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No Federal Claim for Failing to Warn Prisoner of Tobacco Risks

The plaintiff, a South Carolina prisoner, filed suit in the District of Columbia district court against the Surgeon General of the United States, the president of the AMA, and the heads of two tobacco companies for failure to protect him from the health risks of tobacco. The district court dismissed on the grounds that there was no federal claim (which the court affirms in a separate unpublished order) and that venue was not proper in D.C. for a diversity claim.

Sua sponte dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction or improper venue has been held improper on the ground that courts should not dismiss sua sponte based on objections that would be waived if not raised by the defendants. The error is harmless because the appellant failed to show that venue is proper on this appeal. The court also sets out a new rule holding that courts can dismiss sua sponte on that ground and litigants will be permitted to raise arguments and even offer evidence for the first time on appeal. See: Buchanan v. Manley, 145 F.3d 386 (D.C.Cir. 1998) (per curiam).

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Related legal case

Buchanan v. Manley