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Turner v. Scott

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

August 8, 2019

DANIEL TURNER, JR.
v.
ARDIE SCOTT, III

          RULING AND ORDER

          BRIAN A. JACKSON JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 2) filed by Defendant. Plaintiff did not file a response. For the reasons stated herein, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On October 3, 2018, pro se Plaintiff filed a Petition for Protection from Stalking or Sexual Assault in the 19th Judicial District Court. On November 5, 2018, Defendant removed the action to federal court. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff is employed by the United States Postal Service ("USPS") facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as a clerk. Defendant is a supervisor at the same facility.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant harassed him at work on two separate occasions. First, he claims that Defendant harassed him on October 1, 2019 by directing him to clear a full stacker machine in order to allow mail to continue processing. Plaintiff claims that he felt uncomfortable because Defendant "showed no signs of backing away." (Doc. 1-2 at p. 4). Second, Plaintiff asserts that on July 2, 2018, Defendant struck Plaintiff with his forearm as "Plaintiff was trying to get around Defendant" at work. (Id.)

         Plaintiff seeks a temporary restraining order prohibiting Defendant from harassing him, contacting him, approaching him, coming to work at USPS, and damaging any of Plaintiffs belongings. Defendant contends that the Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction in this case because Plaintiffs lawsuit is barred by sovereign immunity. (Doc. 2-1 at p. 1).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), a claim is" 'properly dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction when the court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate' the claim." In re FEMA Trailer Formaldehyde Prods. Liab. Litig., 668 F.3d 281, 286 (5th Cir. 2012) (quoting Home Builders Ass'n v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998)). To "prevent [ ] a court without jurisdiction from prematurely dismissing a case with prejudice," a court should consider a Rule 12(b)(1) motion for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction before addressing any motions that concern the merits of a case. Id. at 286-87 (citing Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001)).

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) is analyzed under the same standard as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Benton v. United States, 960 F.2d 19, 21 (5th Cir. 1992). That standard seeks to determine whether "a complaint... contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Ail. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "[F]acial plausibility" exists "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Hence, the complaint need not set out "detailed factual allegations," but something "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" is required. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Is Sovereign Immunity Applicable?

         Defendant asserts that Plaintiffs suit is a suit against the United States and is therefore barred by sovereign immunity. The United States Government is cloaked with sovereign immunity from suit unless it expressly waives such immunity. United States, v. McLemore, 45 U.S. 286, 288 (1846). Moreover, officers of the United States acting "in pursuit of their official duties remain protected by sovereign immunity." Williamson v. United States Dept. of Agriculture, 815 F.2d 368, 380 (5th Cir. 1987). Here, Plaintiff brings suit against Defendant in his official capacity as a U.S. postal worker. This matter relates directly to Defendant's performance of his duties as Plaintiffs supervisor at a federal facility. Accordingly, Plaintiffs claim is subject to sovereign immunity.

         B. Did the United States Waive Sovereign Immunity?

         The Court must next determine whether the United States has waived sovereign immunity. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has not addressed whether an individual can bring suit against a USPS worker for injunctive relief. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has addressed a set of facts nearly identical to Plaintiffs case. Hendy v. Bello,555 Fed.Appx. 224, 228 (4th Cir. 2014) (holding that a USPS employee's petition for a restraining order against her coworker was barred by sovereign ...


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