Myles, Samuel v. Gupta, Ravi et al
ORDER granting defendant Christina Kannel's 70 Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff Samuel Haywood Myles's complaint is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE as to this defendant. Signed by District Judge Barbara B. Crabb on 12/2/2015. (jef),(ps)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - SAMUEL HAYWOOD MYLES
OPINION and ORDER
RAVI GUPTA, CHRISTINA KANNEL
and UNITED STATES,
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Plaintiff Samuel Haywood Myles is proceeding on claims that defendants Ravi Gupta
and Christina Kannel negligently prescribed and dispensed hypertension medicine that
caused plaintiff to faint and suffer injuries. Plaintiff contends that defendants’ conduct
supports a negligence claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act and an Eighth Amendment
claim under Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388
(1971). The United States has been substituted for defendants Kannel and Gupta as the
proper defendant with respect to plaintiff’s negligence claim under the Federal Tort Claims
Act. However, defendants Gupta and Kannel remain defendants with respect to plaintiff’s
Eighth Amendment Bivens claim.
Defendant Kannel has filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that the acts
giving rise to plaintiff’s Bivens claim against her were performed while she was acting within
the scope of her employment as a federal Public Health Service officer and that she enjoys
absolute immunity for such conduct. I agree that Kannel is entitled to absolute immunity
and will enter summary judgment in her favor.
In Hui v. Castenada, 559 U.S. 799 (2010), the Supreme Court held that 42 U.S.C.
§ 233(a) “grants absolute immunity to [United States Public Health Service] officers and
employees for actions arising out of the performance of medical or related functions within
the scope of their employment by barring all actions against them for such conduct.” Id. at
806. Under § 233(a), if a plaintiff alleges he was harmed by a federal Public Health Service
employee for any actions the employee took within the scope of his or her employment, the
plaintiff must sue only the United States and only under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Id.
at 806-07. In support of her motion, Kannel has submitted a declaration by a Federal
Bureau of Prisons officer familiar with the billet descriptions and details of all Public Health
Service officers in the Bureau of Prisons. Dkt. #73. This declaration confirms both the
relevant time period in which Kannel was an officer stationed at FCI-Oxford and the fact
that dispensing prescription medications to plaintiff was one of the responsibilities within
the scope of her employment. Hui, 559 U.S. at 811 (authorizing the use of declarations to
establish that defendant was a Public Health Service official acting with the scope of his
Plaintiff does not deny that Kannel was a Public Health Service officer acting within
the scope of her employment when she dispensed his hypertension medication. Instead, he
argues that Kannel knew or should have known that her conduct would violate his
constitutional rights. This argument appears to confuse Kannel’s right to absolute immunity
with issues related to qualified immunity.
Although Kannel’s knowledge of plaintiff’s
constitutional rights might prevent her from claiming that she is entitled to qualified
immunity, it has no bearing on whether she is entitled to absolute immunity under 42
U.S.C. § 233(a). Accordingly, Kannel is entitled to summary judgment in her favor on
plaintiff’s Bivens claim.
IT IS ORDERED that the motion for summary judgment filed by defendant Christina
Kannel, dkt. #70, is GRANTED. Plaintiff Samuel Haywood Myles’s complaint is
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE as to this defendant.
Entered this 2d day of December, 2015.
BY THE COURT:
BARBARA B. CRABB
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