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Hooker v. Knightly

United States District Court, D. Maine

April 23, 2018

Samuel Hooker
v.
Dean Knightly et al.[1]

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Andrea K. Johnstone United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff, Samuel Hooker, has filed a complaint (Doc. Nos. 1, 1-1, 1-2) which is before the court for preliminary review, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(a), 1915(e)(2). Also before the court are plaintiff's motion for entry of default (Doc. No. 23) and motion for default judgment (Doc. No. 25).

         Background

         I. Facts Asserted in Complaint [2]

         Hooker is a federal prisoner presently housed at the Federal Medical Center Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts. At all times relevant to this action, Hooker was in the custody of the United States Marshals Service (“USMS”), in pretrial detention at the Cumberland County Jail (“CCJ”) in Portland, Maine. Hooker is partially paralyzed, and is confined to a wheelchair.

         On August 8 and September 25, 2012, and January 28, 2013, Hooker was transported by USMS, District of Maine (“USMS-ME”) deputies, in a USMS-ME van, from the CCJ to the federal courthouse in Portland, Maine, and from the CCJ to the airport. The USMS-ME van in which Hooker was transported on each occasion was not wheelchair-accessible.

         For each of the transports, USMS-ME deputies lifted Hooker out of his wheelchair and into the rear compartment of the USMS-ME van. Hooker's wheelchair was then placed in the van with him. During one or more of these transports: Hooker complained about not having a seatbelt and was told to hold onto his wheelchair; was placed on something metal that scraped him; was struck in the head with his wheelchair; suffered injuries to his head, neck, back, and shoulder; and experienced emotional distress.

         II. 2012 Case

         In 2012, Hooker filed a suit in state court, which defendants removed to the federal court concerning the same transports that underlie this action. Defendants removed that matter to this court. See Hooker v. Belanger et al., No. 2:12- cv-346-JNL (D. Me.) (“2012 Case”), Complaint (ECF No. 1-1), First Am. Compl. (ECF No. 20), Second Am. Compl. (ECF No. 33). Each of the defendants named here was a defendant in the 2012 Case. After the initial complaint was filed, defendants removed the matter to this court. See id., Notice of Removal (ECF No. 1). In the 2012 Case, Hooker asserted: claims under Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narc. Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), against USMS-ME supervisors and the transporting deputies involved in the same transports at issue here; a claim for damages under the Rehabilitation Act, alleging that the federal defendants failed to accommodate his disability during those transports; and claims for damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”).[3]

         In the 2012 Case, Hooker's Rehabilitation Act claims, and Bivens claims against the defendants in their supervisory capacities, were dismissed for failure to state a claim, see 2012 Case, Jan. 13, 2014 Order (ECF No. 38) (approving Dec. 18, 2013 R&R (ECF No. 36)). The court granted summary judgment on the Bivens claims asserted against the transporting deputies on the basis of qualified immunity, See Mar. 31, 2015 Order (ECF No. 94) (approving Mar. 12, 2015 R&R (ECF No. 92)). Hooker's FTCA claims were dismissed, without prejudice, as Hooker had failed to demonstrate that those claims had been administratively exhausted prior to filing the 2012 Case.

         Once judgment entered against him in the 2012 Case, Hooker filed an appeal. The First Circuit affirmed the judgment in the 2012 Case before plaintiff filed this action. See Hooker v. Belanger, No. 15-1462 (1st Cir. Feb. 26, 2016).

         III. Administrative Tort Claims

         Before filing the instant action, Hooker filed four Administrative Tort Claim actions with the USMS, each based on one of the transports from which the claims in the instant case arise, alleging that the defendants' actions were tortious. On April 25, 2017, those administrative claims were denied, and Hooker received “right to sue” letters from the USMS, advising Hooker of his right to bring suit in federal court ...


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