CHANDLER v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS et al
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell on 4/17/17. (ms)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
JOHNNY RAY CHANDLER,
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, et al., )
Civil Action No. 16-2091 (BAH)
This matter is before the Court on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss or, Alternatively, for
Summary Judgment, ECF No. 5. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant the
motion because the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing his
At all times relevant to the Complaint, the plaintiff was in the custody of the Federal
Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) and was incarcerated at the Administrative Maximum United States
Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado (“ADX Florence”). See Mem. of P. & A. in Support of Defs.’
Mot. to Dismiss or, Alternatively, for Summ. J. (“Defs.’ Mem.”), Decl. of Patrick Kissell
(“Kissell Decl.”) ¶ 2.
The plaintiff submitted three requests to a female staff member (“cop outs”), see Defs.’
Mem., Ex. 5 (requests dated May 6, 2016, May 12, 2016, and May 30, 2016), which prompted
defendant D. Bilbrey to file an incident report charging the plaintiff with a disciplinary offense,
stalking another person (Prohibited Act Code 225):
[Bilbrey] received cop outs addressed to Ms. S[.] Becker-Gallegos,
[t]he [Disciplinary Hearing Officer]. While monitoring these cop
outs [the plaintiff] authored he writes: Upon my release and return
to D.C. I respectfully request that you allow me to contact you. For
the purpose of getting acquainted on a platonic level. Second cop
out states: Ms. Becker I want you to know that you are my buddy
my pal my friend. It will be that way until the end and wherever you
go[,] I want you to know that your [sic] my buddy may pal my
friend. Third copout states: I love you with all my heart and request
that you marry me. Love Always Ray.
Defs.’ Mem., Ex. 6 (Incident Report dated June 6, 2016).
The BOP’s Administrative Remedy Program is the means by which inmates may “seek
formal review of any aspect of their confinement.” Kissell Decl. ¶ 4. It “is typically a fourtiered review process comprised of an informal resolution process and then formal requests to the
Warden, the Regional Director, and the Office of the General Counsel.” Id. The “process is not
complete until the Office of General Counsel replies, on the merits, to the inmate’s [request].”
Id. ¶ 5. The plaintiff submitted an administrative remedy request challenging the Incident Report
on or about June 27, 2016, and the Warden of ADX Florence responded on July 18, 2016.
Kissell Decl. ¶ 7. Next, the plaintiff filed an appeal with the BOP’s North Central Regional
Office which responded on August 19, 2016. Id. ¶ 8. Finally, the plaintiff filed an appeal with
the Office of General Counsel, and its response was due on November 18, 2016. Id. ¶ 9.
Although the plaintiff has “exhausted his remedies as related to complaints against the
defendants raised in the present case through the BOP’s Administrative Remedy Program[,]” id.
¶ 10, he “did not submit any administrative tort claims with the BOP related to the claims alleged
in this litigation,” id. ¶ 11.
The plaintiff filed a civil action in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on July
10, 2016. According to the plaintiff, “a cop-out is used to make a written request to a staff
member,” Compl., ECF No. 1-1 at 1, and “[a]ny type of request can be made with the form,” id.
at 2. The plaintiff appears to assert that he has been punished for having exercised his right to
freedom of speech. He claims that Bilbrey “is factually guilty of Abuse of Process,” and “has
maliciously interfered with [his] Freedom of Speech.” Id. at 2. The plaintiff demands
judgment in his favor and an award of $100,000 from the BOP and from Bilbrey, id. at 1, whom
the plaintiff sues in his individual capacity, see Pl.’s Mem. of Facts, P. & A., ECF No. 7 at 2
(page number designated by the plaintiff).
A. Federal Tort Claims Act
The defendants removed this action on October 20, 2016, and filed their motion on
January 5, 2017. Among the exhibits to their motion is a statement certifying that “Defendant
Dale Bilbrey was an employee of the Government and was acting within the scope of his
employment for the [BOP] at the time of the allegations stated in Plaintiff’s Complaint.”
Certification, ECF No. 5-3. The plaintiff’s demand for monetary damages arises from action
taken by Bilbrey within the scope of his federal employment, and the Court treats the claim as
one under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) against the United States directly. See 28
U.S.C. § 2679(b)(1), (d)(1).
“It is axiomatic that the United States may not be sued without its consent and that the
existence of consent is a prerequisite for jurisdiction.” United States v. Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206,
212 (1983). Under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, the United States is immune from suit
unless Congress expressly has waived the defense of sovereign immunity by statute. See id. The
FTCA operates as a limited waiver of sovereign immunity, rendering the United States amenable
to suit for certain, but not all, tort claims. See, e.g., Richards v. United States, 369 U.S. 1, 6
(1962). Limitations under and exceptions to the FTCA doom the plaintiff’s claims. Relevant to
this case is the exhaustion requirement:
An action shall not be instituted upon a claim against the United
States for money damages for injury or loss of property or personal
injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission
of any employee of the Government while acting within the scope
of his office or employment, unless the claimant shall have first
presented the claim to the appropriate Federal agency and his claim
shall have been finally denied by the agency in writing and sent by
certified or registered mail. The failure of an agency to make final
disposition of a claim within six months after it is filed shall, at the
option of the claimant any time thereafter, be deemed a final denial
of the claim for purposes of this section.
28 U.S.C. § 2675(a) (emphasis added). “The FTCA bars claimants from bringing suit in federal
court until they have exhausted their administrative remedies,” and a claimant’s “fail[ure] to
heed that clear statutory command” warrants dismissal of his claim. McNeil v. United States,
508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993). Here, the defendants contend, see Defs.’ Mem. at 5-7, and the
plaintiff does not dispute, see generally Pl.’s Mem. of Facts, P. & A., that the plaintiff failed to
exhaust his administrative remedies because he did not file an administrative tort claim with the
BOP, see Kissell Decl. ¶ 11.
B. Prison Litigation Reform Act
In relevant part, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) provides:
No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under
section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner
confined to any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such
administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.
42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). The PLRA’s exhaustion requirement is mandatory and “applies to all
prisoners seeking redress for prison circumstances or occurrences.” Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S.
516, 520 (2002); see Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 211 (2007). Exhaustion under the PLRA
requires proper exhaustion, meaning that a prisoner must comply with procedural rules,
including filing deadlines, as a precondition to filing a civil suit in federal court, regardless of the
relief offered through the administrative process. See Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 85 (2006);
Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 (2001). Thus, a prisoner may file a civil action concerning
conditions of confinement under federal law only after he has exhausted the prison’s
administrative remedies. See Jackson v. District of Columbia, 254 F.3d 262, 269 (D.C. Cir.
2001). Exhaustion under the PLRA is an affirmative defense, Jones, 549 U.S. at 216, which “the
defendants have the burden of pleading and proving.” Brengettcy v. Horton, 423 F.3d 674, 682
(7th Cir. 2005) (quoting Dale v. Lappin, 376 F.3d 652, 655 (7th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation
The plaintiff had not completed the administrative remedy process when he filed his
complaint in the Superior Court on July 19, 2016. By that time, he only had completed the first
step of a four-step process by filing an administrative remedy request to the Warden of ADX
Florence. Thus, the defendants have demonstrated that the plaintiff failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies under the PLRA by filing his complaint too soon, and failed to exhaust
under the FTCA by filing no administrative claim at all. 1
The defendants also move to dismiss on the ground that venue in this district is improper. See Defs.’ Mem. at 810. The plaintiff asks the Court to transfer this matter to the proper federal district. See Pl.’s Mem. of Facts, P. & A.
at 2. In light of the plaintiff’s long history of vexatious litigation, see Ibrahim v. District of Columbia, 208 F.3d
1032, 1037 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (requiring Chandler to “pay the full fare” to bring his appeal before the D.C. Circuit
because he had been barred from proceeding in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)); Chandler v. James, 783
F. Supp. 2d 33, 36 (D.D.C. 2011) (“Mr. Chandler’s legal complaints have been so numerous and so lacking in merit
that he is now barred, except in extraordinary circumstances, from filing new lawsuits while in prison without first
paying the full amount of any administrative filing fee.”), the Court is not inclined to transfer this matter to the
District of Colorado, see Mitchell v. Holliday, 202 F. Supp. 3d 116, 120 (D.D.C. 2016) (concluding that, based on
plaintiff’s “qualifying dismissals under § 1915(g) . . . the interest of justice will not be served by transferring this
case to its sister court in Colorado”).
The Court concludes that plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies under the
FTCA and the PLRA. For this reason, the Court will grant defendants’ motion in part and
dismiss this action. An Order consistent with this Memorandum Opinion is issued
DATE: April 17, 2017
Beryl A. Howell
BERYL A. HOWELL
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