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Amachree v. Barr

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

December 2, 2019

SELEPRI SAINGAYKO AMACHREE, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM BARR[1], Attorney General of the United States, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MARY M. ROWLAND United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Selepri Amachree is a Liberian citizen and a U.S. Green Card holder. In 2001, Illinois police arrested Amachree for drug possession. The Government then commenced removal proceedings against Amachree in the immigration court in Chicago. The immigration court allowed Amachree to remain free from custody while the removal proceedings continued. In 2004, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay of the removal proceedings, and then, in 2006, remanded the case to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). In February 2017, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested Amachree in Dodge County, Wisconsin.

         In connection with that arrest, Amachree brings twenty separate counts against federal and state defendants, alleging multiple state law torts and violations of his Fourth Amendment constitutional rights. The federal defendants moved to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(3). For the reasons explained below, Amachree has not met his burden to show that venue is proper in this court, and the Court grants the defendants' request to transfer the case to the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

         I. Background

         Selepri Amachree (Amachree) brings this action under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 USC § 2674 (“FTCA”) and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). He sued multiple federal officials, including the U.S. Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of ICE and two ICE agents, Brent Kriehn and Joseph Halas (the federal defendants).[2] (Dkt. 1). Amachree alleges various state law tort claims against the federal defendants under the FTCA including false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. Additionally, Amachree alleges that the ICE agents, in their individual capacities, violated his Fourth Amendment rights through unreasonable seizure and civil conspiracy to arrest without probable cause. Amachree also alleges that certain Wisconsin authorities committed both state law and constitutional torts.[3]

         The federal defendants seek dismissal based on improper venue and lack of personal jurisdiction, or alternatively, a transfer of the case to the proper venue. (Dkt. 23.) The federal defendants argue that dismissal for improper venue is appropriate under 12(b)(3) for the claims against the United States under the FTCA and for the claims against the individual defendants under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). (Dkt. 23.) They further argue that the claims against the ICE agents should be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(2) because they do not have the requisite minimum contacts with Illinois. (Id.) Amachree filed a response brief [30], filed an additional “memorandum of law and fact” [33-1] and filed a motion to amend his complaint [27].

         II. Standard

         When a defendant challenges venue under Rule 12(b)(3), “the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that venue is proper.” Nat'l Tech., Inc. v. RepCentric Sols., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98881, at *14 (N.D. Ill. July 16, 2013). “If venue is improper, the court may either dismiss the suit or transfer it to a district in which the plaintiff could have filed it initially.” John Crane Inc v. Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, APC, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41840, at *21 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 23, 2017) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a)). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), “[t]he district court of a district in which is filed a case laying venue in the wrong division or district shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any district or division in which it could have been brought.”

         III. Analysis

         A. Venue Under the FTCA

         The Northern District of Illinois is not the proper venue for Amachree's claims arising under the FTCA. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1402(b), FTCA claims may only be brought “in the judicial district where the plaintiff resides or wherein the act or omission complained of occurred.” Amachree resides in Dodge County, Wisconsin and resided there at the time of his 2017 arrest. (Compl. ¶ 38.) Furthermore, the actions complained of-Amachree's arrest and detention by ICE agents-took place in Dodge County, Wisconsin. (Id. ¶ 36.) Thus, § 1402(b) bars Amachree from bringing the FTCA claims in the Northern District of Illinois.

         Amachree argues that 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) is the only governing venue statute in this case. This argument fails for two reasons. First, the initial section of this statute provides that it governs venue “except as otherwise provided by law.” 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a) (emphasis added). For the FTCA claims, § 1402(b) controls in which judicial district claims may be brought. As discussed, Amachree does not meet the requirements of § 1402(b). Amachree's attempt in his response brief to contend that “local law” is only “partly applicable” to his tort claims (Dkt. 30 at 27) is not convincing when he expressly brought claims under the FTCA for violations of Wisconsin state law.

         Second, even if § 1391(b) was the operative statute for the FTCA claims, it provides, in pertinent part: “A civil action may be brought in- … (2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated…” For the reasons discussed more fully below, the Court does not agree with Amachree's contention that “a substantial part of the events . . . giving rise to the claim occurred” in Illinois.

         B. Venue Under 28 ...


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