United States District Court, District of Columbia
TIMOTHY J. KELLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jeffrey Jones, a United States Capitol Police
(“USCP”) officer, has brought suit under the
Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C.
§ 1346(b), against the United States for alleged
injuries he suffered when a retired officer allegedly
approached him from behind and grabbed him around the neck.
Before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction, ECF No. 14
(“MTD”), and Jones' motion to file a second
amended complaint to add his wife as an additional plaintiff,
ECF No. 17 (“Mot. to Amend”). For the reasons
stated below, the Court will grant Defendant's motion and
deny Jones' motion.
is a police officer assigned to the House Division of the
USCP. ECF No. 13 (“Am. Compl.”) ¶¶ 6,
14. According to his amended complaint, on November 30, 2015,
retired USCP officer Julian Mitchell was allowed to enter the
House Division Operations Office. Id. ¶¶
7, 15, 20-22. While there, Mitchell was unescorted, despite a
requirement that civilians be escorted by USCP personnel at
all times. Id. ¶¶ 23-24. In addition,
Mitchell “had a reputation for grabbing other personnel
by the back of the neck” of which USCP personnel were
aware. Id. ¶ 37. After visiting a number of his
former coworkers, Mitchell entered an office where Jones was
working on a computer. Id. ¶¶ 24-25. At
the time, Jones was “on duty, in uniform wearing his
bulletproof vest, gun belt and full complement of
gear.” Id. ¶ 26. Mitchell approached
Jones from behind and, “suddenly and without notice,
forcefully grabbed and squeezed the back of [his]
neck.” Id. ¶¶ 25, 27. Jones
struggled to free himself of Mitchell's grip, the force
of which was “severe.” Id. ¶¶
27-31. When Jones broke free, he immediately felt a painful,
burning sensation in his neck. Id. ¶¶
week later, on December 7, 2015, Jones experienced
“significant pain, burning, muscle spasms and numbness,
” which prompted him to seek medical treatment.
Id. ¶ 39. Two of Jones' doctors attributed
his symptoms to “Mr. Mitchell's forceful grabbing
and squeezing of Mr. Jones' neck.” Id.
¶¶ 45-46, 56-57. Despite the treatment, Jones
continued to suffer from “persistent pain and muscle
stiffness.” Id. ¶ 46. As a result, he
incurred significant medical expenses and was unable to work
for all of 2016. Id. ¶¶ 60-61.
26, 2017, Jones filed the instant case, bringing claims
against Defendant for premises liability and negligence under
the FTCA. ECF No. 1. On October 24, Jones moved to file an
amended complaint that (1) added a claim for intentional
infliction of emotional distress and (2) joined Meredith
McMahon, his wife, as an additional plaintiff with respect to
all three tort claims levied against Defendant. ECF No. 10.
The Court granted the motion, but sua sponte
dismissed McMahon's claims for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction because she had not satisfied the FTCA's
exhaustion requirement. ECF No. 12. On February 7, 2018,
Defendant moved to dismiss the remaining claims in Jones'
amended complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on
the ground they are precluded by the Federal Employees'
Compensation Act (“FECA”), 5 U.S.C. § 8101,
et seq. See MTD; ECF No. 15 (“Opp.”);
ECF No. 16. On May 15, 2018, Jones filed a motion to file a
second amended complaint, through which he again seeks to add
McMahon as an additional plaintiff with respect to all three
tort claims. See Mot. to Amend; ECF No. 18; ECF No.
Motion to Dismiss
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. See Gen.
Motors Corp. v. EPA, 363 F.3d 442, 448 (D.C. Cir. 2004)
(“As a court of limited jurisdiction, we begin, and
end, with an examination of our jurisdiction.”). The
law presumes that “a cause lies outside [the
Court's] limited jurisdiction” unless the party
asserting jurisdiction establishes otherwise. Kokkonen v.
Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994).
On a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), “plaintiffs bear the
burden of establishing jurisdiction.” Knapp Med.
Ctr. v. Hargan, 875 F.3d 1125, 1128 (D.C. Cir. 2017).
District courts “may in appropriate cases dispose of a
motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
under [Rule] 12(b)(1) on the complaint standing alone.”
Herbert v. Natl Acad. of Scis., 974 F.2d 192, 197
(D.C. Cir. 1992). In such cases, courts must “accept
as true all of the factual allegations contained in the
complaint.” KiSKA Constr. Corp. v. WMATA, 321
F.3d 1151, 1157-58 (D.C. Cir. 2003).
Court agrees with Defendant that it lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over Jones' remaining claims, and will
well established that “the United States may not be
sued without its consent.” Webman v. Fed. Bureau of
Prisons, 441 F.3d 1022, 1025 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (quoting
United States v. Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206, 212
(1983)). Moreover, the federal government's
“‘[sovereign immunity is jurisdictional in
nature,' so a claim barred by sovereign immunity lacks
subject matter jurisdiction.” Edwards v. United
States, 211 F.Supp.3d 234, 236 (D.D.C. 2016) (quoting
FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475 (1994)). “The
federal government may waive its sovereign immunity by
statute, but that waiver ‘must be unequivocally
expressed in statutory text.'” Webman, 441
F.3d at 1025 (quoting Lane v. Peña, 518 U.S.
187, 192 (1996)). The FTCA “was designed primarily to
remove the sovereign immunity of the United States from suits
in tort.” Levin v. United States, 568 U.S.
503, 506 (2013) (quoting Richards v. United States,
369 U.S. 1, 6 (1962)). Thus, “[w]here a plaintiff seeks
money damages for torts committed by federal employees in the
course of their employment, they must rely on the waiver of
sovereign immunity found in the [FTCA].” Davis v.
United States, 973 F.Supp.2d 23, 28 (D.D.C. 2014).
carves out certain suits by federal employees from the
FTCA's sovereign-immunity waiver. It provides such
employees with an administrative process for seeking
compensation for work-related injuries. In exchange,
“‘federal employees are statutorily precluded
from bringing suits for money damages for injuries sustained
during the course of their employment,' and thus they
cannot rely on the FTCA to bring work-related tort
claims.” Johnson v. Mao, 174 F.Supp.3d 500,
522 n.14 (D.D.C. 2016) (quoting Davis, 973 F.Supp.2d
at 28). Indeed, this is made explicit in the text of
FECA's exclusivity provision, which states:
The liability of the United States . . . under [FECA] . . .
with respect to the injury or death of an employee is
exclusive and instead of all other liability of the United
States . . . to the employee, . . . ...