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McDaniel v. Archuleta

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

November 6, 2014

REGINALD D. McDANIEL, Plaintiff,
v.
KATHERINE ARCHULETA, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

R. DAVID PROCTOR, District Judge.

This case arises out of attorney Reginald McDaniel's 2009 efforts to be selected as an Administrative Law Judge. This matter is before the court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment. (Doc. # 4). The Motion has been fully briefed. (Docs. # 5, 12 and 13). For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's Motion is due to be granted.

I. Background

In November 2009, Plaintiff Reginald McDaniel submitted an application for an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") vacancy. (Doc. # 1 at & 6). During the application process, Defendant failed to notify Plaintiff that he had passed the initial steps. (Doc. # 1 at & 7). Defendant further failed to notify Plaintiff of the scheduling of an oral and written examination phase of the application process, thereby causing Plaintiff to miss the examination. ( Id. ) He was thereafter denied an ALJ position. ( Id. ).

Based on these events, Plaintiff filed a negligence claim against Defendant under the Federal Tort Claim Act alleging that Defendant's conduct was "wrongful and negligent." (Doc. # 1 at & 11). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant has admitted its negligence in this regard. (Doc. # 1 at & 9).[1]

II. Standard of Review

In most instances, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that a complaint provide "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Nevertheless, to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). The complaint must include enough facts "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Pleadings that contain nothing more than "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" do not meet Rule 8 standards, nor do pleadings suffice that are based merely upon "labels or conclusions" or "naked assertion[s]" without supporting factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557. To be plausible on its face, the claim must contain enough facts that "allow [] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.

The court must construe pleadings broadly and resolve inferences in a plaintiff's favor. Levine v. World Fin. Network Nat'l Bank, 437 F.3d 1118, 1120 (11th Cir. 2006). However, the court need not accept inferences that are unsupported by the facts asserted in the complaint. Snow v. DirecTV, Inc., 450 F.3d 1314, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006). Ultimately, the well-pleaded complaint must present a reasonable inference from the facts it alleges that show a defendant is liable. Reese v. Ellis, Painter, Ratterree & Adams, LLP, 678 F.3d 1211, 1215 (11th Cir. 2012). To survive Counter-Defendants' Motion, the allegations of Plaintiffs' second amended counterclaim must permit the court based on its "judicial experience and common sense... to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.

Defendant has also challenged this court's jurisdiction to hear Plaintiff's claims. Challenges to subject-matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure can exist in two substantially different forms: facial attacks and factual attacks. Sinaltrainal v. Coca-Cola Co., 578 F.3d 1252, 1260 (11th Cir. 2009). When presented with a facial attack on the complaint, the court determines whether the complaint has sufficiently alleged subject-matter jurisdiction. Sinaltrainal, 578 F.3d at 1260. The court proceeds as if it were evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion; that is, it views the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accepts all well-pled facts alleged in the complaint as true. Id.

III. Analysis

Defendant argues that Plaintiff's Complaint should be dismissed for three separate reasons: (1) Plaintiff failed to make an administrative claim under the FTCA, a prerequisite to filing suit; (2) Plaintiff's claim is preempted by the Civil Service Reform Act; and (3) Plaintiff failed to name the proper Defendant under the FTCA. As noted below, the court cannot properly evaluate Defendant's first argument because it relies upon evidentiary matters outside the pleadings. Defendant's second and third arguments, however, are properly evaluated under Rule 12(b)(6).

A. Did Plaintiff Make A Claim Under the FTCA?

As to the question of whether Plaintiff made a proper administrative claim under the FTCA, Plaintiff has both pleaded and presented evidence that he submitted such a claim. (Docs. # 1-1, 12-1). On the other hand, Defendant has presented an affidavit stating that the person responsible for maintaining the records regarding claims filed against the OPM under the FTCA made a search for a claim filed by Plaintiff but did not find one in the OPM's files. (Doc. # 6-2).

"If matters outside the pleadings are presented by the parties and considered by the district court, the Rule 12(b)(6) motion must be converted into a [Fed.R.Civ.P.] 56 summary judgment motion." Speaker v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs. Ctrs. for Disease Control & Prevention, 623 F.3d 1371, 1379 (11th Cir. 2010); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Nevertheless, "[i]n ruling upon a motion to dismiss, the district court may consider an extrinsic document if it is (1) central to the plaintiff's claim, and (2) its authenticity is not challenged." Speaker, 623 F.3d at 1379 (quotation omitted; emphasis added). However, "in adjudicating a motion to dismiss, the district court may not resolve factual disputes ." Page v. Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer of U.S. Postal Service, 493 Fed.Appx. 994, 995-96 (11th Cir. 2012) (citing Chappell v. Goltsman, 186 F.2d 215, ...


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