United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE DISTRIBUTION United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings filed pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(c) (Filing No. 31). Plaintiffs,
Mary and Phil Fladung brought this action under the Federal
Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) against both the United
States of America (the “United States”) and the
United States Postal Service (the “Postal
Service”). Defendants contend that the United States is
the only proper party defendant in an FTCA action, and
therefore, the Postal Service should be dismissed as a
defendant from this action. For the following reasons, the
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is GRANTED.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) permits a party to move for
judgment after the parties have filed a complaint and an
answer. Rule 12(c) motions are analyzed under the same
standard as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).
Pisciotta v. Old Nat'l Bancorp., 499 F.3d 629,
633 (7th Cir. 2007); Frey v. Bank One, 91 F.3d 45,
46 (7th Cir. 1996). Under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must
allege facts that are “enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Although
“detailed factual allegations” are not required,
mere “labels, ” “conclusions, ” or
“formulaic recitation[s] of the elements of a cause of
action” are insufficient. Id. Stated
differently, the complaint must include “enough facts
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d
575, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (internal citation and quotation
marks omitted). To be facially plausible, the complaint must
allow “the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court will grant a Rule 12(c)
motion only if “it appears beyond doubt that the
plaintiff cannot prove any facts that would support his claim
for relief.” N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc.
v. City of S. Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 452 (7th Cir. 1998)
(quoting Craigs, Inc. v. Gen. Elec. Capital Corp.,
12 F.3d 686, 688 (7th Cir. 1993)). The factual allegations in
the complaint are viewed in a light most favorable to the
non-moving party; however, the court is “not obliged to
ignore any facts set forth in the complaint that undermine
the plaintiff's claim or to assign any weight to
unsupported conclusions of law.” Id. (quoting
R.J.R. Serv., Inc. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 895
F.2d 279, 281 (7th Cir. 1989)). “As the title of the
rule implies, Rule 12(c) permits a judgment based on the
pleadings alone. . . . The pleadings include the complaint,
the answer, and any written instruments attached as
exhibits.” Id. (internal citations omitted).
March 13, 2014, Mrs. Fladung tripped and fell at the U.S.
Post Office in Carmel, Indiana. Plaintiffs contend that her
“fall and subsequent injuries were directly and
proximately caused by the carelessness and negligence of the
Defendants.” (Filing No. 1 at 1 ¶ 4.) On
January 22, 2016, Plaintiffs filed this action in district
court, naming both the United States and the Postal Service
as defendants. The Complaint explicitly alleges that
“[t]his action arises under Title 28 of the United
States Code § 2671 et seq., more commonly known as the
Federal Tort Claims Act.” (Filing No. 1 at ¶
4.) Defendants have answered the Complaint and as an
affirmative defense, assert that Plaintiffs improperly named
the Postal Service as a party.
FTCA specifically provides that “the United
States shall be liable, respecting provisions of this
title relating to tort claims, in the same manner and to the
same extent as a private individual under like circumstances
. . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 2674 (emphasis added). Thus,
under the FTCA, a governmental agency cannot be sued in its
own name. Hughes v. United States, 701 F.2d 56, 58
(7th Cir. 1982). Pursuant to the Postal Reorganization Act,
the Postal Service is “an independent establishment of
the executive branch of the Government of the United
States.” Dolan v. U.S. Postal Serv., 546 U.S.
481, 483-84 (2006) (quoting 39 U.S.C. § 201).
As such, an action under the FTCA must be brought against the
United States, not a federal agency or federal employees.
Plaintiffs bring solely tort claims in their Complaint, based
on the purportedly negligent activities of the Postal
Service, the FTCA applies to their claims against the Postal
Service. See 39 U.S.C. § 409(c);
Dolan, 546 U.S. at 483. The only proper defendant in
an FTCA action is the United States. See Jackson v.
Kotter, 541 F.3d 688, 693 (7th Cir. 2008). The
Plaintiffs agree. In their response, Plaintiffs notify the
Court that they have no objection to the Postal Service's
motion. (Filing No. 34.)
Defendants' Motion is granted and the claims against the
Postal Service in this action are dismissed with prejudice.
foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion
for Judgment on the Pleadings (Filing No. 31) and
the Postal Service is dismissed as a defendant in this
action. The Clerk ...