Irons v. United States Postal Service
ORDER DISMISSING CASE. For the reasons stated in the attached Memorandum and Order, plaintiff's complaint is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal would n ot be taken in good faith and therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for the purpose of an appeal. The Clerk of the Court is respectfully requested serve a copy of this Order on the pro se plaintiff, to note service on the docket, to enter judgment in accordance with this Order, and to close this case. Ordered by Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto on 09/21/2012. (Ravi, Sagar)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
-againstUNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE,
MATSUMOTO, United States District Judge:
On September 6, 2012, pro se plaintiff Toni Irons
(“plaintiff”) commenced this action against the United States Postal
Service (the “Postal Service” or “defendant”).
(See ECF No. 1,
The court grants plaintiff’s request to
proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 solely for
the purpose of this decision.
Having reviewed plaintiff’s
complaint, for the reasons set forth below, the complaint is
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
The instant complaint alleges that plaintiff is a victim
of forgery and mail fraud.
Specifically, plaintiff alleges that on
March 3, 2011, while she was hospitalized, the Postal Service allowed
an “individual, who had no Authority to do so,” and without
plaintiff’s permission, to put a delivery hold on her mail, to forge
plaintiff’s name, and to collect her mail.
(Compl. ¶ 3.)
further alleges the Postal Service prevented her from receiving
“documents which [contained] fraud . . . to prove my life being
corrupted, and my personal documents of birth Certificate to prove
who I am.”
Plaintiff seeks $20,000,000.00 in damages “for
pain & suffering” and “los[s] of personal documents to have a Right
(Id. ¶ 4.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), a district court shall
dismiss an in forma pauperis action if the court determines that the
action “(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim
on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against
a defendant who is immune from such relief.”
“An action is frivolous
when either: (1) the factual contentions are clearly baseless, such
as when allegations are the product of delusion or fantasy; or (2)
the claim is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory.”
Livingston v. Adirondack Beverage Co., 141 F.3d 434, 437 (2d Cir.
1998) (internal quotations marks omitted).
In reviewing the complaint, the court is mindful that “[a]
document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se
complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citations omitted) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
If “a liberal reading of the complaint
gives any indication that a valid claim might be stated,” the court
must grant leave to amend the complaint.
Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222
F.3d 99, 112 (2d Cir. 2000).
“[S]overeign immunity precludes suits against the United
States and its agencies,” including the Postal Service, “unless
Congress specifically abrogates that immunity by statute.”
v. United States Post Office, No. 11-CV-659, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
15376, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 16, 2011); see also Dolan v. U.S. Postal
Serv., 546 U.S. 481, 484 (2006) (“[T]he Postal Service enjoys federal
sovereign immunity absent a waiver.”); Adeleke v. United States, 355
F.3d 144, 150 (2d Cir. 2004) (“It is, of course, ‘axiomatic’ under
the principle of sovereign immunity ‘that the United States may not
be sued without its consent and that the existence of consent is a
prerequisite for jurisdiction.’” (quoting United States v. Mitchell,
463 U.S. 206, 212 (1983))).
Although plaintiff’s complaint fails to cite any statutory
basis for her action against the Postal Service, the Federal Tort
Claims Act (“FTCA”) is the exclusive means for recovering damages
against a federal agency for “injury or loss of property . . . arising
or resulting from the negligent or wrongful act or omission” of agency
employees acting in their official capacities.
§ 2679(b)(1); see Uzamere v. United States Postal Serv., No.
09-CV-3709, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97412, at *3-4 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 15,
“The FTCA waives the sovereign immunity of the United States
for certain torts committed by federal employees, including Postal
Service employees, within the scope of their employment.”
Mathirampuzha v. Potter, 548 F.3d 70, 80 (2d Cir. 2008) (citing Dolan,
546 U.S. at 484-85).
Congress, however, carved out explicit exceptions to this
waiver of sovereign immunity, including the “postal matter
exception,” which preserves sovereign immunity for “[a]ny claim
arising out of the loss, miscarriage, or negligent transmission of
letters or postal matter.”
28 U.S.C. § 2680(b); see Raila v. United
States, 355 F.3d 118, 119 (2d Cir. 2004).
In Dolan, the Supreme Court
found that Congress, in enacting the postal matter exception,
“intended to retain immunity, as a general rule, only for injuries
arising, directly or consequentially, because mail either fails to
arrive at all or arrives late, in damaged condition, or at the wrong
Dolan, 546 U.S. at 489.
Accordingly, to the extent that
plaintiff alleges the Postal Service was negligent in delivering,
handling, or failing to deliver plaintiff’s mail, any such claim “is
precluded by the postal matter exception and must be dismissed on
the basis of sovereign immunity.”
Bloch, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
15376, at *4 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(iii)); see also Wilber
v. United States Postal Serv., No. 10-CV-3346, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
82298, at *2-3 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 2, 2010) (dismissing complaint against
Postal Service for lack of jurisdiction pursuant to the FTCA’s postal
matter exception); Djordjevic v. Postmaster Gen., 911 F. Supp. 72,
74-75 (E.D.N.Y. 1995) (same).
Alternatively, even if sovereign immunity did not bar this
action, plaintiff’s complaint would be dismissed for failure to
exhaust administrative remedies.
The FTCA states the following:
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.
28 U.S.C. § 2675(a) (emphasis added).
In order to sue under the FTCA,
plaintiff must first exhaust her administrative remedies with the
Postal Service, a requirement that “is jurisdictional and cannot be
Celestine v. Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Ctr., 403
F.3d 76, 82 (2d Cir. 2005).
Accordingly, because there is no
indication that plaintiff filed an administrative tort claim with
the Postal Service prior to initiating this action, the court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction on this ground as well.
See Bloch, 2011
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15376, at *4-5; Djordjevic, 911 F. Supp. at 75-76.
For the reasons set forth above, plaintiff’s complaint is
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B); Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).
The Court certifies
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal would not be taken
in good faith and therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for
the purpose of an appeal.
438, 444-45 (1962).
See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S.
The Clerk of the Court is respectfully requested
serve a copy of this Order on the pro se plaintiff, to note service
on the docket, to enter judgment in accordance with this Order, and
to close this case.
September 21, 2012
Brooklyn, New York
Kiyo A. Matsumoto
United States District Judge
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