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Abdulmutallab v. Sessions

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 6, 2019

UMAR FAROUK ABDULMUTALLAB, Plaintiff,
v.
JEFFERSON SESSIONS, Attorney General of the United States, in his official capacity, FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, JOHN DOES 1 THROUGH 20, in their official capacities, Defendants.

          RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          Kathleen M Tafoya, United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter comes before the court on Defendants' “Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint [76]” (Doc. No. 79 [Mot.], filed May 11, 2018). Plaintiff filed his response on June 8, 2018 (Doc. No. 93 [Resp.]), and Defendants filed their reply on June 28, 2018 (Doc. No. 103 [Reply]).

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         Plaintiff is an inmate housed at the United States Penitentiary-Administrative Maximum (“ADX”) in Florence, Colorado. (Doc. No. 76 [Am. Compl.], filed April 14, 2018, ¶ 4.) Plaintiff is serving four terms of life imprisonment plus 50 years for his convictions for the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction on a commercial airliner that landed in Detroit Michigan, and the attempted murder of the 289 people on board. (Id., ¶1.) ADX is the highest security prison operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”). (Id.) Before transferring Plaintiff to long-term solitary confinement at ADX, the United States government placed Plaintiff under Special Administrative Measures (“SAMs”). (Id., ¶ 7.)

         The SAMs allow Plaintiff to communicate through writing, calls, and personal visits with his immediate family, his list of authorized contacts (including his step-sisters, uncle, and stepmother), and his attorneys and related legal providers. (Mot., Ex. 4[1], ¶¶ 1.c, 2, 3.) Plaintiff is allowed to communicate and visit with consular representatives (id. ¶ 11), as well as to communicate with the U.S. courts, federal judges, U.S. Attorney's Offices, members of the U.S. Congress, the Bureau of Prisons, and federal law enforcement entities (id., ¶ 3.g). Plaintiff is permitted to communicate with non-terrorist inmates during predesignated times. (Id., ¶ 1.c.) Plaintiff is otherwise prohibited from communicating with other persons, but he may request additional approved contacts, who are evaluated “on a case-by-case basis.” (Id. at 9 n.7.) Plaintiff may access mass communications, including television, newspapers, books, and other publications so long as they do not facilitate criminal activity, harm national security, or harm the security, good order, or discipline of the institution. (Id., ¶ 8-9.) Plaintiff is not permitted to communicate with the media. (Id., ¶ 4.) The Department of Justice found that such restrictions are reasonably necessary to prevent Plaintiff from committing, soliciting, or conspiring to engage in additional criminal activity, to prevent him from receiving and acting upon critically timed messages, and to prevent him from advocating or inciting terrorist, criminal, and/or violent offenses. (Id. at 16-17.)

         Plaintiff brings this civil action with 14 claims challenging his conditions of confinement. In Claim 1, Plaintiff alleges that his transfer to the ADX in 2012 violated due process. (Compl., ¶¶ 284-88.) In Claims 2 through 5, Plaintiff alleges his SAMs violate the First and Fifth Amendments. (Id., ¶¶ 289-316.) In Claims 6, 7, 11, 12, and 13, Plaintiff alleges the BOP's actions related to his hunger strikes in 2012 and 2015 violated the First, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments, as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”). (Id., ¶¶ 317-33, 359-83.) In Claims 8, 9, and 10, Plaintiff alleges that the BOP violated RFRA by denying group prayer with other inmates, regular access to an imam, and a halal diet. (Id., ¶¶ 334-58.) In Claim 14, Plaintiff alleges that the overall conditions of his confinement constitute cruel and unusual punishment. (Id., ¶¶ 384-95.) Plaintiff seeks purely prospective declaratory and injunctive relief for the alleged violations. (Id. at 82-83.)

         Defendants move to dismiss Claims 1 through 7 and 11 through 14 of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint.[2] (Mot.)

         STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         A. Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(1) empowers a court to dismiss a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) is not a judgment on the merits of a plaintiff's case. Rather, it calls for a determination that the court lacks authority to adjudicate the matter, attacking the existence of jurisdiction rather than the allegations of the complaint. See Castaneda v. INS, 23 F.3d 1576, 1580 (10th Cir. 1994) (recognizing federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and may only exercise jurisdiction when specifically authorized to do so). The burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction is on the party asserting jurisdiction. Basso v. Utah Power & Light Co., 495 F.2d 906, 909 (10th Cir. 1974). A court lacking jurisdiction “must dismiss the cause at any stage of the proceedings in which it becomes apparent that jurisdiction is lacking.” See Basso, 495 F.2d at 909. The dismissal is without prejudice. Brereton v. Bountiful City Corp., 434 F.3d 1213, 1218 (10th Cir. 2006); see also Frederiksen v. City of Lockport, 384 F.3d 437, 438 (7th Cir. 2004) (noting that dismissals for lack of jurisdiction should be without prejudice because a dismissal with prejudice is a disposition on the merits which a court lacking jurisdiction may not render).

         A Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss “must be determined from the allegations of fact in the complaint, without regard to mere conclusionary allegations of jurisdiction.” Groundhog v. Keeler, 442 F.2d 674, 677 (10th Cir. 1971). When considering a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, however, the Court may consider matters outside the pleadings without transforming the motion into one for summary judgment. Holt v. United States, 46 F.3d 1000, 1003 (10th Cir. 1995). Where a party challenges the facts upon which subject matter jurisdiction depends, a district court may not presume the truthfulness of the complaint's “factual allegations . . . [and] has wide discretion to allow affidavits, other documents, and [may even hold] a limited evidentiary hearing to resolve disputed jurisdictional facts under Rule 12(b)(1).” Id.

         B. Failure to State a Claim upon Which Relief Can Be Granted

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that a defendant may move to dismiss a claim for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “The court's function on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is not to weigh potential evidence that the parties might present at trial, but to assess whether the plaintiff's complaint alone is legally sufficient to state a claim for which relief may be granted.” Dubbs v. Head Start, Inc., 336 F.3d 1194, 1201 (10th Cir. 2003) (quotation marks omitted).

         “A court reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint presumes all of plaintiff's factual allegations are true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir. 1991). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Plausibility, in the context of a motion to dismiss, means that the plaintiff pleaded facts which allow “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. The Iqbal evaluation requires two prongs of analysis. First, the court identifies “the allegations in the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ” that is, those allegations which are legal conclusion, bare assertions, or merely conclusory. Id. at 679-81. Second, the Court considers the factual allegations “to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.” Id. at 681. If the allegations state a plausible claim for relief, such claim survives the motion to dismiss. Id. at 679.

         Notwithstanding, the court need not accept conclusory allegations without supporting factual averments. S. Disposal, Inc., v. Texas Waste, 161 F.3d 1259, 1262 (10th Cir. 1998). “[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S at 678. Moreover, “[a] pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does the complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Id. (citation omitted). “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.'” Id. (citation omitted).

         In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court may consider documents incorporated by reference, documents referred to in the complaint that are central to the claims, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice. Tellabs, Inc, 551 U.S. at 322; Gee v. Pacheco, 627 F.3d 1178, 1186 (10th Cir. 2010). Publicly filed court records, including court transcripts, are subject to judicial notice. St. Louis Baptist Temple, Inc. v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., 605 F.2d 1169, 1172 (10th Cir. 1979); United States v. Ahidley, 486 F.3d 1184, 1192 n.5 (10th Cir. 2007); Trusdale v. Bell, 85 Fed.Appx. 691, 693 (10th Cir. 2003).

         ANALYSIS

         A. Claims 2, 3, 4, and 5 Regarding SAMs

         In Claims 2 through 5, Plaintiffs alleges that his SAMs violate his First and Fifth Amendment rights by restricting his communications and association with other persons. (Compl., ¶¶ 289-316.)

         1. Claims 2, 3, and ...


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