United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
RICHARD G. STEARNS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
reasons stated below, the court dismisses this action.
Bostic, who is incarcerated at FMC Devens, has filed a
pleading captioned as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 and paid $5.00 for the filing
fee. Bostic alleges that, while he was incarcerated at FCC
Butner, prison staff members were negligent by failing to
secure his personal property while he was in the special
housing unit. As a result of this alleged misconduct,
Bostic's property was stolen. On March 3, 2017, Bostic
filed with the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) an
administrative tort claim concerning the loss of his
property. The government denied the claim, concluding that
there was not any evidence of negligence on the part of any
BOP staff member. Bostic seeks $663.95 in damages.
petition has not been served pending the court's
preliminary review of the pleading. See 28 U.S.C.
corpus review is available under § 2241 if a person is
“in custody in violation of the Constitution
or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241(c)(3) (emphasis added). “[T]he essence of
habeas corpus is an attack by a person in custody upon the
legality of that custody, and . . . the traditional function
of the writ is to secure release from illegal custody.”
Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 484 (1973).
“Challenges to the validity of any confinement or to
particulars affecting its duration are the province of habeas
corpus; requests for relief turning on circumstances of
confinement may be presented in a [non-habeas action].”
Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750 (2004).
habeas relief is not available. Bostic is not challenging the
fact or duration of his confinement. He complains of the loss
of personal property due to the alleged negligence of BOP
staff members. Accordingly, the court must deny Bostic's
petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
Federal Tort Claims Act
pleading also fails when construed as a non-habeas civil
Federal Employees Reform and Tort Compensation Act of 1988,
or the “Westfall Act, ” 28 U.S.C. § 2679(b)
provides that a suit against the United States under the
Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) is the exclusive
remedy “for injury or loss of property, or personal
injury or death arising or resulting from the negligent or
wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government
while acting within the scope of his office.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2679(b)(1). The FTCA waives the United States'
sovereign immunity for claims arising out of torts committed
by federal employees, see 28 U.S.C. 1346(b)(1), but,
as relevant here, excludes from that waiver “[a]ny
claim arising in respect of . . . the detention of any goods,
merchandise, or other property . . . by any officer of
customs or excise or any other law enforcement officer,
” 28 U.S.C. § 2680(c).
cause of action falls within this waiver exclusion of the
FTCA. For purposes of the FTCA, a BOP officer is a “law
enforcement officer.” Ali v. Federal Bureau of
Prisons, 552 U.S. 214, 227-228 (2008). Further,
“‘any claim arising in respect of' the
detention of goods means any claim ‘arising out of'
the detention of goods, and includes a claim resulting from
negligent handling or storage of detained property.”
Kosak v. United States, 465 U.S. 848, 854 (1984).
Here, Bostic's claim that BOP officers negligently failed
to protect his property from theft while he was segregation
is a claim arising out of the negligent handling or storage
of his property. See, e.g., Brown v. United
States, 384 Fed.Appx. 815, 818 (10th Cir. 2010) (holding
that § 2680(c) barred claim against BOP officer who
allegedly allowed inmates to rifle through and steal property
of inmate who was in segregation).