De Madrid v. Federal Bureau of Prisons
Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a 1972 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, held that federal officials can be sued in their individual capacities for violations of constitutional rights. In March 2011, the plaintiff inmate allegedly slipped on a piece of ice, near an ice machine, and broke her knee. The plaintiff sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons, pro se, and requested monetary damages, medical treatment and physical therapy. The plaintiff's complaint alleged that the bureau was negligent, because it failed to place a sign near the ice machine, to warn that the floor could be wet and slippery. The court construed the plaintiff's complaint as filed pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Allegations of inadvertent or negligent conduct are insufficient to state a Bivens claim, and the court dismissed the plaintiff's claim that the Bureau of Prisons was negligent. The court also dismissed the plaintiff's allegations against the Federal Bureau of Prisons in its official capacity, because the Federal Bureau of Prisons is entitled to immunity. The plaintiff failed to allege she exhausted her administrative remedies, as required to allege a claim pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Federal Tort Claims Act waives the government's sovereign immunity for the alleged negligence of government employees. The court did not construe the plaintiff's complaint as alleging a cause of action under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The court dismissed the plaintiff's Bivens' claim without prejudice to the plaintiff filing a claim pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, after she exhausts administrative remedies.