Sconiers v. Brennan et al
ORDER directing as follows that: (1) the plf's 66 Objections to Report and Recommendation are OVERRULED; (2) the 65 Report and Recommendations of the Magistrate Judge is ADOPTED; (3) the defs' partial 56 Motion to Dismiss be and is hereby GRANTED; (4) the plf's claims for punitive damages under Title VII against defendant Megan J. Brennan in her official capacity are DISMISSED; (5) the plf's Title VII claim against USPS is DISMISSED; (6) the plf's state-law FTCA claims against Brennan and USPS are DISMISSED for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; (7) this case with respect to the plf's remaining claims is REFERRED back to the Mag Judge for further proceedings. Signed by Honorable Judge Emily C. Marks on 1/10/19. (Attachments: # 1 civil appeals checklist)(djy, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
BRITNEY B. SCONIERS,
MEGAN J. BRENNAN, et al.,
CIV. ACT. NO. 2:17cv555-ECM
MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER
Now pending before the court is the Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge
(doc. 65) which recommends that the defendants’ partial motion to dismiss (doc. 56)
be granted and that the plaintiff’s claims for punitive damages against defendant
Megan J. Brennan in her official capacity be dismissed, that the plaintiff’s Title VII
claim against defendant USPS be dismissed, and that the plaintiff’s state law FTCA
claims against defendants Brennan and USPS be dismissed for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction. (Doc. 65). On October 16, 2018, the plaintiff filed objections to the
Recommendation. (Doc. 66). The Court has carefully reviewed the record in this
case, including the Recommendation, and the plaintiff’s objections. See 28 U.S.C.
When a party objects to a Magistrate Judge’s Recommendation, the district
court must review the disputed portions of the Recommendation de novo. 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1). The district court “may accept, reject, or modify the recommended
disposition; receive further evidence; or resubmit the matter to the magistrate judge
with instructions.” FED.R.CIV.P. 72(b)(3). De novo review requires that the district
court independently consider factual issues based on the record. Jeffrey S. ex rel.
Ernest S. v. State Bd. of Educ. Of Ga., 896 F.2d 507, 513 (11th Cir. 1990). See also
United States v. Gopie, 347 F. App’x 495, 499 n. 1 (11th Cir. 2009). However,
objections to the Recommendation must be sufficiently specific in order to warrant
de novo review. See Macort v. Prem, Inc., 208 F. App’x 781, 783-85 (11th Cir.
2006). Otherwise, a Recommendation is reviewed for clear error. Id. The plaintiff’s
objections to the Recommendation lack specificity and fail to state any factual bases
for her objections. See Doc. 66. For example, “the plaintiff objects to all factual
and/or legal findings of the Magistrate Judge.”1 (Id. at 3). Thus, due to the lack of
specificity in the plaintiff’s objections, the Court reviews the Recommendation for
clear error, and finds that the plaintiff’s objections are due to be overruled.2
Relying on Martin v. United States, 439 F. App’x 842 (11th Cir. 2011) (No.
11-11140) (unpublished opinion), the plaintiff first objects to the dismissal of her
FTCA claims. She argues that her claims should not be dismissed because the claims
Rather than raise specific objections, the plaintiff asserts that she “seeks leave to amend her
complaint.” (Doc. 66 at 2, 3, & 4).
Although the plaintiff’s objections are general in nature, one objection warrants a more detailed
analysis by the Court. While the lack of specificity in the plaintiff’s objections require review
under the clear error standard, even under the more stringent de novo review, the plaintiff’s
objections are due to be overruled for the reasons set forth herein.
“would have been timely had they been filed on the date the underlying civil action
was commenced.” (Doc. 66 at 2). Her reliance on Martin is misplaced. While 28
U.S.C. § 2679(d)(5) provides a limited exception to an untimely filed FTCA claim,
that section “unquestionably includes a threshold condition, namely that there is “an
action or proceeding in which the United States is substituted as the party defendant”
that “is dismissed for failure first to present a claim” to the proper administrative
agency. § 2679(d)(5). Martin, 439 F. App'x at 845. Sconiers cannot meet this
condition because the United States has never been substituted as a defendant in this
action. Consequently, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s
Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) claims because she has failed to exhaust her
claims as required by the FTCA. See 28 U.S.C. § 2675(a). The plaintiff’s exclusive
remedy against the individual defendants is pursuant to the FTCA. See 28 U.S.C. §
2679.1 Under the FTCA, Congress waived sovereign immunity and granted consent
for the United States to be sued for acts committed by any “employee of the
Government while acting within the scope of his office or employment.” 28 U.S.C.
Title 28 U.S.C. § 2679(b)(1) provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
The remedy against the United States provided by sections 1346(b)
and 2672 of this title for injury or loss of property, or personal injury
or death arising from the negligent or wrongful act or omission of
any employee of the Government while acting within the scope of
his office or employment is exclusive of any other civil action or
proceeding for money damages by reason of the same subject matter
against the employee whose act or omission gave rise to the claim
or against the estate of such employee.
§ 1346(b)(1). However, a prerequisite to filing suit is that “[a]n action shall not be
instituted . . . unless the claimant [has] first presented the claim to the appropriate
Federal agency and [her] claim [has] been finally denied by the agency in writing
and sent by certified or registered mail.” 28 U.S.C. § 2675(a) (emphasis added). See
Turner ex rel. Turner v. United States, 514 F.3d 1194, 1200 (11th Cir. 2008). See
also Dalrymple v. United States, 460 F.3d 1318, 1324 (11th Cir. 2006); Pompey v.
Coad, 314 F. App’x 176, 179 (11th Cir. 2008) (“A claimant under the FTCA,
however, must meet certain exhaustion requirements before a federal court may
exercise jurisdiction over a suit under the FTCA, including presentation of a claim
to the appropriate agency and denial of the claim by the agency.”).
administrative prerequisite is jurisdictional and cannot be waived.
Okeechobee Hosp., 283 F.3d 1232, 1237 (11th Cir. 2002) (administrative notice
requirement is jurisdictional and not subject to waiver); Lykins v. Pointer, Inc., 725
F.2d 645, 646 (11th Cir. 1984) (same).
In her brief in response to the defendants’ motion to dismiss, the plaintiff
concedes that at the time she filed her response, she had not yet filed an
administrative claim as required by the FTCA. See Doc. 61 at 12 (“The plaintiff is
mailing the administrative claim to the USPS tomorrow.”) In her objections to the
Recommendation, she asserts that she has “presented the claim to the United States
Postal Service by certified mail.”3 (Doc. 66 at 2). Thus, it is clear that the plaintiff
had not exhausted her administrative remedies when she instituted this action, and
she cannot establish that she has satisfied the jurisdictional prerequisite for this court
to exercise jurisdiction over her FTCA claims. See Lykins, 725 F.2d at 647 (a
plaintiff must provide proof that she satisfied the jurisdictional requirements to
institute suit against the government). See also Suarez v. United States, 22 F.3d
1064, 1065 (11th Cir. 1994) (“A federal court may not exercise jurisdiction over a
suit under the FTCA unless the claimant first files an administrative claim with the
appropriate agency.”). Her objection to the dismissal of her state tort law FTCA
claims are due to be overruled.
Sconiers next objects to the dismissal of the individual defendants but she
provides the Court no legal or factual basis for her objection.4 Thus, her objection
is due to be overruled.
Sconiers also asserts that she “seeks leave to amend the complaint to add the United States as a
defendant.” It has long been the law of the Eleventh Circuit that “[w]here a request for leave to
file an amended complaint is simply imbedded within an opposition memorandum, the issue has
not been properly raised.” Cita Trust Co. AG v. Fifth Third Bank, 879 F.3d 1151, 1157 (11th Cir.
2018) quoting Rosenberg v. Gould, 554 F.3d 962, 967 (11th Cir. 2009) (quotation omitted); see
also Long, 181 F.3d at 1279–80 (holding that a plaintiff’s failure to request leave to amend
anywhere outside of her opposition to the motion to dismiss “preclude[d] the plaintiff’s argument
on appeal that the district court abused its discretion by denying her leave to amend her
complaint”)”. Sconiers has not properly moved for leave to amend her complaint, and the United
States has not been added as a party in this action.
Sconiers asserts that the individual defendants should not be dismissed because she “seeks
leave to amend the complaint to state Bivens claims against the individual defendant(s).” (Doc.
66 at 2). This is not a basis for objecting to the Recommendation, nor is it the appropriate
vehicle to move to amend the complaint. See Fn. 1, infra.
Accordingly, for the reasons as stated and for good cause, it is
ORDERED as follows that:
1. the plaintiff’s objections (doc. 66) are OVERRULED;
2. the Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge (doc. 65) is ADOPTED.
3. the defendants’ partial motion to dismiss (doc. 56) be and is hereby
4. the plaintiff’s claims for punitive damages under Title VII against
defendant Megan J. Brennan in her official capacity are DISMISSED.
5. the plaintiff’s Title VII claim against USPS is DISMISSED.
6. the plaintiff’s state-law FTCA claims against Brennan and USPS are
DISMISSED for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
7. this case with respect to the plaintiff’s remaining claims is REFERRED
BACK to the Magistrate Judge for further proceedings.
DONE this 10th day of January, 2019.
/s/ Emily C. Marks
EMILY C. MARKS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?