Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mansa v. United States

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 7, 2019

MARK MANSA, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         While on supervised release from prison, in a community-based Transitional Drug Abuse treatment program, Mark Mansa (“Plaintiff”) tested positive for “Morphine” on a mandatory drug test. Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 3-6, 7-8; Brief in Opp. to Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 24, at 1, Ex. 5 [Alere Toxicology Serv. Inc., Results of Controlled Substance Test: Mark Mansa (June 12, 2014)] (“Alere Toxicology Serv., Inc. Controlled Substances Test”); Def. Mot. to Dismiss or for Summ. J., ECF 23, at 6.

         Mr. Mansa's positive test disqualified him from community-based treatment services (“CTS”) and Residential Reentry Center (“RRC”) programs and made him “ineligible to receive a reduction in sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)(2)(B).” Def. Mot. to Dismiss or for Summ. J. at 9, 13, Ex. 1h. He was removed from his community placement and detained in The Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island for five and a half months. Compl. at ¶14; Brief in Opp. to Mot. for Summ. J. at 2.

         Mr. Mansa has now sued the United States of America (“Defendant” or the “Government”) under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), et. seq., Compl. at ¶ 1, alleging that his positive test result fell below “Federal Bureau of Prisons' cutoff level for an opiate marker in a urine sample”, and that he was wrongfully imprisoned and “suffered physical pain and discomfort and loss of freedom as a direct and proximate consequence of his imprisonment by defendant.” Id. at ¶¶ 10, 15.

         The Government now moves for summary judgment. Def. Mot. to Dismiss or for Summ. J., ECF 23.[1]

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court now GRANTS Defendant's motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 23.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Allegations[2]

         On June 1, 2012, Mr. Mansa received a sentence of forty-six months imprisonment for one count of possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. Compl. ¶ 3. On July 6, 2016, Mr. Mansa began serving his sentence. Id. On or about May 6, 2014, when Mr. Mansa had served twenty-two months of his sentence, he was transferred to a Residential Reentry Center (“RRC”) in Waterbury, Connecticut. Compl. at ¶ 4.

         Later that month and while still on supervised release from prison, Mr. Mansa began working in New York City. Brief in Opp. to Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 24, at 1; Ex. 1, ECF No. 24-2 [Deposition of Mark Vincent Mansa, extracted (Feb. 23, 2018)] (“Dep. of Plaintiff”), at 37. His employer allegedly gave him rolls and sandwiches “garnished with poppy seeds.” Dep. of Plaintiff at 37. At first, Mr. Mansa allegedly did not realize he was eating poppy seed rolls. Id., Ex. 1 at 39-40.

         On May 28, 2014, Mr. Mansa tested positive for “Morphine” on a test with a screen cutoff of 300 ng/mL and a confirmation cut-off of 200 ng/mL. Alere Toxicology Serv., Inc. Controlled Substances Test. On June 4, 2014, he called his RRC (“the Chase Center”) to report that he had consumed a hard roll that contained poppy seeds. Id., Ex. 3, ECF No. 24-4 [Incident Report, Community Solutions Inc. (June 19, 2014)]. A Chase Center counselor allegedly told Mr. Mansa not to worry because he would need to “eat a whole case . . . or a whole boxful” of poppy seed rolls or bagels to test positive. Dep. of Plaintiff at 35-36. On June 12, 2014, the results of Mr. Mansa's positive controlled substance test were reported. Alere Toxicology Serv., Inc. Controlled Substances Test.

         A week or two later, a staff member from the RRC called Mr. Mansa to tell him he was being sent back to prison. Id. at 24. Mr. Mansa allegedly offered to submit to a “gas chromatography test” at his own expense. Id. at 25. A RRC staffer allegedly discouraged Mr. Mansa from pursuing the additional “hair test” on his own. Id. Nevertheless, on July 2, 2014, Mr. Mansa submitted a hair sample for testing. Id., Ex. 4, ECF 24-5.[3] That test yielded a negative result for opiates at a screening cut off of 200 pg/mg. Id. Still, Mr. Mansa was incarcerated for five and a half months for failing his CTS and RRC programs. Compl. at ¶14; Def. Mot. to Dismiss or for Summ. J. at 9, 13, Ex. 1h; Brief in Opp. to Mot. for Summ. J. at 2.

         Mr. Mansa claims that a positive urinalysis result for 200 ng/mL of “Morphine” was insufficient to justify his detention under Bureau of Prison (“BOP”) policies. Brief in Opp. to Mot. for Summ. J. at 5; see also, Ex. 6, ECF No. 24-7 [Residential Reentry Center, “Statement of Work” Manual: Attachment C (Aug. 2007)]. Mr. Mansa contends that BOP rules “expressly provided that a drug screen level less than 300 ng/ml was not evidence of opiate ingestion.” Id. In support of this argument, Mr. Mansa submits a table entitled “Urinalysis Procedures”; it is allegedly an attachment to the Residential Reentry Center's August 2007 Statement of Work manual. Brief in Opp. to Mot. for Summ. J. at Ex. 6. Mr. Mansa claims that BOP procedures-as published “in the Statement at Work . . . on any federal website . . . . [and in] the law”-set a minimum threshold for a positive result as 300 ng/mL. Dep. of Plaintiff at 23.

         The Government argues that Mr. Mansa knew that he could be disciplined for a positive drug test, at any level. The Government also argues that it made a reasonable decision, based on BOP policy and related to legitimate health and safety concerns, to remove Mr. Mansa from the community following his positive toxicology screening. The parties agree that Mr. Mansa was afforded-and prevailed on-an appeal of his re-incarceration.

         1. Notice Evidence

         The Government alleges that Mr. Mansa knew that he could be disciplined for a positive drug test, even if it was caused by poppy seed consumption. Def. Mot. to Dismiss or for Summ. J. at 6. In support of this claim, the Government submits five exhibits.

         First, there is the “Community Based Program Agreement”, which states:

I understand that urinalysis or other Bureau of Prisons authorized testing to detect unauthorized drug or alcohol use may be required as a condition of residence in a residential re-entry center or work release program, and if required, I agree to submit to such testing. I understand that ingestion of poppy seed products may result in positive test results for unauthorized drug use and is therefore prohibited.

Id. at Doc. 2a, ECF No. 23-9, U.S. Dept. of Justice/Fed. Bureau of Prisons, Community Based Program Agreement [BP-A0434, Rev. June 2010 (Oct. 16, 2013)]. On October 16, 2013, Mr. Mansa signed the Community Based Program Agreement. Id.

         Second, there is the “Adult Work Release Client Handbook”, which states:

We expect you to remain drug and alcohol free during your placement. You are not to consume poppy seeds, or quinine in any form, including tonic water[.] These substances may result in a false positive drug test. All positive drug tests are treated as the result of the use of illegal drugs[.] Positive results will be considered conclusive evidence of drug or alcohol use.

Id. at Doc. 2b, ECF No. 23-9, Community Solutions, Adult Work Release Client Handbook (Rev. May 2012) at 17. On May 6, 2014, Mr. Mansa signed a “Handbook Sign-off” attesting that he had received and read the handbook, and that he understood the “behavioral responsibilities and potential sanctions” described in the handbook. Id. at Doc. 2c, Community Solutions, Inc. Handbook Sign-off.

         Third, there is a signed “Client Orientation Checklist”, which states: “Prohibition on use of drugs, alcohol, poppy seeds, quinine water, tonic water, medicated inhalers or any inhalers without a prescription, including Vicks and Benedrex inhalers.” Id. at Doc. 2d, ECF No. 23-10, Community Solutions, Inc., Client Orientation Checklist [Rev. Nov. 2007 (May 6, 2014)].

         Fourth, there is a “Conditions of Furlough” form, which states:

It has been determined that consumption of poppy seeds may cause a positive drug test which may result in disciplinary action. As a condition of my participation in community programs, I will not consume any poppy seeds or items containing poppy seeds.

Id. at Doc. 2d, ECF No. 23-10, Fed. Bureau of Prisons, Conditions of Furlough (March 16, 2014).

         Mr. Mansa signed that document on March 16, 2014. Id.

         Fifth, there is the “Conditions of Home Detention” form, which states:

I will submit to urinalysis or alcohol testing as requested by the RRC/Probation. I understand that the ingestion of poppy seed food products may result in positive test results for unauthorized drug use and is therefore prohibited.

Id. at Doc. 2d, ECF No. 23-10, U.S. Dept. of Justice/Fed. Bureau of Prisons, Conditions of Home Detention [BP-A0460, Rev. June 2010 (June 2, 2014)]. Mr. Mansa signed that document on June 2, 2014. Id.

         2. Decision-Making Evidence

         The Government also argues that it made a reasonable decision, based on BOP policy, to remove Mr. Mansa from the community following his positive toxicology screening. In support of this claim, the Government submits three groups of exhibits.

         First, there is the U.S. Dept. of Justice/Bureau of Prisons “Incident Report” following Mr. Mansa's positive drug test. The report characterizes the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.