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Cooper v. Providence Health Care Foundation

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

April 13, 2017

ROBERT COOPER, Plaintiff,
v.
PROVIDENCE HEALTH CARE FOUNDATION d/b/a/ PROVIDENCE CENTRALIA HOSPITAL, and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          ROBERT J. BRYAN United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on the United States' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction. Dkt. 9. The Court has considered the motion and record, and is fully advised.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On January 18, 2017, Plaintiff filed this case in Lewis County, Washington Superior Court, asserting negligence claims against Providence Health Care Foundation d/b/a Providence Centralia Hospital and Lewis County Community Health Services d/b/a Valley View Health Center in connection with medical care he received. Dkt. 1-1, at 2-4. He seeks damages and costs. Id. Defendant Lewis County Community Health Services d/b/a Valley View Health Center removed the case to this Court. Dkt. 1.

         In accord with 28 U.S.C. § 2679(d)(1), the United States' Motion to Substitute the United States in place of Lewis County Community Health Services d/b/a Valley View Health Center was granted and the caption was ordered amended. Dkt. 7.

         On March 14, 2017, the United States filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Dkt. 9. It argues that the case against the United States should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) because Plaintiff failed to file an administrative claim as required under the Federal Torts Claims Act (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 2675 (a), and so this Court does not have jurisdiction to consider the claims. Id. The motion to dismiss was noted for consideration on April 7, 2017. Id. Plaintiff did not timely respond.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. STANDARD ON MOTION TO DISMISS

         Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b), a party may assert the following defenses in a motion to dismiss: “(1) lack of subject matter jurisdiction; (2) lack of personal jurisdiction; (3) improper venue; (4) insufficient process; (5) insufficient service of process; (6) failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; and (7) failure to join a party under Rule 19.” Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 (b)(1), a complaint must be dismissed if, considering the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the action: (1) does not arise under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States, or does not fall within one of the other enumerated categories of Article III, Section 2, of the Constitution; (2) is not a case or controversy within the meaning of the Constitution; or (3) is not one described by any jurisdictional statute. Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 198 (1962); D.G. Rung Indus., Inc. v. Tinnerman, 626 F.Supp. 1062, 1063 (W.D. Wash. 1986); see 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 (federal question jurisdiction) and 1346 (United States as a defendant). When considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), the court is not restricted to the face of the pleadings, but may review any evidence to resolve factual disputes concerning the existence of jurisdiction. McCarthy v. United States, 850 F.2d 558, 560 (9th Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1052 (1989); Biotics Research Corp. v. Heckler, 710 F.2d 1375, 1379 (9th Cir. 1983). A federal court is presumed to lack subject matter jurisdiction until plaintiff establishes otherwise. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375 (1994); Stock West, Inc. v. Confederated Tribes, 873 F.2d 1221, 1225 (9th Cir. 1989). Therefore, plaintiff bears the burden of proving the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. Stock West, 873 F.2d at 1225; Thornhill Publishing Co., Inc. v. Gen'l Tel & Elect. Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9thCir. 1979).

         B. FAILURE TO FILE AN ADMINISTRATIVE CLAIM

         The United States, as sovereign, is immune from suit unless it consents to be sued. See United States v. Mitchell, 445 U.S. 535, 538 (1980); Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1107 (9th Cir. 1995). If a claim does not fall squarely within the strict terms of a waiver of sovereign immunity, a district court is without subject matter jurisdiction. See, e.g., Mundy v. United States, 983 F.2d 950, 952 (9th Cir. 1993).

         The FTCA is the exclusive remedy for state law torts committed by federal employees within the scope of their employment. 28 U.S.C. § 2679(b)(1). The FTCA is a limited waiver of sovereign immunity, rendering the United States liable for certain torts of federal employees. See 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2675(a),

An action shall not be instituted upon a claim against the United States for money damages for injury or loss of property or personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government while acting within the scope of his office or employment, unless the claimant shall have first presented the claim to the appropriate Federal agency and his claim shall have been finally denied by the agency in writing and sent by certified or registered mail. . .

         “[T]he administrative claim requirements of Section 2675(a) are jurisdictional in nature, and thus must be strictly adhered to.” Jerves v. ...


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