United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY United States District Judge.
consolidated cases emerge from alleged medical malpractice by
agents of the United States with respect to Plaintiff L.C.H.,
a minor, that are connected to events in the earliest years
of L.C.H.'s life. Plaintiffs L.C.H. and his father Larry
Hagan seek damages as result of those events under the
Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"). Before the Court
is Defendant's  Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, for Summary Judgment. Defendant now argues that
the claims brought by Plaintiffs L.C.H. and Hagan are
untimely. The Court concludes that it is not now proper to
dismiss the claims based on the statute of limitations at
this stage of the proceedings and based on the current
record. Upon consideration of the pleadings,  the relevant
legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court
DENIES Defendant's  Motion to Dismiss, or in the
Alternative for Summary Judgment. With respect to the motion
to dismiss, the Court concludes that dismissal is not
warranted because it is not clear from the face of the
complaint that Plaintiffs have failed to comply with the
statute of limitations. With respect to the motion for
summary judgment, the Court concludes that the motion is
premature because the parties have not yet had an opportunity
to take discovery and because it appears that there are
disputed facts in the record. For these reasons and for the
reasons stated further below, the Motion to Dismiss is DENIED
WITH PREJUDICE and the Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED
the issues presented in the motion now before the Court and
the Court's resolution of that motion, the Court presents
here the statutory and procedural background of this case,
reserving presentation of any relevant factual background for
the discussion of the individual issues below.
Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA") "waives the
United States's sovereign immunity from tort claims and,
subject to exceptions, renders the United States liable in
tort as if it were a private person." Gross v.
United States, 771 F.3d 10, 12 (D.C. Cir. 2014),
cert, denied, 135 S.Ct. 1746 (2015). The Act further
"provides that a tort claim against the United States
'shall be forever barred' unless it is presented to
the 'appropriate Federal agency within two years after
such claim accrues' and then brought to federal court
'within six months' after the agency acts on the
claim." United States v. KwaiFun Wong,
135 S.Ct. 1625, 1629 (2015) (quoting 28 U.S.C. §
2401(b)). In Kwai Fun Wong, the Supreme Court
clarified that these deadlines were not jurisdictional.
Id. Instead, as the Supreme Court explained,
"The time limits in the FTCA are just time limits,
nothing more." Id. at 1633. Therefore, these
time limits are subject to equitable tolling. Id.
("Even though [the time limits] govern litigation
against the Government, a court can toll them on equitable
23, 2010, Plaintiffs L.C.H., by his father and next friend,
Larry Hagan, and Hagan himself filed administrative claims
with certain departments of the United States Government
regarding the medical care that L.C.H. had received.
Plaintiffs filed this action on June 6, 2012, after the
Government had failed to respond to those claims. Defendant
then moved to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1), arguing that the court did not have subject matter
jurisdiction because Plaintiffs had not filed a timely
administrative claim. Defendant argued that the filing
timelines in 28 U.S.C. § 2401(b) were jurisdictional and
that Plaintiffs had failed to comply with the jurisdictional
prerequisites for this action.
resolving that motion, the court concluded that the filing
deadlines in section 2401(b) were jurisdictional and granted
the motion to dismiss. See Memorandum Opinion, dated
Dec. 14, 2012 ("Mem. Opinion"), ECF No. 21, at 6-7.
The court noted that it is the burden of the party invoking
the court's jurisdiction to establish subject matter
jurisdiction and that, under Rule 12(b)(1), the court may
consider materials outside the pleadings. Id. at 5;
see also Coal, for Underground Expansion v. Mineta,
333 F.3d 193, 198 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (on a motion under Rule
12(b)(1), "where necessary, the court may consider the
complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the
record, or the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts
plus the court's resolution of disputed facts").
After a thorough examination of the record, including an
examination of the medical records submitted, the court
concluded that the injury underlying the case had occurred in
September 2007 and that the claims at issue had, therefore,
accrued at that time. Because the court concluded that the
statute of limitations in section 2401(b) was jurisdictional,
there was no occasion to consider other responses to
Defendant's statute of limitations argument, such as
equitable tolling. See Mem. Op. at 6-7; see also Kwai Fun
Wong, 135 S.Ct. at 1631 (citing John R. Sand &
Gravel Co. v. United States, 552 U.S. 130, 133-134
(2008) (equitable factors cannot be considered if statute of
limitations is jurisdictional). Therefore, the court
concluded that the administrative complaint filed in July,
2010, had not been filed within two years of the accrual of
the claims in this case. Based on this analysis, the court
dismissed the case for want of subject matter jurisdiction.
appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia Circuit ("D.C. Circuit").
See Hagan v. United States, D.C. Cir. No. 13-5048,
Doc. No. 1461959. While the appeal was pending, the United
States Supreme Court issued Kwai Fun Wong, discussed
above, holding that section 2401(b) is no? jurisdictional and
that equitable tolling is available under the FTCA. See
Kwai Fun Wong, 135 S.Ct. at 1629, 1633. The parties
agreed that the case should be remanded to this Court,
although they did not agree on the precise action the D.C.
Circuit should take. Upon consideration of the parties'
requests, the D.C. Circuit "ORDERED that the district
court's order issued December 14, 2012 dismissing the
case for lack of jurisdiction, be vacated and the case
remanded to the district court for further proceedings
consistent with the Supreme Court's opinion in United
States v. Kwai Fun Wong, 135 S.Ct. 1625 (2015)."
Order dated Sept. 10, 2015, Hagan v. United States, D.C. Cir.
No. 13-5048 (formatting in original). The D.C. Circuit did
not provide any further instructions regarding the remand to
the district court.
the case was remanded to this Court, the Court ordered the
parties to file a Joint Status Report regarding future
proceedings in this consolidated action. Order, dated Dec.
14, 2015, ECF No. 30. At the parties' request, the Court
subsequently entered a briefing schedule for Defendant's
planned renewed motion to dismiss. Minute Order, dated
January 19, 2016; see also Joint Status Report,
dated Jan. 14., 2016, ECF No. 33. The Court notes that the
parties did not reference any plans to file motions for
summary judgment on the current record. Defendant then filed
the pending motion according to the approved schedule. As
noted above, Defendant moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)
for failure to state a claim and, in the alternative, for
summary judgment; the motion is based solely on
Defendant's argument that Plaintiffs did not comply with
the statute of limitations in section 2401(b). See
generally Def.'s Mot. Plaintiffs opposed that
motion, arguing that the motion should be denied based on the
present record and that, if the Court were to find the
present record inadequate to deny the motions, the Court
should allow discovery before definitively resolving issues
pertaining to the statute of limitations.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may move
to dismiss a complaint on the grounds that it "fail[s]
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). "[A] complaint [does not] suffice
if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of
'further factual enhancement.' "Ashcrvft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)). Rather, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations that,
if accepted as true, "state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
judgment is appropriate where "the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and [that
it] ... is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The mere existence of some factual
dispute is insufficient on its own to bar summary judgment;
the dispute must pertain to a "material" fact.
Id. Accordingly, "[o]nly disputes over facts
that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.
"Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
248 (1986). Nor may summary judgment be avoided based on just
any disagreement as to the relevant facts; the dispute ...