United States District Court, District of Columbia
TERENCE T. SEAWRIGHT, Plaintiff,
POSTMASTER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
G. Sullivan United States District Judge
se plaintiff Terence Seawright (“Mr.
Seawright”) brings several claims against the
Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service
(“USPS”), including (but not limited to) fraud,
false claims, defamation, false statements, and concealment.
He alleges that several management-level USPS employees used
his name without his knowledge or permission to terminate
another employee. Pending before the Court is USPS'
motion to dismiss Mr. Seawright's complaint for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. The
Court has carefully considered USPS' motion, Mr.
Seawright's response, USPS' reply thereto, the
applicable law, and the entire record herein. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court finds that it lacks jurisdiction
over Mr. Seawright's claims and
DISMISSES his complaint.
Seawright alleges that several USPS managers “submitted
a statement using [his] name without his knowledge or
permission, trying to use [him] to help management terminate
[another USPS employee].” Compl., ECF No. 1 at
According to Mr. Seawright, this “false
statement” affected him and caused “great hard
ship [sic]” for the terminated USPS employee and his
family. Id. Without going into specifics, Mr.
Seawright also alleges that this incident was “not the
first time management has made false statements to
financially inconvenience an employee, ” as it was
“also done to [him] without just cause.”
Id. at 1-2. To support his allegations, Mr.
Seawright includes USPS paperwork from February 2013,
notifying him that he was to be “placed in an off duty
(without pay) status, ” and other documents resulting
from that notification. Ex. 1, ECF No. 1-1. He also includes
letters from other USPS employees confirming that Mr.
Seawright's name was used without his permission to
terminate another employee. Ex. 2, ECF No. 1-1.
Seawright brings several claims against USPS including:
“fraud, knowingly and willfully, false claims, punitive
damages, mental anguish, defamation of character, pain and
suffering, false statements as to future actions, false
statements and venue, false statement, concealment, false
statement, concealment-failure to disclose, malicious malice,
perjury, misrepresent [sic], conspiracy, falsity, breach of
contract.” Id. at 2. He seeks more than $350,
000 in damages. Id.
2018, USPS moved to dismiss Mr. Seawright's complaint for
lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. The motion
is now ripe.
Standard of Review
“pro se complaint is entitled to liberal
construction.” Washington v. Geren, 675
F.Supp.2d 26, 31 (D.D.C. 2009) (citing Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)). However, “[a]
federal district court may only hear a claim over which it
has subject-matter jurisdiction; therefore, a [Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure] 12(b)(1) motion for dismissal is a
threshold challenge to a court's jurisdiction.”
Gregorio v. Hoover, 238 F.Supp.3d 37, 44 (D.D.C.
2017) (citations and quotations omitted). To survive a Rule
12(b)(1) motion, the plaintiff bears the burden of
establishing that the court has jurisdiction by a
preponderance of the evidence. Lujan v. Defenders of
Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992). “Because Rule
12(b)(1) concerns a court's ability to hear a particular
claim, the court must scrutinize the plaintiff's
allegations more closely . . . than it would under a motion
to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).” Schmidt v.
U.S. Capitol Police Bd., 826 F.Supp.2d 59, 65 (D.D.C.
2011)(internal citations omitted). In reviewing a motion to
dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), the court “may
consider materials outside the pleadings” in
determining whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case.
Jerome Stevens Pharm., Inc. v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249,
1253 (D.C. Cir. 2005). The court must also accept as true all
of the factual allegations in the complaint and draw all
reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff, but the
court need not “accept inferences unsupported by the
facts alleged or legal conclusions that are cast as factual
allegations.” Rann v. Chao, 154 F.Supp.2d 61,
64 (D.D.C. 2001).
argues that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over
Mr. Seawright's claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) because Mr. Seawright failed to exhaust
his administrative remedies and because the government has
not waived sovereign immunity for the claims that Mr.
Seawright brings. See Def.'s Mot., ECF No. 5 at
5-12. USPS also argues that Mr. Seawright's claims should
be dismissed because he failed to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). See Id. at 12-16. Mr. Seawright
opposes the motion, arguing that he pled claims “for
false statement, concealment, and fraud.” See
Pl.'s Opp'n, ECF No. 7 at 4.
argues that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over
Mr. Seawright's claims because Mr. Seawright failed to
exhaust his administrative remedies by filing a claim under
the Federal Tort Claim Act (“FTCA”). Def.'s
Mot., ECF No. 5 at 7-12. Indeed, Mr. Seawright brings tort
claims against USPS and seeks money damages. See
Compl., ECF No. 1 at 2 (“seeking $350, 000 in damages
per person, ” the $400 filing fee, and “damages
assessed for all laws broken”). “Because
plaintiff demands money damages from a federal government
agency, he must proceed under the [FTCA], which operates as a
waiver of the government's sovereign immunity for certain
tort claims.” Edwards v. U.S. Park Police, 251
F.Supp.3d 109, 111 (D.D.C. 2017) (citing Richards v.
United States, 369 U.S. 1, 6 (1962)).
FTCA provides that an action shall not be instituted upon a
claim against the United States for money damages unless the
claimant has first exhausted [his] administrative
remedies.” McNeil v. United States, 508 US.
106, 107 (1993)(citing 28 U.S.C. § 2675(a)). Indeed,
“[a] tort claim against the United States shall be
forever barred unless it is presented in writing to the
appropriate Federal agency within two years after such claim
accrues or unless action is begun within six months after the
date of mailing . . . of notice of final denial of the claim
by the agency to which it was presented.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2401(b); see also Mittleman v. United States,
104 F.3d 410, 413 (D.C. Cir. 1997)(“[T]he FTCA requires
that claims be presented to the agency in question . . . .
[a] claim not so presented and filed is forever
exhaust administrative remedies under the FTCA, “the
claimant shall have first presented the claim to the
appropriate [f]ederal agency and his claim shall have been
finally denied by the agency in writing and sent by certified
or registered mail.” 28 U.S.C. § 2675(a).
“In this Circuit, a claim is considered adequately
presented when a claimant provides the agency with ‘(1)
a written statement sufficiently describing the injury to
enable the agency to begin its own investigation, and (2) a
sum-certain damages claim.'” Tookes v. United
States, 811 F.Supp.2d 322, 331 (D.D.C. 2011)(quoting
GAF Corp. v. United States,818 F.2d 901, 905 (D.C.
Cir. 1987)). The rationale for this “jurisdictional
prerequisite, ” GAF Corp., 818 F.2d at 904, is
that “[n]otice of an injury will enable ...