Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Eyo v. United States

November 29, 2007

JULIANA EYO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.



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

[relates to Docket Item #9]

HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE

OPINION

I. Introduction

This matter comes before the Court upon the motion of defendant, the United States of America, for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) to dismiss plaintiff Juliana Eyo's ("Eyo") claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671 et seq. Eyo filed suit on December 12, 2006, alleging false arrest and negligence by employees of the United States Postal Service ("USPS") acting within the scope of their employment and arising out of the events on or about November 14, 2005, which caused Eyo to be arrested and detained by the Burlington City Police Department ("BCPD"). The Government claims it is entitled to summary judgment based on (1) an express exception to the FTCA retaining sovereign immunity for claims arising out of false arrest and misrepresentation, and (2) statutory immunity granted to financial institutions for reporting possible violations of law under the Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act, codified at 31 U.S.C. § 5311, et seq. For the reasons set forth below, this Court shall grant this motion for summary judgment under the immunity provisions of the Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act, pursuant to 31 U.S.C. § 5318(g)(3)(A).

II. Background

For purposes of adjudicating this summary judgment motion*fn1 , the facts are viewed in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the Plaintiff as the non-moving party. See Matsushita Elec.

Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Eyo has been a resident of the United States since 1980, during which time she became a certified nurse's assistant and has never been arrested or convicted of any crime prior to November 14, 2005. (Eyo Aff., Pl.'s Ex. 1, ¶¶ 3-4.) On November 14, 2005*fn2 , Eyo attempted to cash two genuine USPS money orders in the amounts of three hundred dollars ($300.00) and one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) at the Burlington City Post Office. Eyo's cousin, Oladuti Ojo, had previously purchased the money orders at the post office in Lutherville, Maryland (Sims Decl., ¶ 6; Def.'s Ex. A, at 26) to help Eyo pay for her travel to attend her son's wedding in Nigeria (Eyo Aff., Pl.'s Ex. 1, ¶ 5; Sims Decl., ¶ 4; Def.'s Ex. A, at 26). Eyo attempted to cash those money orders on November 14, 2005 to pay for an airline ticket for a flight to Nigeria that same night (Sims Decl., ¶ 4). What followed was a series of unfortunate misunderstandings by employees of the USPS.

Eyo produced the money orders to USPS postal clerk Dominic Scardetto ("Scardetto") (Def.'s Ex. A, at 10). Because of the amounts of the money orders, Scardetto brought the money orders to his supervisor Priscilla Moore ("Moore") for approval, at which point he mistakenly thought the markings on the money orders looked unusual and questioned the genuineness of the money orders. (Scardetto Decl., Def.'s Ex. A, at 10.) While waiting, Eyo stated that she intended to travel out of the area soon. (Leonard S. Decl., Def's Ex. A, at 9; Scardetto Decl., Def.'s Ex. A, at 10-11.) The USPS and the Burlington City Post Office in particular had recently experienced problems negotiating fraudulent money orders in scams that notably involved persons from Nigeria. (Sims Decl., ¶ 3; Sims Decl., at 6-7; Toombs Decl., Def's Ex. A, at 12.)

As Eyo waited, Moore and Postmaster Daryl Toombs ("Toombs"), attempted to determine the legitimacy of the money orders with the assistance of United States Postal Inspector Dean Vitalli ("Inspector Vitalli"), whom they called on the phone. (Toombs Decl., Def.'s Ex. A, at 12.) Following Inspector Vitalli's instructions, Toombs held the money order "down away from light" and informed Inspector Vitalli that he did not observe the watermark security feature. (Id.) Inspector Vitalli told Toombs over the phone that the money orders were counterfeit and instructed Toombs to notify the police. (Id.) In addition, Moore called the post office in Cockeysville, Maryland (Def.'s Ex. A, at 26), which denied issuing the money orders.*fn3 (Sims Decl., ¶¶ 2, 8.) In actuality, the money orders were genuine and had been issued by the post office in Lutherville, Maryland. (Sims Decl., ¶ 6.) Though Eyo provided proper identification, was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs (Eyo Aff., Pl.'s Ex. 1, ¶ 9-10), and produced validly negotiable instruments, the USPS refused to cash Eyo's money orders and deliberately stalled her until the police arrived (Scardetto Decl., Def.'s Ex. A, at 11).

Police officers from the BCPD arrived and questioned Eyo (id.; Toombs Decl., Def.'s Ex. A, at 12; Leonard S. Decl., Def's Ex. A, at 9) before taking her to the BCPD, where she was interviewed by BCPD Detective William E. Hunt III ("Detective Hunt") and United States Postal Inspector Jeffrey Sims ("Inspector Sims") (Sims Decl., ¶¶ 3-4). Following that interview, and upon Inspector Sims's advice that the money orders had been identified as fraudulent, Detective Hunt prepared and filed a criminal complaint against Eyo, upon which the Burlington City Municipal Court issued a warrant for Eyo's arrest. (Id., ¶ 5; Def.'s Ex. A, at 6.)

Eyo was only released after her sister contacted the post office that actually issued the money orders in Lutherville, Maryland, which confirmed they were genuine. (Eyo Aff., Pl.'s Ex. 1, ¶ 13; Sims Decl., ¶ 6.)

Eyo alleges that USPS Inspectors Vitalli and Sims, acting within the scope of their employment, negligently failed to determine that the disputed money orders were genuine. Eyo also alleges that Inspectors Vitalli and Sims, acting within the scope of their employment, knowingly, intentionally, and improperly caused Eyo to be falsely arrested and detained by the BCPD without properly attempting to determine whether the money orders were genuine.

In accordance with 28 U.S.C. ยง 2675(a), as a prerequisite to instituting her claim against the Government under the FTCA, Eyo timely submitted Administrative Claims to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.