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Merkulov v. United States Park Police

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

December 1, 2014

OLEG MERKULOV, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES PARK POLICE, Defendant

Oleg Merkulov, Plaintiff, Pro se, Washington , DC.

For U.S. Park Police, Defendant: Jodi T. George, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC USA.

Page 127

MEMORANDUM OPINION

BERYL A. HOWELL, United States District Judge.

The plaintiff, Oleg Merkulov, proceeding pro se, filed a negligence claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (" FTCA" ) against the United States Park Police (" USPP" ) in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1. Subsequently, the defendant removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1442, which allows for removal to Federal court for cases brought against the United States or any of its agencies or officers. See id.; 28 U.S.C. § 1442. Following removal, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 4. For the reasons explained below, the Court finds that the doctrine of derivative jurisdiction deprives this Court of jurisdiction to hear the present dispute. Accordingly, the defendant's motion is granted and this action is dismissed.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On the morning of May 19, 2013, the plaintiff drove his passenger-occupied taxicab to the corner of 14th street and Madison Drive Northwest in Washington, D.C. Notice of Removal, Ex. A, at 9. The plaintiff waited at a green signal light because heavy traffic blocked his lane and once the light turned red, his passengers exited. Id. Thereafter, a USPP officer stopped the plaintiff and inquired about the status of his meter, as the plaintiff's taxicab was furnished with a green inspection sticker. The officer commented that the " Green seal means that you were stopped by the [D.C. Taxicab Commission] and the meter was not working properly." Id. As a result, the officer removed the sticker from the plaintiff's taxicab and ticketed him for: (1) failure to pull to the curb; (2) violation of a no stopping no standing sign; and (3) for operating a taxicab with a non-functional meter. Id. The total fine was $1,125. Id.

The plaintiff maintained a green seal instead of the usually required red seal as a result of D.C. Taxicab Commission (" DCTC" ) Emergency Green Seals Memorandum, which permitted green seals to be temporarily used by taxicabs until new red seals were available. Id. at 21. The DCTC memorandum required green seals to " be replaced within 24 hours once reds seals are available." Id. at 21. Despite issuing a ticket, the USPP officer failed to submit a copy of the notice of infraction to the Department of Motor Vehicle (" DMV" ) within the required time period. As a result, the DMV dismissed the plaintiff's tickets. Id. at 15.

Despite dismissal of the ticket, the removal of the taxicab's seal resulted in the plaintiff missing two days of work, paying for a subsequent meter inspection, and paying for a replacement rental taxicab. Id. at 9. Accordingly, the plaintiff sought administrative relief from the Solicitor's Office at the Department of the Interior (" DOI" ). The requested relief--payment

Page 128

of $667.19 in damages resulting from the lost wages, inspection fees, and rental car fees--was denied, as was the plaintiff's motion for reconsideration. Id. at 21-27. The DOI determined that there was " no credible evidence to establish any negligent or wrongful act or omission on part of the Government" to warrant payment of the claim. Id. at 23. Following the dismissal of his claims, the plaintiff filed suit against the USPP in D.C. Superior Court alleging negligence by the police officer in removing the seal from the plaintiff's taxicab. Notice of Removal. The defendant removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1442, since the suit was brought against the USPP, a federal agency. Id.

Now pending before the Court is the defendant's motion to dismiss for the lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

" 'Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction,' possessing 'only that power authorized by Constitution and statute.'" Gunn v. Minton, 133 S.Ct. 1059, 1064, 185 L.Ed.2d 72 (2013) (quoting Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994)). Indeed, Federal courts are " forbidden . . . from acting beyond our authority," NetworkIP, LLC v. FCC, 548 F.3d 116, 120, 383 U.S.App.D.C. 310 (D.C. Cir. 2008), and, therefore, have " an affirmative obligation 'to consider whether the constitutional and statutory authority exist for us to hear each dispute.'" James Madison Ltd. by Hecht v. Ludwig, 82 F.3d 1085, 1092, 317 U.S.App.D.C. 281 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (quoting Herbert v. National Academy of Sciences, 974 F.2d 192, 196, 297 U.S.App.D.C. 406 (D.C. Cir. 1992)). ...


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