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Ynfante v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 12, 2015

IVAN YNFANTE, Plaintiff,


JAMES M. MUNLEY, District Judge.

Before the court for disposition is the defendants' motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 42). The motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.


This case arises from Plaintiff Ivan Ynfante's (hereinafter "plaintiff") interactions with Defendants United States of America, Robert Woodson III, Jason Madrigal, David Clark and John Does 1-7 (collectively "defendants").

In 2005, plaintiff, a resident alien, was living in New York City.[1] (Doc. 35, Am. Compl. (hereinafter "Am. Compl.") ¶ 1). On September 28, 2005, plaintiff was convicted of a New York State drug offense.[2] (Id. ¶¶ 16-17). As a result of his New York drug conviction, New York City Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officers detained plaintiff. (Id.) On October 3, 2005, however, the Department of Homeland Security released plaintiff, finding his detainer legally insufficient to warrant removal. (Id. ¶ 17).

Almost five years later, on August 19, 2010, plaintiff was incarcerated at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility on charges of simple assault, harassment and disorderly conduct. (Doc. 69-2, Form I-213 record of deportable alien at 4). While incarcerated in Luzerne County, Defendant Woodson, a Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (hereinafter "DHS ICE") Officer, reviewed a list of Luzerne County Correctional Facility inmates and determined that plaintiff had a prior criminal conviction subjecting him to removal under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(B)(i).[3] (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 5, 15-16).

Defendant Woodson conferred with another ICE Officer, Defendant Jason Madrigal, and together they requested a warrant to arrest plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 18). On August 23, 2010, Defendant David Clark, a DHS ICE Supervisor, issued an arrest warrant and a Notice to Appear (hereinafter "NTA"), which required plaintiff to appear before an immigration judge. (Id. ¶¶ 19-20). Upon release from the Luzerne County Correctional facility, unknown DHS ICE Officers arrested plaintiff and held him in ICE custody at the Pike County Correctional facility from August 23, 2010, to March 28, 2011. (Id. ¶¶ 21, 24).

In November 2010, while at the Pike County Correctional Facility (hereinafter "PCCF"), plaintiff suffered an injury to his right ring finger and fifth finger after an altercation with another inmate. (Am. Compl ¶ 25; Doc. 65-1, Decl. of Ivan Ynfante (hereinafter "Ynfante Decl.") ¶ 12). During the altercation, unnamed correctional officers intervened and shackled plaintiff. (Ynfante Decl. ¶ 12). Plaintiff then fell, causing serious injury to his two fingers. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 25, 35-39; Ynfante Decl. ¶ 12).

Accordingly, plaintiff filed a fourteen (14) count complaint (Doc. 1) on March 25, 2013, and an amended complaint on December 16, 2013 (Doc. 35). Plaintiff's amended complaint asserts constitutional tort causes of action pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) (hereinafter "Bivens", and intentional tort claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2671-80 (hereinafter "FTCA"). Defendants filed a motion to dismiss and/or motion for summary judgment seeking the dismissal of all claims within plaintiff's amended complaint. The parties then briefed the issues bringing the case to its present posture.


Because plaintiff brings suit to vindicate his constitutional rights and under the FTCA, the court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.").

Standard of Review

Defendants filed their motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint pursuant the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Rule 12(b)(1) provides that a court may dismiss a complaint for "lack of subject-matter jurisdiction." "Challenges to subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) may be facial' or factual.'" Turicentro v. Am. Airlines Inc., 303 F.3d 293, 300 n.4 (3d Cir. 2002). A facial attack serves to "contest the sufficiency of the pleadings, and the trial court must accept the complaint's allegations as true." Id. On the other hand, if the attack is factual, the court "accords plaintiff's allegations no presumption of truth. In a factual attack, the court must weigh the evidence relating to jurisdiction, with discretion to allow affidavits, documents, and even limited evidentiary hearings." Id.

The defendants' Rule 12(b)(1) motion is a factual attack on the court's jurisdiction, because it challenges not merely "an alleged pleading deficiency, but rather the actual failure of [plaintiff's] claims to comport with the jurisdictional prerequisites" of federal law. United States ex rel. Atkinson v. Pa. Shipbuilding Co., 473 F.3d 506, 514 (3d Cir. 2007). As such, plaintiff bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction, and unlike other familiar motions, no presumptive truthfulness attaches to the allegations in the complaint. Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977). Moreover, the court may consider evidence outside the pleadings because the court is the "ultimate finder of fact" on jurisdictional questions. S.R.P. ex rel. Abunabba v. United States, 676 F.3d 329, 343 (3d Cir. 2012).

The defendants have also filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[4] The court tests the sufficiency of the complaint's allegations when considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. All well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be viewed as true and in the light most favorable to the non-movant to determine whether, "under any reasonable reading of the pleadings, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.'" Colburn v. Upper Darby Twp., 838 F.2d 663, 665-66 (3d Cir. 1988) (quoting Estate of Bailey by Oare v. Cnty. of York, 768 F.2d 503, 506 (3d Cir. 1985)). The plaintiff must describe "enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' [each] necessary element" of the claims alleged in the complaint. Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). Moreover, the plaintiff must allege facts that "justify moving the case beyond the pleadings to the next stage of litigation." Id. at 234-35. In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint the court may also consider "matters of public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record of the case." Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & ...

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