GOINS v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
ORDER granting (3) Motion to Dismiss all claims for Lack of Jurisdiction in case 4:16-cv-00363-CDL; granting (3) Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's claims against the United States for Lack of Jurisdiction in case 4:16-cv-00364-CDL. Plaintiff's claims against Jerome Brooks in 4:16-cv-00364-CDL shall be remanded to the Municipal Court of Columbus, Georgia. Ordered by US DISTRICT JUDGE CLAY D LAND on 12/20/2016. (CCL)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
CASE NO. 4:16-CV-363 (CDL)
CASE NO. 4:16-CV-364 (CDL)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and
O R D E R
terminated from her job due to the false statements of three
coworkers and another individual.
In the first action, Goins
asserts claims for “Defamation and Libel,” alleging that two of
her Martin Army colleagues, Jessica Brooks and Andrea Taylor,
“[f]abricated a false alleged incident that resulted in [Goins]
getting terminated from Martin Army Community Hospital.”
of Removal Ex. A, Compl. 1, ECF No. 1-1 in 4:16-cv-363.
second action, Goins asserts claims for “Defamation and Libel,”
Smizawski, “reported false and malicious incidents that resulted
Notice of Removal Ex. A, Compl. 1, ECF No. 1-1 in
Jerome Brooks, who is not alleged to be a colleague of Goins,
wrote a letter containing “malicious and false” information that
resulted in Goins’s termination from Martin Army.
The United States of America removed both actions to this
Brooks, Andrea Taylor, and Melanie Smizawski were acting in the
scope of their employment when the alleged acts that gave rise
to the actions occurred.
Certification of Scope of Employment,
Defendant in both actions under 28 U.S.C. § 2679(d).
States is now the sole Defendant in 4:16-cv-363, and the United
States was substituted as Defendant for Smizawski in 4:16-cv364.
Jerome Brooks remains a Defendant in 4:16-cv-364.
did not respond to the Government’s motions to dismiss and did
certifications of scope of employment were improper.
The United States now seeks dismissal of Goins’s claims
against it for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
States “is immune from suit unless it consents to be sued.”
Zelaya v. United States, 781 F.3d 1315, 1321 (11th Cir. 2015).
Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, the United States has waived
28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1).
But “[i]f there is no specific waiver
of sovereign immunity as to a particular claim filed against the
Government, the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the
Zelaya, 781 F.3d at 1322.
Exceptions to the Federal
Tort Claims Act are “‘strictly construed in favor of the United
States,’ and when an exception applies to neutralize what would
otherwise be a waiver of immunity, a court will lack subject
Acquisitions, LP v. United States ex rel. FDIC, 224 F.3d 1260,
1263–64 (11th Cir.2000)).
28 U.S.C. § 2680 “lists exceptions to the United States’
waiver of sovereign immunity.” Id. at 1323.
28 U.S.C. § 2680(h)
One such exception
sovereign immunity shall not apply to any claims arising out of
libel and slander).
Here, Goins asserts “Defamation and Libel”
claims, contending that three of her federal employee coworkers
fabricated allegations that resulted in her termination.
Goins’s claims based on the conduct of Jessica Brooks, Andrea
Taylor, and Melanie Smizawski are in the nature of libel and
slander claims against the United States.
Because the United
States did not waive sovereign immunity for such claims, Goins’s
claims against the United States in both actions are “subject to
dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”
Donahoe, 626 F. App'x 926, 930 (11th Cir. 2015) (dismissing, for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction, a postal employee’s libel
coworkers’ statements that led to his discipline).
reasons, the Court grants the Government’s Motions to Dismiss
(ECF No. 3 in 4:16-cv-363, ECF No. 3 in 4:16-cv-364).
claims against the United States in both actions are dismissed.
No claims remain pending in 4:16-cv-363.
Goins’s claims against Jerome Brooks remain pending.
Complaint in 4:16-cv-364, Goins asserts state law defamation and
libel claims against Jerome Brooks, seeking $15,000 in damages.
Goins alleges that Jerome Brooks is a Georgia resident.
on the face of the Complaint, Goins does not assert any claims
that arise under federal law, and she does not allege any facts
28 U.S.C. § 1332.
The Court directs the Clerk to remand civil
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 20th day of December, 2016.
S/Clay D. Land
CLAY D. LAND
CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
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