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Mendez v. United States

June 4, 2007

ERIC MENDEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge

OPINION

This matter has come before the Court on Defendant's motion for the Court to reconsider its Order denying Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for lack of jurisdiction. For the reasons expressed below, Defendant's motion is continued, and the action will be stayed.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Eric Mendez, is an inmate at FCI Fort Dix. In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims that when he was released from a week-long stay in the Segregated Housing Unit (SHU), Bureau of Prison (BOP) officers returned only one of four bags containing his personal belongings that he checked-in prior to being admitted into SHU. Plaintiff complied with the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) by filing a notice of claim for the loss of his property. Defendant denied his claim. Plaintiff then filed his Complaint, pro se, with this Court. His claim is for $465.55.

Defendant filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(1), or in the alternative, a motion for summary judgment, claiming that a provision of the FTCA exempts it from the waiver of sovereign immunity. The Court denied Defendant's motion, holding that the FTCA does not exempt it from immunity. Defendant is now asking the Court to reconsider the denial of its motion pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(g).*fn1

DISCUSSION

As discussed in the Court's earlier Opinion, the FTCA waives the federal government's immunity from suit for certain tort claims as long as a claimant follows proper claim procedures. The Act contains exceptions to that waiver, however. See 28 U.S.C. § 2680. At issue here is § 2680(c), which provides:

The provisions of this chapter and section 1346(b) of this title shall not apply to--

(c) Any claim arising in respect of the assessment or collection of any tax or customs duty, or the detention of any goods, merchandise, or other property by any officer of customs or excise or any other law enforcement officer, except that the provisions of this chapter and section 1346(b) of this title apply to any claim based on injury or loss of goods, merchandise, or other property, while in the possession of any officer of customs or excise or any other law enforcement officer, if--

(1) the property was seized for the purpose of forfeiture under any provision of Federal law providing for the forfeiture of property other than as a sentence imposed upon conviction of a criminal offense;

(2) the interest of the claimant was not forfeited;

(3) the interest of the claimant was not remitted or mitigated (if the property was subject to forfeiture); and

(4) the claimant was not convicted of a crime for which the interest of the claimant in the property was subject to forfeiture under ...


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