United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
W. deGRAVELLES JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
matter comes before the Court on the United States of
America's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 4) filed by the
United States (“Defendant” or “United
States”). Plaintiff Bernice Smith opposes the motion.
(Doc. 9.) Oral argument is not necessary. The Court has
carefully considered the law, facts in the record, and
arguments and submissions of the parties and is prepared to
rule. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is
granted, and Plaintiff's claim against the United States
is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Relevant Factual Background
following factual background touches on the allegations of
the operative complaint, but the Court primarily focuses on
the exhibits submitted and cited to by
brings this lawsuit pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act
(“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2671 et seq.,
alleging damages arising out of a motor vehicle accident.
(Doc. 1 at 1, 2.) On April 23, 2017, Plaintiff was driving a
2011 Chevrolet Equinox east on Government Street in East
Baton Rouge Parish, in the right travel lane. (Id.
at 2.) Purportedly, at approximately the same time, Bruce
Hillman was driving a 2016 Kenworth 18-wheeler, also
traveling east on Government Street, in the left travel lane.
(Id.) Plaintiff alleges, “Suddenly and without
warning, Bruce Hillman began making a right turn onto Acadia
Street and struck [her] while turning.” (Id.)
Plaintiff alleges that, at the time of the accident, Hillman
was an employee of the United States within the meaning and
intent of the FTC A, and that at all pertinent times, Hillman
was employed by the United States Postal Service
(“USPS”). (Id. at 3.) Additionally,
Plaintiff contends Hillman was in the course and scope of his
employment with the United States at the time of the
accident, making the United States vicariously liable for the
damages caused by Hillman. (Id. at 4.)
April 23, 2018, Plaintiff presented an administrative tort
claim pursuant to the FTCA on a Standard Form 95
(“SF-95”) to the United States Department of
Justice (“DOJ”) regarding the motor vehicle
collision which occurred on April 23, 2017. (Pl. Ex. A, Doc.
1-8.) In section one of the SF-95, Plaintiff listed the U.S.
DOJ as the appropriate federal agency to whom her claim was
1 Submit To Appropriate Federal Agency:
Torts Branch - Civil Divison U.S. Dept of Justice Washington,
(Pl. Ex. A, Doc. 1-8.)
on February 5, 2019, the DOJ returned Plaintiffs claim with a
letter stating that if Plaintiff should determine that the
DOJ is the “appropriate agency” and the employer
of the involved driver, Plaintiff could then resubmit her
claim to them. (Pl. Ex. B, Doc 1-9.) On April 23, 2019,
Plaintiff submitted her claim for the second time to the DOJ
regarding the April 23, 2017 accident. (Pl. Ex. E, Doc. 9-5.)
On May 1, 2019, the DOJ again returned Plaintiff's claim
with a letter advising Plaintiff to resubmit a valid claim
should she determine that the DOJ is the “appropriate
agency.” (Pl. Ex. G, Doc 9-7.)
result, Plaintiff brought this action on April 23, 2019,
alleging negligence against Defendant United States. (Doc.
1.) The United States now moves to dismiss the complaint for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Rule 12(b)(1) Standard
Concerning the standard for Rule 12(b)(1) motions, the Fifth
Circuit has explained:
Motions filed under Rule 12(b)(1) . . . allow a party to
challenge the subject matter jurisdiction of the district
court to hear a case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Lack of subject
matter jurisdiction may be found in any one of three
instances: (1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint
supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or
(3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the