RASHID MUHAMMAD v. RUPSKA et al
Entry Discussing United States' Motion for Summary Judgment - The United States' Motion for Summary Judgment, dkt. 60 , is granted. The clerk is directed to terminate the United States as a defendant on the docket. This Entry does not resolve all claims against all parties. No partial final judgment shall issue at this time as to the claims resolved in this Entry (SEE ENTRY). Copy sent to Plaintiff via US Mail. Signed by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson on 5/26/2017. (DW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TERRE HAUTE DIVISION
ABDUL-AZIZ RASHID MUHAMMAD,
A. RUPSKA Health Service Administrator
(HSA), LCDR KIMBERLY KLINK FNP)
BC/Assistant Health Service Administrator
(AHSA), ASHLEY MATCHETT Physical
Therapist (PT), LIEUTENANT
CHRISTOPHER BLILA usphs, msn, fnp-c,
HEATHER ATTERBURY Health Service
Assistant (HSAssit), KAYLA MILLER Health )
Service Assistant (HSAssit),
TIMOTHY TABOR PA-C, T. BAILEY
Medical Doctor (MD), UNITED STATES OF )
Case No. 2:15-cv-00228-JMS-MJD
Entry Discussing United States’ Motion for Summary Judgment
Abdul-Aziz Rashid Muhammad (“Muhammad”) claims that the United States is liable to
him under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) for failing to provide him appropriate medical
care while he was incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. The
United States denies this claim and on October 12, 2016, filed a motion for summary judgment
seeking dismissal of the FTCA claim on the basis Muhammad failed to exhaust his administrative
remedies prior to filing this action. Muhammad was given an extended period of time to file a
response. See dkt. 69. He did so on March 27, 2017. See dkt. 82. For the reasons explained below,
the United States’ motion for summary judgment, dkt. , is granted and the FTCA claims are
I. Standard of Review
The United States relies on a declaration outside the pleadings in support of its argument
that the FTCA claim should be dismissed. Accordingly, the United States treated its request for
dismissal as a motion for summary judgment and proceeding accordingly. See dkt 62 (notice of
pro se litigant).
Summary judgment should be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute
as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a). A “material fact” is one that “might affect the outcome of the suit.” Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party and all reasonable inferences are drawn in the non-movant’s favor. Ault v.
Speicher, 634 F.3d 942, 945 (7th Cir. 2011). “The applicable substantive law will dictate which
facts are material.” National Soffit & Escutcheons, Inc., v. Superior Systems, Inc., 98 F.3d 262,
265 (7th Cir. 1996) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).
II. Undisputed Facts
On March 16, 2015, Muhammad filed an SF-95 “Claim for Damage, Injury, or Death”
which was signed and dated by Muhammad on March 11, 2015. See Administrative Claim TRTNCR-2015-03166, Docket No. 60-1 at p 4.
On March 27, 2015, 1 Muhammad filed an amendment to his tort claim. The amendment
raised no new issues or allegations, but included attachments Muhammad forgot to attach to his
original filings. See dkt. 60-1 at 17. In a letter dated April 28, 2015, the Bureau of Prisons, Office
of Regional Counsel, specifically informed Muhammad that the agency had six months in which
The United States’ briefing states that Muhammad’s amendment was filed on April 28, 2015. See 60-1 at
p. 2. This discrepancy is not material.
to make a final deposition of his claim, such that a response to the amended administrative claim
was not due until September 27, 2015 (six months from March 27, 2015). Id.
This civil action was filed on July 27, 2015.
Muhammad’s Administrative Tort Claim was denied by the Agency on August 5, 2015.
See dkt. 60-1 at 70, denial letter for Administrative Claim TRT-NCR-2015-06109.
The United States seeks dismissal of the FTCA claims raised in this action because
Muhammad filed this action before receiving a final decision on his tort claim from the Bureau of
Prisons. In response, Muhammad argues that the regional office almost never grants a prisoner any
relief on a tort claim and for this reason exhaustion was unavailable. In addition he asserts that he
is entitled to relief on the merits of his FTCA claims.
The FTCA constitutes a limited waiver of the United States’ sovereign immunity and
allows individuals to bring an action for damages against the federal government for “personal
injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the
Government while acting within the scope of his office or employment.” 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1);
Warrum v. United States, 427 F.3d 1048, 1049 (7th Cir. 2005). The FTCA requires exhaustion of
administrative remedies before a claimant can institute legal action. Specifically, § 2675(a) states:
An action shall not be instituted upon a claim against the United States for money
damages for injury or loss of property or personal injury or death caused by the
negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government while
acting within the scope of his office or employment, unless the claimant shall
have first presented the claim to the appropriate Federal agency and his claim
shall have been finally denied by the agency in writing and sent by certified or
registered mail. The failure of an agency to make final disposition of a claim within
six months after it is filed shall, at the option of the claimant any time thereafter, be
deemed a final denial of the claim for purposes of this section.
28 U.S.C. § 2675 (emphasis added). Therefore, under § 2675, a legal action cannot be instituted
until a claimant files a claim with the appropriate federal agency and that agency has finally denied
the claim or has not processed it within six months of the filing. See Smoke Shop, LLC v. United
States, 761 F.3d 779, 786-87 (7th Cir. 2014) (affirming dismissal of FTCA claim based on
plaintiff’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies prior to filing FTCA action). This is true even
if Muhammad did not expect the agency to provide him the Ten Million Dollars he sought in his
There is no dispute that Muhammad filed his administrative tort claim notice on March 16,
2015, and that less than six months later and before the claim was denied by the agency, he filed
this civil action on July 27, 2015. Under these circumstances, Muhammad’s FTCA claim brought
in this civil action is premature and shall be dismissed without prejudice.
The United States’ Motion for Summary Judgment, dkt. , is granted. The clerk is
directed to terminate the United States as a defendant on the docket.
This Entry does not resolve all claims against all parties. No partial final judgment shall
issue at this time as to the claims resolved in this Entry.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
All Electronically Registered Counsel
ABDUL-AZIZ RASHID MUHAMMAD
Reg. No. 20017-101
ROCHESTER FEDERAL MEDICAL CENTER
P.O. BOX 4000
ROCHESTER, MN 55903
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