United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
THOMAS M. BRADDY, JR., Plaintiff,
ERIC WILSON, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION (Granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss)
HENRY E. HUDSON, District Judge.
Thomas M. Braddy, Jr. ("Braddy"), a federal inmate confined in the Federal Correctional Complex in Petersburg, Virginia, filed suit in the Circuit Court for Prince George County, Virginia (the "Circuit Court") against Defendants for breach of contract. Defendant Wilson removed the case to this Court. This matter is before the Court on Defendant Wilson's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment ("Motion to Dismiss, " ECF No. 2; "Motion for Summary Judgment, " ECF No. 3); Braddy's Motion for Remand (ECF No. 6); Braddy's First Motion to Amend (ECF No. 9); and, Braddy's Second Motion to Amend (ECF No. 12). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendant Wilson's Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
I. Procedural History
On March 28, 2014, Braddy, a federal inmate proceeding pro se, filed suit against Defendants in the Circuit Court. The Complaint alleges that Defendants breached contracts "in the first instance and as a third party beneficiary." (Compl. 1.)
On August 29, 2014, Defendant Wilson filed a Notice of Removal of State Court Action to United States District Court. ("Notice of Removal, " ECF No. 1.) On September 5, 2014, Defendant Wilson filed a Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 2) and Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 3).
On September 11, 2014, Braddy filed a "Notice for Remand to State Court for Lack of Jurisdiction" ("Motion to Remand, " ECF No. 6), which the Court construes as a Motion to Remand. Defendant Wilson filed an Opposition to Motion to Remand (ECF No. 7). Braddy filed an "Opposition to Defendant's Filing Dated 9/15/14" ("Reply to Defendant's Opposition to Motion to Remand, " ECF No. 8).
On October 3, 2014, Braddy filed a First Motion to Amend (ECF No. 9). Defendant Wilson responded with an Opposition to the Motion to Amend (ECF No. 11). On October 29, 2014, Braddy filed his Second Motion to Amend (ECF No. 12).
II. Summary of Allegations
Braddy's Complaint alleges a variety of conditions at his correctional institution that he finds unsuitable. These conditions include "violating fire codes" (Compl. at. 4), "inmates being subjected to second hand smoke" (id. at 5), "officers stealing food from the kitchen" ( id. ), and "violating code regarding capacity of facilities buildings, currently at 1, 287... inmates" (id. at 4). It appears that Braddy alleges that 18 U.S.C. § 4002 and § 4042,  along with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's regulations for housing, 24 C.F.R. § 5.703, constitute "contracts" between the BOP and the United States, that he is a third party beneficiary to these "contracts, " and that his conditions of confinement constitute a breach of those contracts. (Id. at 3-4.) Braddy seeks ad damnum in the form of $10, 000, 000 in real damages per defendant and $50, 000, 000 in punitive damages. (Id. at 7.)
III. Lack of Jurisdiction
"Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and are empowered to act only in those specific instances authorized by Congress." Goldsmith v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 845 F.2d 61, 63 (4th Cir. 1988) (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). "[A] federal court is obliged to dismiss a case whenever it appears the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.... Determining the question of subject matter jurisdiction at the outset of the litigation is often the most efficient procedure." Lovern v. Edwards, 190 F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir. 1999) (citations omitted). As explained below, because the Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction over Braddy's claims, so too does this Court.
A. Sovereign Immunity and Waiver
"Absent a waiver, sovereign immunity shields the Federal Government and its agencies from suit. Sovereign immunity is jurisdictional in nature. Indeed, the terms of consent [by the United States] to be sued in any court define that court's jurisdiction to entertain the suit." FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475 (1994) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted) (citing United States v. Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206, 212 (1983); United States v. Sherwood, 312 U.S. 584, 586 (1941)).
The statutes and the regulation Braddy cites in his Complaint, 18 U.S.C. §§ 4002,  4042,  and 24 C.F.R. § 5.703 not create a private right of action against the United States for breach of contract. See Touche Ross & Co. v. Redington, 442 U.S. 560, 569 (1979) (refusing to find a statute created an implied private remedy when it ...