United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
ANTHONY J. TRENGA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Alexander Patterson ("plaintiff' or
"Patterson"), a federal inmate proceeding pro se,
initiated this civil action pursuant to the Federal Tort
Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 2671 et
seg. Defendant United States of America
("defendant" or "United States" or
"the government") filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment on the Pleadings [Dkt. No. 18], a Motion for Summary
Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 [Dkt.
No. 19], and a memorandum in support of its motions [Dkt. No.
20]. Plaintiff received the notice required by Local Rule
7(K) and time to file responsive materials pursuant to
Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975)
[Dkt. Nos. 18-19]. He submitted a memorandum in opposition to
defendant's Motions for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 24],
defendant filed a reply [Dkt. No. 29], and, finally,
plaintiff filed a surreply [Dkt. No. 30]. This matter is
therefore ripe for adjudication. For the reasons stated
below, defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on the
Pleadings will be denied, its Motion for Summary Judgment
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 will be
granted, and judgment will enter in favor of defendant.
undisputed facts are as follows. On July 5, 2017, plaintiff
entered a Taco Bell restaurant in Dumfries, Virginia,
intending to sell 56 grams of heroin to an individual who,
unbeknownst to plaintiff, was an undercover officer of the
Prince William County Police Department. Smith Aff. ¶ 3.
Before this date, on more than one occasion, plaintiff had
sold this undercover officer heroin and firearms.
possession of a federal arrest warrant for plaintiff, members
of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
("ATF") followed plaintiff into the vestibule of
the Taco Bell restaurant and announced that he was under
arrest. Id. at ¶ 4. Special Agent Smith
instructed plaintiff to face the wall of the vestibule, and,
as plaintiff complied, another Special Agent removed
plaintiffs cell phone from his hand. Id. at
¶¶ 4-5. Special Agent Smith then placed plaintiff
in handcuffs. Id. at ¶ 5. Though plaintiff
leaned against the wall during the arrest, Orta Aff. ¶
5, his face was turned to the side, he did not
resist, and no agent forced his face into the
wall. Id. at ¶ 5; Smith Aff. ¶ 6. Once
plaintiff was in custody, Special Agent Smith asked plaintiff
if he needed medical attention, and plaintiff indicated that
he did not. Smith Aff. ¶ 7; Fernald
was transported to the Alexandria Adult Detention Center
where a nurse conducted a medical screening of plaintiff and
did not note any injuries or medical problems related to
plaintiffs head. DEX 7. Plaintiffs booking photo, however,
showed a lump in the middle of plaintiff s forehead. DEX 5.
And, during a proffer session on September 14, 2017, Special
Agent Fernald noticed that lump. Id. at ¶¶
4-6. Plaintiff claimed that it resulted from his July 5,
2017, arrest. Id. Defendants have introduced a
booking photograph of plaintiff predating this incident, a
photo from 2014, that shows a lump in the same location on
plaintiffs head. DEX 6.
Standard of Review
Judgment on the Pleadings
the defense of "lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction" generally "must be made before
pleading," Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b), the court "must
dismiss" a claim if it "determines at any
time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3) (emphasis supplied). Accordingly,
"questions of subject matter jurisdiction may be raised
at any point during the proceedings." Brickwood
Contractors. Inc. v. Datanet Eng'g, Inc., 369 F.3d
385, 390 (4th Cir. 2004). Indeed, even "[a]fter the
pleadings are closed," a party may assert such a
jurisdictional challenge by moving for "judgment on the
pleadings." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). "[I]f a party
raises an issue of subject matter jurisdiction on his motion
for judgment on the pleadings, the court will treat the
motion as if it had been brought under Rule 12(b)(1)." 5
A Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure §
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant 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). "A dispute is genuine if a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party," and "[a] fact is material if it might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law."
Variety Stores v. Wal-Mart Stores. Inc.. 888 F.3d
651, 659 (4th Cir. 2018). Once the moving party has met its
burden to show that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law, the nonmoving party "must show that there is a
genuine dispute of material fact for trial... by offering
sufficient proof in the form of admissible evidence."
Id. (quoting Guessous v. Fairview Prop. Invs..
LLC. 828 F.3d 208, 216 (4th Cir. 2016)). With that said,
the "mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in
support of the [opposing party's] position" is
insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc.. 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, a
district court should consider the evidence in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable
inferences from those facts in favor of that party.
United States v. Diebold. Inc.. 369 U.S. 654, 655
Judgment on the Pleadings
argues that it is entitled to judgment on the pleadings
because "Plaintiffs complaint expressly pleads a lack of
jurisdiction." Def s MS J, p. 8. Defendant explains
that, "[u]nder Virginia law, an employer is responsible
... when an employee ... [injures] another ... while acting
within the scope of [his or her] duty," Def s MS J,
pp.7-8, and that plaintiff pleaded that "the agents
acted outside of their professional duties of
employment" in allegedly battering plaintiff.
Id. (emphasis supplied). In deference to his pro se
status, however, the Court will assume that plaintiff sought
only to characterize ATF agents' behavior as
inappropriate and did not intend for this characterization to
carry legal weight. And, as defendant correctly notes, the
record makes quite clear that the ATF agents involved in this
situation acted within ...