United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. SHERIDAN, U.S.D.J.
matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss any Claim
For Damages Exceeding $75, 000 and to Limit Damages to $75,
000 by Defendant Department of the Army pursuant Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(h)(3). (ECF No. 26).
For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's motion is
case arises from injuries sustained in a car accident. On
August 22, 2011, Plaintiff Luis Rodriguez was involved in a
serious car accident, when his vehicle was struck by another
vehicle, registered to Defendant Department of the Army
(hereinafter, "the Army"), that was operated by an
Army employee, Michael J. Parmigiano. (Complaint at
¶¶ 4-5). As a result of the accident, Plaintiff
sustained permanent physical injuries and damage to his
vehicle. (Id. at ¶ 7).
required under the administrative process for seeking damages
against the United States, Plaintiff submitted to the Army a
Standard Form 95 Claim for Damage, Injury, or Death on
January 22, 2013. (ECF No. 26-3, "SF-951"). In this
form, Plaintiff identified property damage to his vehicle,
and physical injuries to his "back, neck, and both
knees." (Id.). In response to one question on
the form, concerning the "Amount of Claim, "
Plaintiff claimed $10, 108.72 for damage to his vehicle and
"to be determined" for personal injury damages.
(Id.). Two days later, the Army responded, informing
Plaintiffs counsel that his SF-95 I form was deficient, since
it failed to state a sum certain for his personal injuries.
(ECF No. 26-4, "Letter From Army").
six months later, on July 15, 2013, Plaintiff submitted to
the Army a second SF-95 form. (ECF No. 26-5, "SF-95
II"). Consistent with SF-95 I, Plaintiff again
identified injuries to his "back, neck and both
knees" and sought $10, 108.72 in damages to his vehicle,
(Id.)', however, in this second form, Plaintiff
claimed personal injuries damages of "[o]ver $75,
000.00." (Id.). As such, Plaintiff alleged
total damages of over $85, 108.72. (Id.).
on April 14, 2016, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this
Court, alleging three counts of negligence against the Army,
Parmigiano, and fictitious defendants. Although the Complaint
sought no specified amount in damages, the civil cover sheet
attached to it demanded relief of $1 million. (ECF No. 1-1,
"Civil Cover Sheet").
than six months later, on October 4, 2016, the Army notified
Plaintiffs counsel by letter that it was denying his claims.
(ECF No. 26-6, "Army Denial Letter"). The letter
explained, "Since your client has filed suit regarding
this incident in The United States District Court, For The
District of New Jersey, all claims related to the event that
serve as the basis of this suit are no longer amenable to
administrative resolution. (Id.).
April 28, 2017, Plaintiff provided the Army responses to its
first set of interrogatories. When asked to identify damages
for past pain and suffering, future pain and suffering, and
property damage and repair, Plaintiff responded: $500, 000;
$500, 000; and $6, 500, respectively. (ECF No. 26-7,
"Plaintiffs Interrogatories" at 4). When asked to
describe the injuries he sustained as a result of the August
2011 accident, Plaintiff stated:
My right leg, right knee and entire lower back; left knee,
neck and upper back. I had surgery on the left knee with Dr.
Christopher Spagnuola in August, 2013 and on the right knee
in October, 2013. At present I am currently undergoing
authorized medical treatment for the left knee which includes
injections with Dr. Spagnuola.
I am still in severe pain in all the affected areas. The pain
is not improving and is getting worse.
I have limited range of motion in my neck, back and legs. I
am also having memory problems.
(Id. at 2).
Army presently seeks to limit Plaintiffs damages to the
personal injury amount stated in the ...