IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
December 2, 2009
AMOS BROWN, PLAINTIFF,
UNITED STATES PAROLE COMMISSION, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pratter, J.
Amos Brown has sued the United States Parole Commission ("the Commission") for allegedly violating his rights guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. U.S. CONST. AMEND. XIV. Mr. Brown was paroled on May 8, 2009, and he seeks $10,000 in money damages for each day subsequent to May 8 during which he was required by the Commission to reside at the Luzerne (Pennsylvania) Community Corrections Center ("the CCC").*fn1 Approximately three months after filing his Complaint in this matter (Docket No. 3), Mr. Brown filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 9).
The Commission seeks to dismiss Mr. Brown's Complaint on four grounds: (1) the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, because the Commission, which is a federal agency, has not waived sovereign immunity; (2) as a federal agency, the Commission is not a "person" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or within the reach of Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), and, therefore, it cannot be sued pursuant to either statutory or case law for violating Mr. Brown's Fourteenth Amendment rights; (3) Mr. Brown cannot recover money damages from a federal agency; and (4) Mr. Brown has failed to state a claim on which relief may be granted, because the conditions that the Commission placed on his parole were in fact reasonable.
For reasons discussed below, the Court grants the Commission's Motion to Dismiss Mr. Brown's Complaint. The Commission has not responded to Mr. Brown's Motion for Summary Judgment, but because Mr. Brown's Complaint is properly dismissed, his Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
For the purposes of this Motion to Dismiss, the facts alleged in the Second Amended Complaint are considered to be true. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45 (1957). On that basis, the facts are as follows.
Prior to May 7, 2008, Mr. Brown was a parolee. On that date, his parole was revoked, and he was incarcerated "pursuant to a 8-12 months re-parole guideline [sic]."*fn2 On May 8, 2009, Mr. Brown was once again paroled, but was then "directed [by the Commission] to report to [the CCC] for 120 days." Mr. Brown claims that by "arbitrarily" ordering him to report to the CCC at the end of his 12-month incarceration -- rather than granting him the relative liberty allegedly afforded to some other parolees -- the Commission forced Mr. Brown to "endure conditions of confinement ... which clearly contradict the constitutional liberty of a parolee" [sic]. Mr. Brown says that although on parole, he was forced to spend 21 hours per day confined in the CCC, and was also prohibited from taking a "mobile job," including any position with a temporary employer or an employer without a land telephone line.
In addition, Mr. Brown claims that due to his confinement at the CCC, he was "deprived of the opportunity to pay last respects to his biological mother, who passed away on March 23, 2009" -- and that as a result of being denied the right to attend her funeral, he currently suffers feelings of "anger, rage and hatred." In an affidavit filed with the Court (Docket No. 6), Mr. Brown asserts that a review of surveillance footage from the CCC will show Mr. Brown "often praying in the middle of the night for relief to prevent thoughts of anger and rage from turning into acts of violence" (Affidavit, pg. 3).
Mr. Brown's Complaint does not identify a statute or a theory of law to support his pursuit of damages for alleged violations of his Fourteenth Amendment rights. Because Mr. Brown is a pro selitigant, the Court construes his Complaint liberally;*fn3 and because no statute exists which empowers individuals to sue federal agencies directly for alleged constitutional violations,*fn4 the Court interprets the Complaint as presenting claims under both 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which creates a remedy to redress deprivation of a federally-protected right by a person acting under color of state law, and Bivens, which allows individuals to sue federal agents for damages for violations of certain constitutional rights.*fn5
The Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over these claims. The United States cannot be sued without its explicit consent,*fn6 and sovereign immunity cannot be waived by federal agencies, including the Commission.*fn7 In all lawsuits filed against the United States, consent is a prerequisite for subject matter jurisdiction,*fn8 and because there has been no waiver in this case, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Mr. Brown's claims.*fn9
The Commission's Motion to Dismiss is granted. Because the Court lacks jurisdiction to hear Mr. Brown's claim, Mr. Brown's Motion for Summary Judgment is denied. An appropriate Order follows.
GENE E.K. PRATTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE