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Parker v. United States Postal Service

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 19, 2016

KATHERINE PARKER, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge.

         Plaintiffs Katherine Parker and Montrell Woody bring this action pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) against the United States Postal Service (“USPS”)[1]seeking damages for injuries they allegedly suffered as a result of a motor vehicle collision with a USPS truck on July 2, 2014. (ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 2-5.)

         Currently pending before this Court is defendant's Partial Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Partial Summary Judgment (“Defendant's Motion”) (ECF No. 14). Through this Motion, defendant seeks to dismiss the claims of plaintiff Woody as time barred.[2] (ECF No. 14-1 at 2.) The parties' submissions have been reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion is GRANTED and plaintiff Woody's claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Woody seeks to recover damages for injuries he allegedly suffered as a result of a motor vehicle collision with an USPS truck on July 2, 2014 in west Baltimore. (ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 2-4.) Mr. Woody was a passenger in the car driven by co-plaintiff Parker at the time of the accident. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that the accident was caused by the negligence of USPS's agent, Michael Randolph. (Id. at ¶¶ 8-10.) Plaintiff also alleges that USPS was negligent in entrusting Mr. Randolph with the USPS truck and in its supervision of Mr. Randolph's use of the truck. (Id. at ¶¶ 11-30.)

         Mr. Woody filed an administrative claim for damages in the autumn of 2014.[3] (ECF No. 14-2.) His claim was denied by letter dated February 2, 2015. (ECF No. 14-3.) By letter dated July 2 and received on July 6, 2015, plaintiff requested that USPS reconsider its denial of his claim. (ECF No. 14-4.) USPS denied the request for reconsideration by letter dated July 10, 2015. (ECF No. 14-5.) USPS's letter denying plaintiff's request for reconsideration stated:

In accordance with 28 U.S.C. 2401(b) and 39 C.F.R. 912.9(a), if dissatisfied with the Postal Service's final decision of an administrative claim, a claimant may file suit in a United States District Court no later than six (6) months after the date the Postal Service mails the notice of that final action. Accordingly, any suit filed in regards to this denial must be filed no later than six (6) months from the date of the mailing of this letter, which is the date shown above. Further, note the United States of America is the only proper defendant in a civil action brought pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act and such suit may be heard only by a federal district court.

(ECF No. 14-5) (emphasis added.) The instant suit was filed on February 26, 2016, more than seven months after the date on which USPS's decision letter was mailed. (ECF No. 1.)

         STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         I. Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is “to test the sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006); see also Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir. 2016). The sufficiency of a complaint is assessed by reference to the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), which provides that a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain facts sufficient to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl., Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009). In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court “‘must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint'” and must “‘draw all reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the plaintiff.'” E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted); see Houck v. Substitute Tr. Servs., Inc., 791 F.3d 473, 484 (4th Cir. 2015).

         Under limited exceptions, a court may consider documents beyond the complaint without converting the motion to dismiss to one for summary judgment. Goldfarb v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 791 F.3d 500, 508 (4th Cir. 2015). A court may properly consider documents that are “explicitly incorporated into the complaint by reference and those attached to the complaint as exhibits . . . .” Goines, 822 F.3d at 166 (citations omitted); see U.S. ex rel. Oberg, 745 F.3d at 136 (quoting Philips v. Pitt Cty Memorial Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009)); Anand v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, 754 F.3d 195, 198 (4th Cir. 2014); Am. Chiropractic Ass'n v. Trigon Healthcare, Inc., 367 F.3d 212, 234 (4th Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 543 U.S. 979 (2004); Phillips v. LCI Int'l Inc., 190 F.3d 609, 618 (4th Cir. 1999).

         A court may also “consider a document submitted by the movant that was not attached to or expressly incorporated in a complaint, so long as the document was integral to the complaint and there is no dispute about the document's authenticity.” Goines, 822 F.3d at 166 (citations omitted). To be “integral, ” a document must be one “that by its ‘very existence, and not the mere information it contains, gives rise to the legal rights asserted.'” Chesapeake Bay Found., Inc. v. Severstal Sparrows Point, LLC, 794 F.Supp.2d 602, 611 (D. Md. 2011) (citation omitted) (emphasis in original).

         II. Motion for ...


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