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Bruce v. Federal Bureau of Prisons

United States District Court, D. Colorado

December 15, 2015




Plaintiff Antoine Bruce is in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and currently is incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado. Plaintiff initiated this action by filing pro se a Prisoner Complaint.

The Court must construe the Complaint liberally because Plaintiff is a pro se litigant. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). However, the Court should not act as a pro se litigant's advocate. See Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110.

Plaintiff, on three or more occasions, has brought an action that was dismissed on the grounds that it failed to state a claim or was frivolous. See Bruce v. Coulter, et al., No. 14-cv-00210-LTB (D. Colo. Apr. 23, 2014) (dismissed as malicious under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)) (unpublished); Bruce v. Denney, No. 14-cv-03026-SAC (D. Kan. Apr. 2, 2014) (dismissed for failure to state a claim and as legally frivolous) (unpublished); Bruce v. C. Wilson, et al., No. 13-cv-00491-WJM-CBS (D. Colo. Nov. 4, 2013) (a Fed. R. Ci. P. 12(b)(6) dismissal). In relevant part, § 1915 provides:

In no event shall a prisoner bring a civil action or appeal a judgment in a civil action or proceeding under this section if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).

Nonetheless, based on the following, the Court will direct Plaintiff to amend the Complaint in compliance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 so that the Court may determine if Defendant Davis's actions are the cause of any imminent danger of serious physical injury and a waiver of his filing restrictions under § 1915(g) is required.

The twin purposes of a complaint are to give the opposing parties fair notice of the basis for the claims against them so that they may respond and to allow the Court to conclude that the allegations, if proven, show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. See Monument Builders of Greater Kansas City, Inc. v. American Cemetery Ass'n of Kansas, 891 F.2d 1473, 1480 (10th Cir. 1989). The requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 are designed to meet these purposes. See TV Communications Network, Inc. v. ESPN, Inc., 767 F.Supp. 1062, 1069 (D. Colo. 1991), aff'd, 964 F.2d 1022 (10th Cir. 1992). Rule 8(a) provides that a complaint “must contain (1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, . . . (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and (3) a demand for the relief sought.” The philosophy of Rule 8(a) is reinforced by Rule 8(d)(1), which provides that “[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and direct.” Taken together, Rules 8(a) and (d)(1) underscore the emphasis placed on clarity and brevity by the federal pleading rules. Prolix, vague, or unintelligible pleadings violate Rule 8.

Claims must be presented clearly and concisely in a manageable format that allows a court and a defendant to know what claims are being asserted and to be able to respond to those claims. New Home Appliance Ctr., Inc., v. Thompson, 250 F.2d 881, 883 (10th Cir. 1957). For the purposes of Rule 8(a), “[i]t is sufficient, and indeed all that is permissible, if the complaint concisely states facts upon which relief can be granted upon any legally sustainable basis.” Id.

The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's Complaint finds that Plaintiff fails to provide a short and plain statement of his claims in compliance with the pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The supporting facts in the Complaint are repetitive, disjointed, and are not set forth in a short and concise statement.

In the Complaint, Plaintiff describes a chronological history of his life from when he was born until 2011, when he was transferred to ADX Florence, that is unnecessary. His claims against the Bureau of Prisons are improper, because he may not assert a Bivens claim for damages against the BOP. See Corr. Servs. Corp. v. Malesko, 534 U.S. 61, 72 (2001) (an inmate may bring a Bivens action against the offending individual officer but not against the officer's employer).

The United States cannot be sued without its consent. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. v. Jacks, 960 F.2d 911, 913 (10th Cir. 1992), and it has not waived sovereign immunity for itself or its agencies under Bivens for constitutional tort claims. See Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 483B86 (1994) (holding that a Bivens action may not be brought against the United States); see also Correctional Services Corp. v. Malesko, 534 U.S. 61, 72 (2001) (recognizing that a “prisoner may not bring a Bivens claim against the officer's employer, the United States, or the BOP").

Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Davis do not support that he currently is in imminent danger of serious physical injury. Plaintiff is required to provide “specific fact allegations of ongoing serious physical injury, or a pattern of misconduct evidencing the likelihood of imminent serious physical injury." Martin v. Shelton, 319 F.3d 1048, 1050 (8th Cir. 2003) (emphasis added). Vague or conclusory allegations of harm are insufficient. White v. Colorado, 157 F.3d 1226, 1231-32 (10th Cir. 1998). Plaintiff's claims do not contain the specific factual descriptions that would support these claims as violations of his constitutional rights that are likely to cause imminent serious physical injury.

A decision to dismiss a complaint pursuant to Rule 8 is within the trial court's sound discretion. See Atkins v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 967 F.2d 1197, 1203 (8th Cir. 1992); Gillibeau v. City of Richmond, 417 F.2d 426, 431 (9th Cir. 1969). The Court, however, will give Plaintiff an opportunity to cure the deficiencies in the ...

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