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Oriakhi v. Bureau of Prisons

February 27, 2008

FELIX ORIAKHI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BUREAU OF PRISONS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jerome B. Simandle United States District Judge

HON. JEROME B. SIMANDLE

OPINION

SIMANDLE, District Judge:

Plaintiff Felix Oriakhi, pro se, is a prisoner at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Dix, New Jersey (FCI -- Fort Dix). He filed this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 2672, asserting claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671 et seq., and the United States Constitution relating to Defendants' alleged confiscation of his book and gym bag. Defendants have moved to dismiss and/or for summary judgment [Docket Item 15]. For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant Defendants' motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a federal prisoner at FCI -- Fort Dix. (Compl. ¶ 1.) He filed the instant lawsuit to address two separate, allegedly unlawful incidents that occurred between January 2006 and May 2006: the BOP's interception of a book that Plaintiff ordered, and Defendant Yeoman's*fn1 confiscation of Plaintiff's gym bag. (Id. at ¶¶ 7, 18.)

A. The Confiscation of Plaintiff's Book

On November 14, 2005, Plaintiff placed an order for two books with publisher Edward R. Hamilton, Bookseller, to be delivered to Plaintiff at FCI -- Fort Dix. (Id. at ¶ 6.) These two books were entitled Create Your Own Erotic Fantasy and Good Orgasm Guide. (Id.) While the first of these books was delivered to Plaintiff at the prison's mail call on January 5, 2006, Plaintiff never received the second book. (Id. at ¶ 7.) Plaintiff contacted the publisher to confirm that both books had been shipped, and when he received a receipt confirming the shipment of both books, he was informed in writing by an employee in the prison's mail room that the second book was being reviewed by the prison's legal department. (Id. at ¶¶ 9-10.) Plaintiff submitted a request to the legal department that the book be delivered to him "immediate[ly]," (id. at ¶ 11), to which the legal department ultimately responded that, pursuant to the Ensign Act, Plaintiff's book had been returned to the publisher because it "is sexually explicit or features nudity."*fn2 (Id. at ¶ 12.)

Plaintiff filed an FTCA administrative tort claim form in response to the confiscation of his book. (Id. at ¶ 17.) In addition, on February 25, 2006, Plaintiff filed an "Inmate Request to Staff" form complaining of the confiscation of his book and stating his intent to file suit on account of the prison's alleged violation of his First Amendment rights. (Pl.'s Opp'n Br. Ex. 12.) On August 25, 2006, he received a response from the Northern Regional Office of the BOP informing him that his FTCA claim had been denied. (Pl.'s Opp'n Br. Ex. 1.) Plaintiff appealed this decision to the BOP's General Counsel, and in a response dated September 26, 2006, Harrell Watts, administrator of National Inmate Appeals, informed Plaintiff that the denial of his claim had been upheld. (Pl.'s Opp'n Br. Ex. 13.)

B. The Confiscation of Plaintiff's Gym Bag

Plaintiff also alleges that on May 16, 2006, Correctional Officer Yeoman confiscated his athletic bag without providing Plaintiff with a "confiscation form" explaining the reasons for the confiscation. (Compl. ¶¶ 18, 20.) Plaintiff filed an FTCA administrative tort claim form in response to the confiscation of his gym bag, and on August 25, 2006 -- the same day he received a response on his claim concerning the confiscated book*fn3 -- he was informed by the Northern Regional Office of the BOP that his FTCA claim had been denied. (Pl.'s Opp'n Br. Ex. 2.) Although Plaintiff appealed the denial of his claim concerning the interception of his book to the BOP's General Counsel, Plaintiff does not assert -- and there is no evidence in the record to suggest -- that he similarly appealed the decision denying his gym bag confiscation claim to the General Counsel's office.

C. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter [Docket Item 1] on January 17, 2007, and on January 24, 2007, the Court issued an Order [Docket Item 2] which, inter alia, granted Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis and added the United States as a defendant on Plaintiff's Federal Tort Claim. Defendants subsequently filed the instant ...


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