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Joseph Anthony Brown v. United States of America

March 14, 2012

JOSEPH ANTHONY BROWN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Seng United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF NO. 1) AMENDED COMPLAINT DUE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS

SCREENING ORDER

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff Joseph Anthony Brown, a federal prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) Although Plaintiff alleges violations under section 1983, his claims against Defendants other than the District of Colombia should be raised under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), which provides a remedy for violation of civil rights by federal actors.

Plaintiff has consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (ECF No. 6.)

Plaintiff's September 15, 2011 Complaint is now before the Court for screening.

II. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous, malicious," or that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2).

III. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

Plaintiff is in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and is incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary in Lompoc, California. Plaintiff does not allege where he was housed when his rights were violated. Plaintiff apparently wants to sue the United States of America, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the District of Columbia and the District of Columbia's Department of Corrections. He seeks to recover for unspecified deliberate indifference to mental illness caused by years in isolated confinement and Special Housing Unit ("SHU") segregation in violation of his civil rights. (Compl. P. 3, ECF No. 1.) He seeks $50,000,000 in damages. (Id.)

IV. ANALYSIS

A. Pleading Requirements Generally

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief ...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). A plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Id. Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 1949--50.

Liability under section 1983 exists where a defendant "acting under the color of state law" has deprived the plaintiff "of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States." Jensen v. Lane County, 222 F.3d 570, 574 (9th Cir. 2000).

Under Bivens, a plaintiff may sue a federal officer in his or her individual capacity for damages for violating the plaintiff's constitutional rights. See Bivens 403 U.S. at 397. To state a claim, a plaintiff must allege: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a federal actor. See Van Strum v. Lawn, 940 F.2d 406, 409 (9th Cir. 1991) (42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Bivens actions are identical save for replacement of state actor under section 1983 by federal actor under Bivens).

B. Federal Sovereign Immunity and Linkage

Under the doctrine of federal sovereign immunity, a Bivens action will not lie against the United States, agencies of the United States, or federal agents in their official capacity. See FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 484-86 (1994); Vaccaro v. Dobre, 81 F.3d 854, 857 (9th Cir. 1996); Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1110 (9th Cir. 1995). To the extent that federal officers are sued in their official capacity, such claims also are barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Gilbert v. DaCrossa, 756 F.2d 1455, 1458 (9th Cir. 1985). Although sovereign immunity does not bar damage actions against federal officials in their individual capacities, an individual may not be held liable in a Bivens action on the theory of respondeat superior. Terrell v. Brewer, 935 F.2d 1015, 1018 (9th Cir. 1991).

Plaintiff's claims against the United States and the Federal Bureau of Prisons can not proceed because these entities are immune from suit.

No individual defendant is identified or sued in this action. If Plaintiff amends, he must allege facts showing how individually named defendants caused or personally participated in causing the constitutional harm alleged in the amended complaint. Arnold v. IBM, 637 F.2d 1350, 1355 (9th Cir. 1981); see also Samuel v. Michaud, 980 F.Supp. 1381, 1396 (D.Idaho 1996) ("A person deprives another of a constitutional right, within the meaning of Bivens, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative acts, or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation complained of") (citing Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 633 (9th Cir. 1988). A defendant cannot be held liable solely on the basis of supervisory responsibility or position. Monell v. New ...


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