart also alleges that Defendants Toy and Quintana failed to adequately supervise Comer and that Toy approved his removal from the program. [Id. at ¶¶ 6-7] Similarly, Hart claims that Kane is named as a defendant based on “overall management and regulation of all federal penal and correctional institutions.” [Id. at ¶ 5]

         Hart requests entry of a declaratory judgment, holding that his constitutional rights were violated when he was removed from the horticultural program and when he did not receive a substantive decision regarding his administrative grievance. [Id. at ¶¶ 1-2] Further, he seeks a temporary and permanent injunction, reinstating him into the program. [Id. at ¶ 3] Finally, Hart demands $10,000 in compensatory damages, attorney fees and costs. [Id. at ¶¶ 5-7]

         II.

         When evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court must determine whether the subject complaint alleges “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 Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The plausibility standard is met “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Although the complaint need not contain “detailed factual allegations” to survive a motion to dismiss, “a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks and alteration omitted).

         In considering a 12(b)(6) motion, the Court is required to “accept all of plaintiff’s factual allegations as true and determine whether any set of facts consistent with the allegations would entitle the plaintiff to relief.” G.M. Eng’rs & Assoc., Inc. v. W. Bloomfield Twp., 922 F.2d 328, 330 (6th Cir. 1990) (citation omitted). However, it need not accept as true legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations if those conclusions cannot be plausibly drawn from the facts, as alleged. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (“[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.”); see also Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986) (noting that in reviewing a motion to dismiss, the district court “must take all the factual allegations in the complaint as true,” but that the court is “not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation”). Thus, Rule 12(b)(6) essentially “allows the Court to dismiss, on the basis of a dispositive issue of law, meritless cases which would otherwise waste judicial resources and result in unnecessary discovery.” Glassman, Edwards, Wade & Wyatt, P.C. v. Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, LLP, 601 F. Supp. 2d 991, 997 (W.D. Tenn. 2009).

         A. Official Capacity Claims

         In Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), the United States Supreme Court “recognized for the first time an implied private action for damages against federal officers alleged to have violated a citizen's constitutional rights.” Corr. Servs. Corp. v. Malesko, 534 U.S. 61, 66 (2001). “Such claims are the counterpart to suits under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against state officials who infringe plaintiffs’ federal constitutional or statutory rights,” Vector Research, Inc. v. Howard & Howard Attorneys P.C., 76 F.3d 692, 698 (6th Cir. 1996). Decisional law developed under § 1983 has been fully applied to Bivens suits. Butz v. Economou, 438 U.S. 478, 498-504 (1978).

         Hart has sued defendants in their individual and official capacities. However, “a Bivens claim may not be asserted against a federal officer in his official capacity.” Berger v. Pierce, 933 F.2d 393, 397 (6th Cir. 1991); see also Okoro v. Scibana, 63 F. App’x 182, 184 (6th Cir. 2003) (affirming dismissal of Bivens claim asserted by a federal prisoner against a federal official in his official capacity). Therefore, Hart has failed to state a valid claim against all defendants in their official capacity.

         B. ...


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