Ahern v. United States Of America
ORDER REJECTING MEMORANDUM AND RECOMMENDATION AND DENYING 40 MOTION for Summary Judgment . (Signed by Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos) Parties notified.(lcayce, 2)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
January 03, 2017
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
CORPUS CHRISTI DIVISION
JOHN D AHERN
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
David J. Bradley, Clerk
§ CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:14-CV-259
ORDER REJECTING MEMORANDUM AND RECOMMENDATION
AND DENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Pending before the Court is Defendant, United States of America’s (the
Government’s) Motion to Dismiss Complaint, or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary
Judgment (D.E. 40). On November 28, 2016, United States Magistrate Judge Jason B.
Libby issued his Memorandum and Recommendation on Defendant’s Motion for
Summary Judgment (D.E. 50), recommending that the Government’s Motion be granted,
and that Plaintiff’s complaint be dismissed. Petitioner timely filed his Objections (D.E.
54) on December 12, 2016.
Plaintiff complains that, while he was a federal detainee in the Coastal Bend
Detention Center, he did not receive adequate medical care, arising to a level of
deliberate indifference to a serious health or safety need. D.E. 1.
The Coastal Bend
Detention Center is a privately-run facility with which the federal government has
contracted to house its prisoners. The Government requested dismissal of this action on
the basis that Plaintiff had no claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act, (FTCA), 28
U.S.C. § 2674 et seq.
The Government’s motion is based on the argument that the United States
Marshals, who as part of their duties monitored the federal prisoners housed at the
Detention Center, did not have control over the day-to-day operations of the facility and
did not have the control necessary to sustain an employer/employee relationship. Thus,
the Government argues that the Detention Center was an independent contractor for
which the Government had no responsibility, citing Logue v. United States, 412 U.S. 521
(1973). The Magistrate Judge agreed.
Plaintiff’s objections are based on the central issue that he is not seeking to assign
vicarious liability for the Detention Center’s negligence to the Government. Instead, he
is complaining of the alleged facts, taken as true in a Rule 12(b)(6) context,1 that
individual United States Marshals, who are employees of the Government, had actual
knowledge that the care he was receiving fell below constitutional requirements and had
a duty to ensure his safety. The United States Supreme Court declined to rule on this
issue of individual liability of the federal employee in Logue and remanded it to the Court
of Appeals. Id. at 533. The Court of Appeals then remanded it to the District Court, at
which point the history of that case ends. Logue v. United States, 488 F.2d 1090, 1090
(5th Cir. 1974) (per curiam).
The Government did not seek dismissal based on any argument that addresses
whether the Government may delegate its constitutional duties and evade liability when
its employees are on notice of a constitutional violation. The parties have not briefed that
precise issue for the Court. For that reason, the Court SUSTAINS Plaintiff’s objection,
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).
rejects the Memorandum and Recommendation (D.E. 50), and DENIES Defendant’s
motion for summary judgment (D.E. 40).
ORDERED this 3rd day of January, 2017.
NELVA GONZALES RAMOS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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