United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MCNULTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court are the motions of defendant the United
States of America (Dkt No. 19-cv-15624 DE 5; Dkt No.
19-cv-15632 DE 3) to dismiss complaints filed by plaintiff
Terry Hurley in the two above-captioned cases.
word on the procedural history of these related actions. On
May 1, 2019, plaintiff filed his first complaint in the
Superior Court of New Jersey. (Dkt. No. 19-cv-15632 at ¶
1 at 7). That complaint was filed against Jeffery Fata, GSA
N.J. Management Center ("GSA"), Mukund Patel,
John/Jane Does 1-10, and ABC Corp. 1-10. On July 5, 2019,
plaintiff filed his second complaint in the Superior Court of
New Jersey. (Dkt. No. 19-cv-15624 at ¶ 1 at 7). Both
complaints' allegations are based on die same underlying
conduct. The difference is that in die second complaint,
Hurley added as defendants the United States of America and
the Federal Housing Finance Agency ("FHFA") and
increased die number of fictious defendants to 15,
i.e. John/Jane Does 1-15 and ABC Corp. 1-15.
19, 2019, the United States removed both actions and
substituted itself for all federal defendants pursuant to the
Federal Tort Claims Act. ("FTCA"). (DBr. at 6).
August 9, 2019, die United States moved to dismiss the
complaints for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction because
the plaintiff failed to exhaust the FTCA's administrative
prerequisites before filing his complaint. (DBr. at 5).
for his part, does not dispute that he failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies. (Hurley Opp. at 1). Hurley also
seemingly concedes that dismissal is warranted. He only
requests that if dismissal is granted, it be done without
prejudice; in die alternative, he requests that the motion to
dismiss be held in abeyance while he exhausts administrative
remedies. (Id. at 2). Defendant Patel did not move
to dismiss, but joins in plaintiffs request to stay this
action rather than dismiss it. (Patel Opp.). The United
States seeks dismissal and opposes die request for a stay.
(Reply at 4-6).
reasons explained below, I will grant the motions to dismiss.
5, 2007, a three car motor-vehicle accident occurred on the
New Jersey Turnpike. At the time, Mr. Hurley was driving
southbound on the Turnpike near mile 94.5 when he was struck
by another vehicle operated by Mr. Fata. ('624 Compl.
Count I, ¶¶ 1-2). At the time of the accident, the
complaints assert that Mr. Fata was operating his motor
vehicle in the course of his employment for the owner of the
vehicle, GSA. (Id. ¶ 2). The '624 Complaint
adds as an allegation that Mr. Fata was operating the vehicle
in the course of his employment for FHFA (Id. ¶
3) and that the GSA and FHFA negligently hired Mr. Fata
(Id. ¶ 4). Both complaints allege that as a
result of Mr. Fata's negligence, Mr. Hurley sustained
injuries, expenses, and damages. (Id. ¶ 5).
Specifically, Mr. Hurley sustained injuries to his head,
back, limbs, and body. (Id. ¶ 6). Mr.
Hurley's car was also damaged, requiring extensive
repairs. ('624 Compl. Count III, ¶ 2).
complaints additionally assert that another individual,
defendant Mukund Patel, was operating a motor vehicle in a
negligent and careless manner when he collided with
plaintiffs car. ('624 Compl. Count II, ¶ 3). Mr.
Patel is not a federal employee and does not join the motions
of the United States to dismiss.
noted above, on May 1 and July 5, 2019, plaintiff filed two
separate complaints in the Superior Court of New Jersey.
Prior to Filing his complaints, Mr. Hurley did not submit an
administrative tort claim to the GSA or the FHFA. (DE 5-2
(Dawn Austin Declaration) at 1-2; DE 5-3 (Brian Terhaar
Declaration) at 2). On July 5, 2019, the same date he filed
his second court complaint, plaintiff attempted to file an
administrative tort claim with the GSA. (See DE 5-4 (John F.
Basiak Jr. Declaration) at 1-2, 4).
to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) may be raised at any time.
Iwanowa v. Ford Motor Co.,67 F.Supp.2d 424, 437-38
(D.N.J. 1999). "[B]ecause subject matter jurisdiction is
non-waivable, courts have an independent obligation to
satisfy themselves of jurisdiction if it is in doubt. See
Mt. Healthy City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Doyle, 429
U.S. 274, 278, 97 S.Ct. 568, 50 L.Ed.2d 471 (1977). A
necessary corollary is that the court can ...