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Candelaria v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

September 2, 2014

NICHOLE CANDELARIA, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant United States of America's ("Government") motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (Dkt. 10). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and hereby grants the motion for the reasons stated herein.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On March 16, 2012, the Department of Navy ("Navy") terminated Nichole Candelaria's ("Candelaria") employment. Dkt. 11, Declaration of Marion J. Mittet ("Mittet Dec."), Ex. 2; Ex. 3. Following her termination, Candelaria filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel ("OSC") asserting claims under the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 ("WPA"). Mittet Dec., Ex. 4. On June 26, 2012, the OSC responded to Candelaria's complaint. Id. The OSC determined that Candelaria's allegations did not constitute a protected disclosure. Id. at 2.

On December 26, 2012, Candelaria filed an administrative tort claim with the Navy. Mittet Dec., Ex. 1. Candelaria alleged wrongful termination and retaliation, as well as negligence, gross negligence, defamation, and harassment. Id. at 6. On April 13, 2013, the Navy denied her claim. Dkt. 1 at 5.

On October 9, 2013, Candelaria filed suit against the Government. Dkt. 1. Candelaria alleges wrongful termination and retaliation for whistleblowing activities, as well as negligence, gross negligence, defamation, and harassment. Id. at 4-6. Candelaria brings these claims under Washington's Law Against Discrimination ("WLAD"), public policy of the State of Washington, Washington's Whistleblower Protection Act ("WWPA"), 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(8), and the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"). Id. at 5.

On July 23, 2014, the Government filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). Dkt. 10. On August 11, 2014, Candelaria responded. Dkt. 12. On August 15, 2014, the Government replied. Dkt. 16.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The Navy hired Candelaria as a mail and file clerk on July 6, 2010. Dkt. 1 at 2. Candelaria worked at the Manchester Fuel Depot ("Manchester"). Id. During her employment, Candelaria repeatedly expressed concerns of waste, fraud, and fiscal mismanagement at Manchester to her supervisor, Robert Cairns ("Cairns"). Id. at 2-3. Candelaria's concerns stemmed from the Navy's contract with a vendor, SAIC, Inc. Id. at 4.

On March 14, 2012, Cairns notified Candelaria that her employment would be terminated for failing to perform her duties. Mittet Dec., Ex. 3. Candelaria subsequently contacted the human resource ("HR") office and sought whistleblower protection. Dkt. 1 at 4. Candelaria was placed on administrative leave while HR investigated her allegations. Id.

On March 16, 2012, HR informed Candelaria that her allegations had been deemed unfounded. Id. Candelaria's employment was terminated that day. Mittet Dec., Ex. 2.

III. DISCUSSION

Candelaria alleges claims under the WLAD, public policy of the State of Washington, the WWPA, 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(8), and the FTCA. The Government moves to dismiss Candelaria's claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In response, Candelaria ...


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