United States District Court, D. Arizona
G. Campbell, United States District Judge.
and Defendants have filed cross motions for summary judgment.
Defendants claim that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction
over Defendants Watts and Johnson and that all Defendants are
entitled to qualified immunity. Doc. 54. Defendants also
argue that Plaintiffs complaint does not plead anything
beyond ordinary negligence, which they assert is not
actionable under Bivens. Id. at 3. Plaintiff does
not challenge the statement of facts set out by Defendants,
but argues that he is entitled to summary judgment even in
light of those facts. Doc. 59. The motions are fully briefed
and no party requests oral argument. The Court will grant
summary judgment in favor of Defendants Chavez, Johnson, and
Watts, and deny summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff and
October 24, 1990, Plaintiff David Rhodes received early
release from an 11-year sentence imposed in the U.S. District
Court for the District of Nevada. Doc. 55, ¶ 7. He had
1, 681 days remaining on his sentence. Id. On July
30, 1991, the United States Parole Commission
("USPC") issued a warrant for Plaintiffs arrest
based on violation of his early release terms due to newly
filed federal drug charges. Id., ¶ 8. Plaintiff
was arrested by the U.S. Marshals on the USPC warrant on
September 25, 1991, although the U.S. Marshals actually
executed the warrant on October 2, 1991. Id.,
¶ 9. On October 31, 1991, the USPC issued a Notice of
Action stating that Plaintiff was released from custody on
the warrant and placed on detainer pending disposition of the
new drug charges. Id., ¶ 10. Almost two years
later, on August 13, 1993, Plaintiff was found guilty on the
drug charges after a jury trial and sentenced to 20 years.
The trial and sentencing occurred in the U.S. District Court
for the District of Wyoming. Id., ¶ 11.
Following his conviction and sentence, the Bureau of Prisons
("BOP") granted Plaintiff credit on the drug
sentence for time served since his September 25, 1991 arrest,
resulting in a projected release date of February 25, 2009.
Id., ¶¶ 12, 16.
his parole violation was still pending and had not been
resolved, Plaintiff filed a habeas petition in the U.S.
District Court for the District of Colorado. On March 28,
1994, Magistrate Judge Richard M. Borchers found that
Plaintiffs September 25, 1991 arrest was solely the result of
the USPC's warrant, and ordered the USPC to hold a
revocation hearing within 60 days. Doc. 34-1 at 47, 49. He
also recommended that the USPC give Plaintiff credit for
every day served since his arrest if his parole was revoked.
USPC held the revocation hearing on June 23, 1994, revoked
Plaintiffs parole, and required him to complete the remaining
1, 681 days of his 11-year sentence. Doc. 55, ¶ 14. On
May 2, 1996, the USPC issued a Notice of Action stating that
Plaintiff would receive credit for time served from the date
of his original arrest on September 25, 1991. Id.,
¶ 15. BOP completed a new sentence computation,
commencing the release violator term on October 2, 1991 - the
day the U.S Marshals executed the warrant - and granting
Plaintiff credit for time served since his arrest.
Id., ¶ 16. At the same time, BOP removed the
credit for time served from the 20-year drug sentence.
Id. As a result, Plaintiffs release date for the
drug offense was changed to March 2, 2011. Id.
Plaintiff learned of this change several years later, he
pursued administrative remedies within BOP, seeking to
reapply the time-served credit to the 20-year drug sentence.
Id., ¶¶ 25-26. Plaintiff alleged that his
sentence computation was incorrect and should be recalculated
because the credit for time served was improperly removed
from his 20-year sentence and applied to his sentence for
violating parole. Doc. 34-1 at 92.
Chavez was the warden of the federal facility in Phoenix,
Arizona, where Plaintiff was housed when he pursued
administrative remedies. Chavez was not involved in the
sentence calculation that resulted in Plaintiffs time-served
credit being transferred from his 20-year sentence, nor did
he supervise that effort. Chavez had no authority to change
the sentence calculation. Chavez's only involvement was
to sign a response to Plaintiffs appeal of his administrative
complaint - a response prepared by Hoffman. The response was
issued on July 21, 2009, some 13 years after Plaintiffs
time-served credit had been transferred. It denied Plaintiffs
appeal and stated that his sentence calculation was correct.
Docs. 1, ¶ 37; 55, ¶¶ 20-22, 25.
Joel Hoffman served as a Supervisory Correctional Systems
Specialist at the BOP in Phoenix. In 2009, Hoffman was tasked
with responding to prisoners' administrative filings
regarding sentence computations. Although the computations
were made at the BOP Designations and Sentence Computation
Center ("DSCC") in Grand Prairie, Texas, Hoffman
was tasked with drafting a response to Plaintiffs request for
administrative remedies regarding the accuracy of his
computation. Doc. 55, ¶ 3.
Watts served as the BOP National Inmate Appeals Coordinator
in Washington, D.C. As part of his duties, he signed all
responses to inmate administrative remedy requests filed at
the national level. Watts was not personally involved in
preparing or auditing sentence computations. Other staff
members reviewed sentence computations and drafted responses
for Watts to sign. Watts signed a response denying the appeal
of one of Plaintiff s administrative complaints. Docs. 1,
¶ 39; 55, ¶¶ 4, 23.
Johnson served as a Correctional Program Specialist at the
BOP office in Grand Prairie, Texas. After Plaintiff had
exhausted his administrative remedies, he filed a habeas
petition on July 23, 2009. In response to this court action,
Johnson was assigned to audit Plaintiffs sentence. Johnson
determined that the sentence computation was correct and
signed a declaration to that effect that was filed in the
habeas action. Johnson was not involved in the original
decision to transfer Plaintiffs time-served credit from his
20-year sentence to his parole violation sentence. Docs. 1,
¶ 40; 55, ¶¶ 5, 24.
sues each of these defendants as individuals, seeking to
recover $1, 131, 000 from them personally. Doc. 1 at 15-16.
Although Plaintiff also has alleged an official capacity
claim against Defendants, that claim is not available in a
Bivens action, as explained below.
seeking summary judgment "bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the
record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Summary judgment is
appropriate if the evidence, viewed in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, shows "that there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). Summary judgment is also appropriate against a party
who "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.
Leave to Amend.
to amend should be granted freely "when justice so
requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Plaintiff filed his
motion to amend on August 25, 2016, some six days after the
Court's deadline for amending pleadings. See
Doc. 52. Defendants correctly note that extensions of a case
management deadline may be granted only for good cause. In
this case, however, Plaintiff is proceeding pro se,
he seeks to amend his complaint only slightly to specify the
level of culpability with which Defendants allegedly acted,
this is the first time Plaintiff has sought leave to amend,
discovery has not commenced, and there is no evidence of an
improper motive. The Court will grant leave to
Plaintiffs Official Capacity Claims.
complaint can be read as suing Defendants in their official
and individual capacities. As Defendants correctly note,
however, official capacity claims may not be brought in a
Bivens action. See Vaccaro v. Dobre, 81
F.3d 854, 857 (9th Cir. 1996) ("a Bivens action
can be maintained against a defendant in his or her
individual capacity only, and not in his or her official
capacity."). The Court will grant summary judgment on
Plaintiff's official capacity claims.
Nature of Plaintiffs Claims.
addressing the parties' arguments, the Court pauses to
clarify the nature of Plaintiffs claims. Plaintiff sues
Defendant Chavez for "violating Plaintiffs Fifth Amended
right to due process." Doc. 1, ¶ 37. Plaintiff does
not assert a procedural due process claim. He argues instead
that Defendant's actions denied him
"substantive" due process. Doc. 58 at 4, 10.
Plaintiff cites no authority to suggest that he has a
substantive due process claim for his alleged injury, but
Defendants "concede that a due process violation may
occur where a defendant causes a prisoner to remain confined
past his proper release date." Doc. 54 at 8.
describes the alleged violation in these terms: Defendants
"failed to carry out their duty to review a sentence
when it is brought to their attention that a possible error
existed, and to take the necessary steps to correct the
mistaken sentence computation." Doc. 58 at 7. Plaintiff
asserts that Defendants' "failure to take proper
corrective action creates their liability, especially after
Plaintiff explained to each where and how the errors had been
made." Id. at 10.