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Murphy v. U.S. Government

United States District Court, District of Columbia

September 23, 2014

Carol Murphy, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. Government et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

THOMAS F. HOGAN, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on its initial review of plaintiff's pro se complaint and application to proceed in forma pauperis. The Court will grant plaintiff's application and dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3) (requiring the court to dismiss an action "at any time" it determines that subject matter jurisdiction is wanting).

Plaintiff is a resident of New Sharon, Maine. She sues the United States and the State of Maine, including two of its departments, for monetary damages. The prolix complaint appears to stem from various criminal and civil court proceedings in Maine. See Compl. at 3-9.

Under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, the United States is subject to suit only upon consent, which must be clear and unequivocal. United States v. Mitchell, 445 U.S. 535, 538 (1980) (citation omitted); see Lane v. Pena, 518 U.S. 187, 192 (1996) (the United States may be sued only upon consent "unequivocally expressed in statutory text[.]"). The Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671-80, provides a limited waiver of the sovereign's immunity for money damages "under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred." Id., § 1346(b)(1). To the extent that the complaint presents a potential claim under the FTCA, jurisdiction is wanting because plaintiff has not indicated that she has exhausted her administrative remedies by "first present[ing] the claim to the appropriate Federal agency...., " 28 U.S.C. § 2675, and this exhaustion requirement is jurisdictional. See Abdurrahman v. Engstrom, 168 Fed.Appx. 445, 445 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (per curiam) (affirming the district court's dismissal of unexhausted FTCA claim "for lack of subject matter jurisdiction"); accord Simpkins v. District of Columbia Gov't, 108 F.3d 366, 371 (D.C. Cir. 2007).

Similarly, the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution immunizes a state from suit in federal court, unless immunity is waived.[1] It is long established that this amendment applies equally to suits brought by citizens against their own states. See Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 662-63 (1974); Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 13-15 (1890). The complaint reveals no such waiver. Hence, this case will be dismissed. A separate Order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.


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