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Curtis v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

August 29, 2017

PAUL KEVIN CURTIS PLAINTIFF
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, JOHN DOES 1-15 DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NEAL B. BIGGERS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Presently before the court is a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim filed by Defendant United States of America. Upon due consideration of the motion, response, complaint, and applicable authority, the court is ready to rule.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         The plaintiff, Paul Kevin Curtis, was arrested on April 17, 2013, for allegedly mailing letters containing Ricin, a poisonous and lethal substance, to former President Obama, United States Senator Roger Wicker, and a local justice court judge. Six days later, on April 23, 2013, the government dismissed the charges against Curtis when it was discovered that he had been “framed” for the crimes by James Everette Dutschke.

         Curtis has initiated litigation against the United States for its alleged wrongful conduct with respect to the underlying arrest and prosecution on two prior occasions. The court dismissed the first action without prejudice for incomplete service of process. The court dismissed the second case without prejudice for failure to prosecute.

         Curtis filed the instant suit on December 13, 2016, and asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and Bivens[1] for alleged constitutional violations, and under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. §1346(b), for malicious prosecution, unlawful arrest, and false imprisonment. The United States has now moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction with respect to Curtis's FTCA claims, and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted as to his constitutional claims.

         Standard of Review

         Rule 12(b)(1) Standard

         “Motions filed under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow a party to challenge the subject matter jurisdiction of the court to hear a case.” Ramming v. U.S., 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001). The burden of proof for a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss is on the party asserting jurisdiction. Id. “Accordingly, the plaintiff constantly bears the burden of proof that jurisdiction does in fact exist.” Id. The court may properly dismiss a claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction if it determines that it lacks either the statutory or constitutional authority to adjudicate the claim. Home Builders Ass'n, Inc. v. City of Madison, Miss., 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998).

         Rule 12(b)(6) Standard

         A complaint must contain a “short and plain statement . . . showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). For a plaintiff to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim tests both the legal and factual sufficiency of a plaintiff's complaint. Id. at 679. Though motions to dismiss are “viewed with disfavor and [are] rarely granted, ” the burden rests on the plaintiff to prove that her claim should go forward. Collins v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 224 F.3d 496, 497 (5th Cir. 2000).

         Analysis

         In moving to dismiss, the United States argues that it has sovereign immunity as to Curtis's tort claims. The United States further contends that Curtis has failed to state viable constitutional claims under either §1983 or Bivens.

         Curtis's ...


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