within this district, and the claim arose at Lewisburg Federal Prison, which is situated in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Accordingly, as an alternative holding, defendants are entitled to have the individual claims against them dismissed on the ground that venue in this district is improper.
B. Claims Against the Defendants in Their Official Capacities
McKnight has also sued the defendants in their official capacities, as Attorney General and as Director of the Bureau of Prisons, respectively. Defendants contend that the claims against them in their official capacities are barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity.
The threshold question is whether McKnight's claims under this branch of the case may properly be said to be claims against the United States. "The general rule is that a suit is against the sovereign if "the judgment sought would expend itself on the public treasury or domain, or interfere with the public administration,' .... or if the effect of the judgment would be "to restrain the Government from acting, or compel it to act.' " Dugan v. Rank, 372 U.S. 609, 620, 83 S. Ct. 999, 1006, 10 L. Ed. 2d 15 (1963). Because defendants are usually named in their official capacity as a means of challenging governmental conduct without naming the government as defendant, for purposes of sovereign immunity analysis such suits against government employees are usually regarded as the equivalent of suit against the government itself. See Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690, n.55, 98 S. Ct. 2018, 2036, n.55, 56 L. Ed. 2d 611 (1978). Here, I am persuaded that McKnight's suit is in effect one against the United States. McKnight seeks a declaration that the defendants' conduct was unconstitutional; injunctive relief prohibiting future violations of his rights; and damages. The defendants personally had no involvement with the incidents of which McKnight complains, and it is clear that if the present defendants left office, McKnight would have to continue his suit against their successors, and that he would look to the United States to satisfy any judgment entered. In short, the defendants are named in their capacity as representatives of the United States, Monell, supra, and therefore the doctrine of sovereign immunity is at issue.
It is axiomatic that the United States is subject to suit only if Congress has waived sovereign immunity by statute. United States v. Testan, 424 U.S. 392, 399, 96 S. Ct. 948, 953, 47 L. Ed. 2d 114 (1976). Notwithstanding that McKnight has a cause of action against federal officials who, acting in their individual capacities, allegedly deprived him of Eighth Amendment rights, Carlson v. Green, 446 U.S. 14, 100 S. Ct. 1468, 64 L. Ed. 2d 15 (1980), the existence of such a cause of action does not overcome the hurdle of sovereign immunity with respect to McKnight's claims against the United States itself. Jaffee v. United States, 592 F.2d 712, 717 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 441 U.S. 961, 99 S. Ct. 2406, 60 L. Ed. 2d 1066 (1979). Nor is the barrier to McKnight's suit posed by sovereign immunity lessened by the fact that in part he seeks prospective equitable relief. Although, for purposes of Eleventh Amendment immunity in suits against the states, a claimant is not barred to the extent that he seeks equitable relief as opposed to damages, Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 99 S. Ct. 1139, 59 L. Ed. 2d 358 (1979), in a suit against the United States, under the common law doctrine of sovereign immunity, "unless sovereign immunity has been waived, it bars equitable as well as legal remedies against the United States." Jaffee, supra, 592 F.2d at 717 n.10.
McKnight has not cited any statutory provisions in which the United States has waived its immunity against suits such as the instant one. McKnight may, as the government contends, only be able to overcome the obstacle of sovereign immunity by bringing suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2671, et seq.
Assuming, however, that McKnight's allegations do state a claim under the Tort Claims Act, I lack jurisdiction over them, for McKnight has failed to satisfy the jurisdictional prerequisite that he seek administrative adjustment of his claim before filing suit. 28 U.S.C. § 2672; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by Denenberg v. National Association of Flood Insurers, 520 F.2d 11 (3d Cir. 1975).
In summary, because McKnight has failed to establish that the United States has waived immunity against suit, the defendants' motion to dismiss the claims against them in their official capacities, will be granted.