Correctional Services Corp. v. Malesko, 534 U.S. 61 (2001)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the second circuit

No. 00-860. Argued October 1, 2001—Decided November 27, 2001

Petitioner Correctional Services Corporation (CSC), under contract with the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), operates Le Marquis Community Correctional Center (Le Marquis), a facility that houses federal inmates. After respondent, a federal inmate afflicted with a heart condition limiting his ability to climb stairs, was assigned to a bedroom on Le Marquis' fifth floor, CSC instituted a policy requiring inmates residing below the sixth floor to use the stairs rather than the elevator. Respondent was exempted from this policy. But when a CSC employee forbade respondent to use the elevator to reach his bedroom, he climbed the stairs, suffered a heart attack, and fell. Subsequently, respondent filed this damages action against CSC and individual defendants, alleging, inter alia, that they were negligent in refusing him the use of the elevator. The District Court treated the complaint as raising claims under Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U. S. 388, in which this Court recognized for the first time an implied private action for damages against federal officers alleged to have violated a citizen's constitutional rights. In dismissing the suit, the District Court relied on FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U. S. 471, reasoning, inter alia, that a Bivens action may only be maintained against an individual, not a corporate entity. The Second Circuit reversed in pertinent part and remanded, remarking, with respect to CSC, that Meyer expressly declined to expand the category of defendants against whom Bivens-type actions may be brought to include not only federal agents, but also federal agencies. But the court reasoned that such private entities should be held liable under Bivens to accomplish the important Bivens goal of providing a remedy for constitutional violations.

Held: Bivens' limited holding may not be extended to confer a right of action for damages against private entities acting under color of federal law. The Court's authority to imply a new constitutional tort, not expressly authorized by statute, is anchored in its general jurisdiction to decide all cases arising under federal law. The Court first exercised this authority in Bivens. From a discussion of that and subsequent cases, it is clear that respondent's claim is fundamentally different from anything the Court has heretofore recognized. In 30 years of Bivens jurisprudence, the Court has extended its holding only twice, to pro-


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