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Meh v. Bruce

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

June 1, 2016

MODESTA MEH, Plaintiff,
v.
KATIA YVETTE BRUCE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GEORGE.I. IIAZEL United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Modesta Meh brought this action against Defendants Katia Yvettc Bruce[1] and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority ("WMATA"). alleging damages related to a vehicular collision. ECF No. 2. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446. WMATA removed this matter from the Circuit Court for Prince George's County. Maryland to this Court. ECF No. 1. This Memorandum Opinion and accompanying Order address Defendant WMATA"s Motion to Dismiss Defendant Katia Yvette Bruce (ECF No. 6). A hearing is unnecessary. Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons stated below. Defendant WMATA's Motion to Dismiss Katia Yvette Bruce is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND[2]

         On November 26. 2013. Plaintiff was operating a vehicle on Cherry Hill Road in Prince George's County. Maryland. ECF No. 2 ¶ 5. As Plaintiff drove through the intersection of Cherry Hill Road and Calverton Boulevard. Defendant Bruce tailed to stop for a Hashing red light and collided with Plaintiffs vehicle. ECF No. 2 ¶ 6. At the time of the collision. Bruce was operating a vehicle owned by Defendant WMATA and acting as an agent for WMATA. ECF No. 2 ¶ 6; ECF No. 5 ¶ ("Defendant WMATA denies the allegations contained in Paragraph Six of Plaintiff s Complaint, except that Defendant WMATA admits that Defendant Katia Yvette Bruce was acting in the scope of her agency as an operator of a Metro Access motor vehicle owned by the Defendant WMATA at the time of the occurrence."*).

         Plaintiff filed her Complaint in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County. Maryland on January 8. 2016. ECF No. 2. On February ll). 2016. WMATA removed the matter to this Court, filed an Answer, and filed a Motion to Dismiss as to Defendant Bruce only. ECF Nos. 1, 5, 6. Plaintiff has not filed an Opposition to WMATA's Motion to Dismiss, which was due on March 7. 2016.[3]

         II. DISCUSSION

         Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(I). 12(b)(6). and 12(h)(3). WMATA argues that Plaintiffs claims against Bruce should be dismissed. ECF No. 6. Lack of subject-matter jurisdiction may be raised by a defendant under Rule 12(b)(1). Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). If the Court determines that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the Court must dismiss the action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). In instances in which immunity is established, the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. Smith v. Wash. Metro. Area. Transit Auth.. 290 F.3d 201, 205 (4th Cir. 2002) ("To the extent the METRO'S complained-ofactions fall within its cloak of immunity, we lack subject matter jurisdiction over such claims.").

         Rule 12(b)(6) permits a defendant to present a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain 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. 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009): see also Conn. Gen. Life Ins. Co. v. Advanced Surgery Cir. o/Beihesda. LLC, No. DKC 14-2376, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91689, at * 13 (D. Md. July 15. 2015) ("At this stage, all well-pled allegations in a complaint must be considered as true and all factual allegations must be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." IqbaL 556 U.S. at 678.

         WMATA is an agency of the State of Maryland, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia created for the design and implementation of a unified regional transit system. Transp. 10-204(1)(d) and (2). As a government agency, it is immune from suit except to the extent that is waives sovereign immunity. Smith v, Cromer. 159 F.3d 875. 879 (4th Cir. 1998) ("Where an agency has not waived its immunity to suit, the state court (and the federal court on removal) lacks jurisdiction to proceed against a federal employee acting pursuant to agency direction.''). Under Section 80 of the WMATA Compact.

[WMATA] shall be liable for its contracts and for its torts and those of its directors, officers, employees and agents committed in the conduct of any proprietary function, in accordance with the law of the applicable signatory (including rules of conflict of laws), but shall not be liable for any torts occurring in the performance of a governmental function. The exclusive remedy for such breach of contracts and torts for which [WMA TA] shall be liable, as herein provided, shall he by suit against [WMA TA],

Md. Code Ann.. Transp. § 10-204(80) (EexisNexis 2016) (emphasis added). Plaintiffs claim against Defendant Bruce is barred by immunity because Bruce was acting as an agent for WMATA at the time of the collision. ECF No. 2 ¶ 6. Plaintiffs exclusive remedy for its alleged tort is her claim against WMATA. Accordingly, the Court must be dismiss the claim against Bruce for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         IV. CONCLUSION

         For the reasons stated above, the Court GRANTS Defendant WMATA's Motion to Dismiss Defendant Katia Yvette Bruce (ECF No. 6). Defendant Bruce shall be removed ...


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