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Robinson v. United States

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

March 6, 2018

MAURICE ROBINSON PLAINTIFF
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DAVID L. BURNING, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Maurice Robinson is a prisoner at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Manchester, Kentucky. Proceeding without a lawyer, Robinson recently filed a complaint alleging that, after he injured his ankle in July 2016, medical officials at the prison provided him with inadequate care and displayed deliberate indifference to his medical needs. (Doc. # 1). Robinson therefore brings claims against Medical Administrator Wilson, Registered Nurse Jackson, and the prison's Health Services Department pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). Robinson argues that these defendants violated his constitutional rights and notes that he is suing Wilson and Jackson in both their official and individual capacities. Robinson also claims that these defendants and the United States are liable to him under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Robinson is seeking money damages, among other remedies. This case is now before the Court on initial screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A.

         As an initial matter, although Robinson names the prison's Health Services Department as a defendant in this case, a Bivens action must be founded on the personal involvement of the named defendants. See FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 485 (1994). Thus, a plaintiff cannot pursue a Bivens claim against a federal agency or entity. See Okoro v. Scibana, 63 F. App'x 182, 184 (6th Cir. 2003). The Court will therefore dismiss Robinson's Bivens claim against the Health Services Department.

         The Court will also dismiss Robinson's Bivens claims against Wilson and Jackson in their official capacities. That is because those claims are barred by sovereign immunity. The United States as a sovereign is generally immune from suit, see United States v. Sherwood, 312 U.S. 584, 586 (1941). This immunity extends to claims against government agents acting in their official capacities. See Blakely v. United States, 276 F.3d 853, 870 (6th Cir. 2002). Although the United States can expressly waive its immunity, see Sherwood, 312 U.S. at 586, it has not done so in Bivens actions. See Nuclear Transport & Storage, Inc. v. United States, 890 F.2d 1348, 1351-52 (6th Cir. 1989). Therefore, Robinson's Bivens claims against Wilson and Jackson in their official capacities are barred.

         Finally, the Court will also dismiss Robinson's FTCA claims against Wilson, Jackson, and the Health Services Department. This is because Robinson may only assert a FTCA claim against the United States. See Allgeier v. United States, 909 F.2d 869, 871 (6th Cir. 1990).

         This leaves Robinson's Bivens claims against Wilson and Jackson in their individual capacities, and his FTCA claim against the United States. The Court has conducted an initial review of these claims and concludes that they require a response from the defendants. Because the Court previously granted Robinson pauper status, the Clerk's Office and the United States Marshals Service (USMS) will serve Wilson, Jackson, and the United States with a summons and copy of the complaint on Robinson's behalf. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(3) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d).

         Accordingly, it is ORDERED as follows:

         (1) Robinson's Bivens claim against the Health Services Department is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE;

         (2) Robinson's Bivens claims against Wilson and Jackson in their official capacities are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE;

         (3) Robinson's FTCA claims against Wilson, Jackson, and the Health Services Department are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE;

         (4) Robinson's only remaining claims are his Bivens claims against Wilson and Jackson in their individual capacities and his FTCA claim against the United States. The Deputy Clerk shall prepare four (4) “Service Packets” for service upon Medical Administrator Wilson, Registered Nurse Jackson, and the United States of America. The Service Packets shall include:

(a) a completed summons form;
(b) the Complaint (Doc. # ...

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