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Hooker v. United States

United States District Court, D. Maine

September 27, 2019

Samuel Hooker
v.
United States of America

          Samuel Hooker, pro se

          Wilbur A. Glahn III, Esq.

          James D. Concannon, Esq.

          ORDER

          Joseph N. Laplante United States District Judge

         In this case, plaintiff Samuel Hooker asserts claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) against the United States of America. Before the court is the defendant's motion to dismiss (Doc. No. 48), filed pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P 12(b)(1), seeking dismissal of Hooker's claims on the basis that this court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over this matter. The plaintiff filed an objection (Doc. No. 72), the defendant filed a reply (Doc. Nos. 75, 76) to the objection, and the plaintiff filed a surreply (Doc. No. 83).[1]

         Motion to Dismiss Standard

         “[A] party seeking to invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court must bear the burden of demonstrating the existence of such jurisdiction.” Gordo-González, 873 F.3d 32, 35 (1st Cir. 2017). When ruling on a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), the court must “‘construe the [c]omplaint liberally and treat all well-pleaded facts as true, according the plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences.'” Hajdusek v. United States, 895 F.3d 146, 148 (1st Cir. 2018) (citation omitted). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) is appropriate when the facts alleged in the complaint, taken as true, “fail to bring the case within the court's subject-matter jurisdiction.” Gordo-González, 873 F.3d 35 (1st Cir. 2017). That said, when the United States challenges claims brought under the FTCA with a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, the claim can survive “only if [the complaint] contains sufficient facts to demonstrate that the FTCA applies to the claims asserted and that none of the FTCA's manifold exceptions is apposite.” Id. at 36.

         Background

         At all times relevant to this matter, Hooker was a federal detainee housed in the Cumberland County Jail (“CCJ”) in Maine. Because Hooker is partially paralyzed, he is confined to a wheelchair. On several occasions, United States Marshals Service (“USMS”) deputies transported Hooker, either to court or to an airport, in a USMS van that was not wheelchair accessible.[2]

         At the time of the incidents giving rise to this suit, in-district prisoner movements, such as the ones at issue here, were subject to USMS Policy Directive (“PD”) 9.21(E). That directive, in pertinent part, states:

         5. Special Transportation Movements:

a. Physically, Mentally, and/or Medically Impaired Arrestees: USMS prisoner transportation procedures, including the use of restraining devices, will be followed when arresting a person believed to be impaired.
1) If special vehicles are needed to transport the impaired prisoner (i.e., to court productions, a medical appointment, or to meet JPATS), [3] an ambulance or suitably equipped vehicle will be utilized and funded from the Federal Prisoner Detention (FPD) appropriation . . . .
b. Movement of Impaired Prisoners: The following procedures apply to the transportation of physically, medically and/or mentally impaired prisoners (male, female, adult, or juvenile):
1) Obtain a written statement from the medical staff of the sending institution/facility. The statement will include:
a) The prisoner's physical and emotional state;
b) Special requirements for movement or safekeeping, such as isolation or special medication(s);
c) Recommendations concerning the use of additional restraining devices (USMS personnel will apply those restraining devices that are necessary to ensure the impaired person is transported in a safe and secure manner); and d) Requirement for an attendant(s) to assist in the transportation and safekeeping.
2) Whenever possible, impaired prisoners will not be housed, transported, or comingled with other prisoners. Every effort should be made to place the impaired prisoner in a facility that will meet the specific medical needs of the prisoner. The holding ...

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