The opinion of the court was delivered by: Emmet G. Sullivan United States District Judge
This case is before the Court on defendant the United States of America's Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff Daniel Mjema filed a complaint on July 7, 2011, alleging that he was injured when United States Postal Service ("USPS") employee Janet Binger acted negligently in operating her motor vehicle during the course of her employment. Defendant moved to dismiss, arguing that plaintiff's failure to file an administrative complaint within two years of the accrual of his claim as required by the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA") deprived this Court of subject matter jurisdiction. Upon consideration of defendant's motion, the response and reply thereto, the applicable law, the entire record, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court hereby GRANTS defendant's motion to dismiss.
On December 15, 2005, plaintiff and Ms. Binger were involved in an automobile accident in Bedford, Virginia. Compl. ¶¶ 5-8. Plaintiff alleges that the accident was caused by the negligence of Ms. Binger, who was at all times acting within the scope of her employment for the United States Postal Service. Id. ¶¶ 7-9.
On October 15, 2007, plaintiff filed an action against Ms. Binger in the Circuit Court for Bedford County, Virginia. Pl.'s Opp. to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss ("Pl.'s Opp.") at 3. On August 27, 2009, the USPS sent a letter to plaintiff's counsel stating that Ms. Binger had been acting within the course and scope of her federal employment as a rural mail carrier on December 15, 2005 and that, accordingly, the FTCA applied to plaintiff's case. Pl.'s Opp. Ex. 1 at 1. The USPS stated that the FTCA required plaintiff to file a claim with the USPS within 2 years of the alleged tort. Id. at 2. The USPS further stated that the FTCA required plaintiff to name the United States, rather than Ms. Binger, as defendant in the action. Id. at 2 (citing
28 U.S.C. §§ 2675, 2679). Because plaintiff had failed to do either of these things, the USPS argued, plaintiff's suit was subject to dismissal. Id. The USPS requested that plaintiff voluntarily dismiss the suit "or [the USPS] will be required to remove the matter to federal court." Pl.'s Opp. Ex. 1 at 3.
Following his receipt of the USPS letter, nearly four years after the alleged tort, plaintiff provided notice of his claim to the USPS on November 13, 2009.*fn1 Compl. ¶ 12. Plaintiff then voluntarily dismissed the Virginia state court action on November 30, 2009. Pl.'s Opp. at 3. On July 7, 2011, plaintiff commenced this action.
To survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1), a plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that the court has subject-matter jurisdiction to hear his claims. See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992); U.S. Ecology, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Interior, 231 F.3d 20, 24 (D.C. Cir. 2000). A court has an "affirmative obligation to ensure that it is acting within the scope of its jurisdictional authority." Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police v. Ashcroft, 185 F. Supp. 2d 9, 13 (D.D.C. 2001). "For this reason 'the [p]laintiff's factual allegations in the complaint . . . will bear closer scrutiny in resolving a 12(b)(1) motion' than in resolving a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim." Id. at 13-14 (quoting 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1350 (2d ed. 1987)). Additionally, unlike with a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court "may consider materials outside the pleadings in deciding whether to grant a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction." Jerome Stevens Pharms., Inc. v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C. Cir. 2005); see Herbert v. Nat'l Acad. of Sciences, 974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C. Cir. 1992) (holding that on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), a court may consider the facts alleged in the complaint, supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record, and disputed facts in the record that have been resolved by the district court).
2. Federal Tort Claims Act
The FTCA, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 1402(b), 2401(b) and 2671- 80, waives the United States' sovereign immunity with regard to certain types of tort claims and is the exclusive remedy in personal injury cases arising from the negligence of federal employees acting within the scope of their employment. 28 U.S.C. § 2679(b)(1). The Act requires plaintiffs to exhaust their administrative remedies by first presenting their claims to the appropriate federal agency before instituting a civil action. Specifically, it states that:
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 ...