HOOKER v. KNIGHTLY et al
REPORT AND RECOMMENDED DECISION re 1 Complaint filed by SAMUEL HOOKER Objections to R&R due by 5/7/2018 By MAGISTRATE JUDGE ANDREA K. JOHNSTONE. (sfw)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MAINE
Civil No. 17-cv-345-JNL
Dean Knightly et al. 1
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Plaintiff, Samuel Hooker, has filed a complaint (Doc. Nos.
1, 1-1, 1-2) which is before the court for preliminary review,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(a), 1915(e)(2).
Also before the
court are plaintiff’s motion for entry of default (Doc. No. 23)
and motion for default judgment (Doc. No. 25).
Facts Asserted in Complaint 2
Hooker is a federal prisoner presently housed at the
Federal Medical Center Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts.
has named the following defendants to this action,
each of whom is a United States Marshals Service, District of
Maine deputy: Dean Knightly, Jesse Belanger, Andrew LeConte,
Clairmont Forde, and Spencer Christie. Hooker listed two
“unnamed defendants” in the caption of his initial complaint
(Doc. No. 1) in this case. In a later filing (Doc. No. 15),
Hooker indicated that there was only one John Doe defendant in
this matter, and identified that individual as Andrew LeConte.
conducting this preliminary review, the court has
considered the factual assertions in the complaint (Doc. Nos. 1,
1-1, 1-2) as well as the factual assertions in Document Nos. 15,
15-3, 15-5, 16, 16-2, 24, and 26.
times relevant to this action, Hooker was in the custody of the
United States Marshals Service (“USMS”), in pretrial detention
at the Cumberland County Jail (“CCJ”) in Portland, Maine.
Hooker is partially paralyzed, and is confined to a wheelchair.
On August 8 and September 25, 2012, and January 28, 2013,
Hooker was transported by USMS, District of Maine (“USMS-ME”)
deputies, in a USMS-ME van, from the CCJ to the federal
courthouse in Portland, Maine, and from the CCJ to the airport.
The USMS-ME van in which Hooker was transported on each occasion
was not wheelchair-accessible.
For each of the transports, USMS-ME deputies lifted Hooker
out of his wheelchair and into the rear compartment of the USMSME van.
Hooker’s wheelchair was then placed in the van with
During one or more of these transports: Hooker complained
about not having a seatbelt and was told to hold onto his
wheelchair; was placed on something metal that scraped him; was
struck in the head with his wheelchair; suffered injuries to his
head, neck, back, and shoulder; and experienced emotional
In 2012, Hooker filed a suit in state court, which
defendants removed to the federal court concerning the same
transports that underlie this action.
matter to this court.
Defendants removed that
See Hooker v. Belanger et al., No. 2:122
cv-346-JNL (D. Me.) (“2012 Case”), Complaint (ECF No. 1-1),
First Am. Compl. (ECF No. 20), Second Am. Compl. (ECF No. 33).
Each of the defendants named here was a defendant in the 2012
After the initial complaint was filed, defendants removed
the matter to this court.
See id., Notice of Removal (ECF No.
In the 2012 Case, Hooker asserted: claims under Bivens v.
Six Unknown Fed. Narc. Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), against
USMS-ME supervisors and the transporting deputies involved in
the same transports at issue here; a claim for damages under the
Rehabilitation Act, alleging that the federal defendants failed
to accommodate his disability during those transports; and
claims for damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”). 3
In the 2012 Case, Hooker’s Rehabilitation Act claims, and
Bivens claims against the defendants in their supervisory
capacities, were dismissed for failure to state a claim, see
2012 Case, Jan. 13, 2014 Order (ECF No. 38) (approving Dec. 18,
2013 R&R (ECF No. 36)).
The court granted summary judgment on
the Bivens claims asserted against the transporting deputies on
the basis of qualified immunity, See Mar. 31, 2015 Order (ECF
No. 94) (approving Mar. 12, 2015 R&R (ECF No. 92)).
to filing his Second Amended Complaint in the 2012
Case, Hooker had asserted claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the
Americans with Disabilities Act. After the magistrate judge
recommended that those claims be dismissed, see 2012 Case, June
27, 2013 R&R (ECF No. 31), Hooker omitted those claims from his
second amended complaint.
FTCA claims were dismissed, without prejudice, as Hooker had
failed to demonstrate that those claims had been
administratively exhausted prior to filing the 2012 Case.
Once judgment entered against him in the 2012 Case, Hooker
filed an appeal.
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment in the
2012 Case before plaintiff filed this action.
See Hooker v.
Belanger, No. 15-1462 (1st Cir. Feb. 26, 2016).
III. Administrative Tort Claims
Before filing the instant action, Hooker filed four
Administrative Tort Claim actions with the USMS, each based on
one of the transports from which the claims in the instant case
arise, alleging that the defendants’ actions were tortious.
April 25, 2017, those administrative claims were denied, and
Hooker received “right to sue” letters from the USMS, advising
Hooker of his right to bring suit in federal court by October
See Doc. No. 1-2, at 8-11.
Hooker filed his initial
complaint in this action on September 1, 2017.
The court conducts a preliminary review of prisoner
complaints filed in forma pauperis.
§§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A.
See 28 U.S.C.
In conducting its preliminary review, the
court construes pro se complaints liberally.
See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam).
The court then
determines whether, stripped of legal conclusions, and with all
reasonable inferences construed in plaintiff’s favor, the
complaint contains “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true,
to ‘state a claim to relief.’”
See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted).
Claims may be dismissed,
if, among other things, the court lacks jurisdiction, a
defendant is immune from the relief sought, or the complaint
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A(b)(1).
Dismissing an action on the basis of an affirmative
defense, such as res judicata, is permissible if the facts
alleged in the complaint, or matters susceptible of judicial
notice, conclusively establish the elements of the affirmative
See Gray v. Evercore Restructuring LLC, 544 F.3d 320,
324 (1st Cir. 2008); Banco Santander de P.R. v. Lopez-Stubbe (In
re Colonial Mortg. Bankers Corp.), 324 F.3d 12, 16 (1st Cir.
Cf. Curry v. City of Syracuse, 316 F.3d 324, 331 (2d
Cir. 2003) (sua sponte consideration of collateral estoppel is
justified by “‘strong public policy in economizing the use of
judicial resources by avoiding relitigation’” (citation
Res Judicata/Claim Preclusion
Under the doctrine of res judicata, also known as claim
preclusion, “a final judgment on the merits precludes parties
from relitigating claims that were or could have been brought in
a prior action.”
Universal Ins. Co. v. Office of Ins. Comm’r,
755 F.3d 34, 37 (1st Cir. 2014).
For res judicata to apply, the
following three elements must be present: “‘(1) a final judgment
on the merits in an earlier proceeding, (2) sufficient
identicality between the causes of action asserted in the
earlier and later suits, and (3) sufficient identicality between
the parties in the two actions.’”
Hatch v. Trail King Indus.,
Inc., 699 F.3d 38, 45 (1st Cir. 2012) (citations omitted).
Hooker brings this action against five USMS-ME deputies,
each of whom were defendants in the 2012 Case; arising out of
the same facts as the 2012 Case; and asserting claims that were
resolved in favor of defendants in the 2012 Case.
There are no
factual allegations asserted here that were not alleged in the
pertinent pleadings in the 2012 Case.
There is sufficient
identicality between the causes of action and parties here and
in the 2012 Case to satisfy those res judicata elements.
Final Judgment on the Merits
In the 2012 Case, Hooker joined multiple claims in a single
The court’s rulings resolved all but one of those
claims on the merits; the FTCA claims were dismissed without
prejudice to plaintiff’s ability to refile those claims after he
exhausted his administrative remedies.
Where multiple claims
are joined in a prior action, a dismissal of one claim for lack
of jurisdiction does not preclude a second action on the same
claim if the jurisdictional defect is resolved, but preclusion
attaches to the remaining claims resolved on the merits.
18A Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Edward H. Cooper, Fed.
Prac. & Proc. Juris. §§ 4435, 4436 (2d ed.).
In the 2012 Case, Hooker asserted Bivens claims against the
individual transporting USMS-ME deputies, Jesse Belanger, Andrew
LeConte, Clairmont Forde, and Spencer Christie.
In that case,
the court found that those defendants were entitled to qualified
immunity as to those claims, and granted summary judgment in the
defendants’ favor on that basis.
That decision constituted a
final decision on the merits of those claims.
See Neal v.
Davis, 475 F. App’x 690, 692 (10th Cir. 2012) (dismissal based
on qualified immunity has preclusive effect on future claims).
Also in the 2012 Case, Hooker’s Bivens claims asserted
against defendant Dean Knightly, in his supervisory capacity,
were dismissed for failure to state a claim.
A dismissal for
failure to state a claim is a final decision on the merits for
res judicata purposes.
See Airframe Sys., Inc. v. Raytheon Co.,
601 F.3d 9, 14 (1st Cir. 2010).
Hooker’s appeal of that decision was unsuccessful, and
thus, final judgment on the merits was entered on the Bivens
claims in the 2012 Case.
For these reasons, Hooker is precluded
from relitigating his Bivens claims here, and the district judge
should dismiss those claims.
Rehabilitation Act Claims
In the 2012 Case, the court dismissed Hooker’s
Rehabilitation Act claims on their merits, finding that they
were not cognizable in that matter, as the Rehabilitatoin Act
does not provide for money damages, which is the only relief
Hooker had sought.
Such a dismissal is a final judgment on the
merits for the purposes of res judicata.
Hooker did not seek injunctive relief on his Rehabilitation Act
claims in the 2012 Case, he could have done so, and therefore,
those claims are barred by res judicata.
755 F.3d at 37.
See Universal Ins.,
Accordingly, the district judge should dismiss
the Rehabilitation Act claims as precluded by the judgment in
the 2012 Case.
Hooker’s claims asserted under the FTCA were dismissed from
the 2012 Case, without prejudice, as Hooker had not exhausted
his administrative remedies.
That dismissal of the FTCA claims
was not a final decision on the merits.
Hooker’s FTCA claims
for money damages, therefore, may proceed.
To the extent Hooker
has asserted claims for injunctive relief under the FTCA, such
relief is not available under that statute, and the district
judge should dismiss those claims.
Further, the United States is the only proper defendant to
an FTCA claim.
Accordingly, court construes Hooker’s FTCA
claims to have been asserted against the United States and, in
an Order issued simultaneously with this Report and
Recommendation, directs service of those claims on the United
For these reasons, the district judge should terminate
the named individual defendants from this action. 4
Hooker has filed motions in this case seeking entry of
default (Doc. No. 23) and default judgment (Doc. No. 25) against
Nothing in the record of this case, however,
suggests that service has been made on any defendant in this
an Order issued simultaneously with this Report and
Recommendation, the court directs service of the FTCA claims on
the United States.
Plaintiff’s initial complaint was filed on September 1,
2017, but contains no certification that defendants were served.
Defendants who have not been served with a summons and
complaint, and who have not waived such service, incur no
obligation to answer the complaint.
Further, in a civil action
filed by a prisoner, a defendant need not respond to the
complaint until the court completes preliminary review, under 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(a), and directs service on that defendant.
Askew v. Holder, 2013 WL 595893, at * 1 (D.D.C. Feb. 15, 2013)
The court has not yet directed that any
defendant be served with the complaint in this matter.
As no defendant has been served in this matter, and no
obligation to appear or answer the complaint has accrued to any
defendant, the entry of default or default judgment against any
defendant in this case is not warranted.
district judge should deny plaintiff’s motion for default (Doc.
No. 23) and motion for default judgment (Doc. No. 25).
For the foregoing reasons, the district judge should:
dismiss all of the claims from this action other than Hooker’s
September 21, 2017, Hooker filed a proposed summons form
(Doc. No. 16-1) dated August 23, 2017.
The court did not
issue the summons, as preliminary review was not yet complete.
FTCA claims for damages against the United States; drop Dean
Knightly, Jesse Belanger, Andrew LeConte, Clairmont Forde, and
Spencer Christie as defendants from this case; and deny
plaintiff’s motions for default (Doc. No. 23) and default
judgment (Doc. No. 25).
Any objections to this Report and
Recommendation must be filed within fourteen days of receipt of
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2).
period may be extended upon motion.
The fourteen day
Failure to file objections
within the specified time waives the right to appeal the
district court’s order.
See Santos-Santos v. Torres-Centeno,
842 F.3d 163, 168 (1st Cir. 2016).
Andrea K. Johnstone
United States Magistrate Judge
April 23, 2018
Samuel Hooker, pro se
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