United States District Court, D. Oregon
MUSTAFA T. KASUBHAI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a federal inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in
Sheridan, Oregon (FCI Sheridan), filed this civil action and
alleged claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) and
the Inmate Accident Compensation Act (IACA). The government
moves to dismiss plaintiff's claims for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim pursuant to
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). For
the reasons explained below, the government's motion is
granted and plaintiff is allowed to amend his complaint.
8, 2017, plaintiff was working as a “Grade 2
cook” in the Food Services Department at FCI Sheridan
and was assigned to clean the fryer. Compl. ¶ 15 (ECF
No. 2). According to plaintiff, he had been told by his
supervisor, Officer Childress, that CMS (Compound Maintenance
Services) “had properly repaired the Fryer's high
pressure pump system.” Id. ¶ 17.
Plaintiff was pumping hot oil into the fryer when “the
repair completed earlier by CMS blew apart, causing the hot
oil to spray wildly, and onto Plaintiff's leg through
Plaintiff's safety equipment, leaving Plaintiff with
painful burns over a substantial area of Plaintiff's left
leg.” Id. ¶ 18. Plaintiff was
“treated with cool rags and given pain medication, in
order to manage the pain, which lasted for (5) five
months.” Id. ¶ 20.
August 24, 2017, plaintiff signed an administrative tort
claim against the government, and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP)
apparently received the claim on April 26, 2018. Herrera
Decl. ¶ 3 & Ex. 1 at 1. Plaintiff's tort claim
sought $10, 000 in damages to compensate for his leg injury.
April 27, 2018, the BOP denied plaintiff's claim,
explaining that it was barred by the IACA. Herrera Decl. Ex.
2 at 1. The denial letter also explained when and how
plaintiff could seek compensation under the IACA.
11, 2018, plaintiff filed suit under the FTCA, or
alternatively, under the IACA. Plaintiff seeks $10, 000 in
pleading stage, a complaint is construed in favor of the
plaintiff, and its factual allegations are taken as true.
Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, 629 F.3d
992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010). In pro se cases particularly, the
court must construe the complaint liberally and afford the
plaintiff “the benefit of any doubt.” Hebbe
v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citation
omitted). However, the court need not accept as true
“conclusory” allegations, “unwarranted
deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.”
Daniels-Hall, 629 F.3d at 998. Instead, “for a
complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the non-conclusory
‘factual content,' and reasonable inferences from
that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim
entitling the plaintiff to relief.” Moss v. United
States Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).
Further, the plaintiff must assert a statutory basis for
judicial review and a waiver of sovereign immunity to support
subject matter in an action against the federal government.
Alvarado v. Table Mountain Rancheria, 509 F.3d 1008,
1016 (9th Cir. 2007).
alleges that the prison officials responsible for repairing
the fryer were negligently trained and supervised,
negligently performed their duties, and exhibited deliberate
indifference to his safety. Compl. ¶¶ 28, 33-34.
Plaintiff maintains that defendants “chose to repair a
high pressure hose, designed for the pressure, as well as the
extreme heat, with a chunk of tubing and a couple of radiator
hose clamps.” Id. ¶ 19. The government
seeks dismissal of plaintiff's claims on several grounds.
the government argues that plaintiff's FTCA claim must be
dismissed because the IACA provides the exclusive remedy for
injures arising from a prison workplace injury. The
government is correct. Under the IACA, Federal Prison
Industries may compensate inmates “for injuries
suffered...in any work activity in connection with the
maintenance or operation of the institution in which the
inmates are confined.” 18 U.S.C. § 4126(c)(4). The
United States Supreme Court has held that the IACA is the
exclusive remedy to seek compensation from the government for
injuries sustained while performing an assigned task in a
federal correctional institution. United States v.
Demko, 385 U.S. 149, 152-54 (1966); see also 28
C.F.R. § 301.319 (“Inmates who are subject to the
provisions of these Inmate Accident Compensation regulations
are barred from recovery under the Federal Tort Claims
Act.”); Vaccaro v. Dobre, 81 F.3d 854, 857
(9th Cir. 1996) (holding that the IACA “is a
prisoner's exclusive remedy against the United States for
work related injuries and bars a prisoner from suit under the
Federal Tort Claims Act for work related injuries”).
Accordingly, plaintiff's FTCA claim is barred.
the government argues that plaintiff's alternative claim
under the IACA fails because the IACA does not authorize a
suit for damages in federal court. Again, the government is
correct. The IACA authorizes lost-time wages resulting from a
workplace injury and sets forth administrative procedures
inmates must follow to file a claim for compensation. See
generally 28 C.F.R. Part 301. In particular, no
compensation for an injury may “be paid prior to an
inmate's release”; rather, the inmate must file a
claim for compensation “[n]o more than 45 day prior to
the date of an inmate's release, but no less than 15 days
prior to this date.” Id. § 301.303(a).
While an inmate may seek judicial review of a final IACA
decision under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA),
see 5 U.S.C. § 704, plaintiff has not filed an
IACA claim and may not file a claim until forty-five day
before his projected release from custody on May 28, 2024.
Therefore, plaintiff's IACA claim also fails.
liberally, plaintiff's allegations arguably raise an
Eighth Amendment Bivens claim against correctional
officers Childress and Rapp. See Bivens v. Six Unknown
Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S.
388 (1971) (authorizing suits for damages against individual
federal officials to remedy violations of certain
constitutional rights). In particular, plaintiff alleges that
Childress and Rapp knew that “the makeshift hose used
to repair the Fryer was not the proper hose for the
Fryer” and exhibited deliberate indifference toward
plaintiff's safety “in failing to upgrade, correct
and or to fix the defective equipment.” Compl.
¶¶ 19, 33. While the IACA precludes tort actions
against the United States, the Ninth Circuit - like the
Sixth, Seventh, and Tenth Circuits - has held that the IACA
does not preclude Bivens claims brought against
individual federal officials and alleging deliberate
indifference under the Eighth Amendment. Vaccaro, 81
F.3d at 857; see also Koprowski v. Baker, 822 F.3d
248, 252 (6th Cir. 2016); Smith v. United States,
561 F.3d 1090, 1103 (10th Cir. 2009); Bagola v.
Kindt, 131 F.3d 632, 645 (7th Cir. 1997). Nonetheless,
plaintiff fails to allege sufficient facts to show that
Childress and Rapp knew of and disregarded an ...