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Bennett v. Crane

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

April 24, 2019

JACKIE S. BENNETT, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES CRANE, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Susan Collins United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the Court is a motion filed by Plaintiff Jackie S. Bennett (“Bennett”), seeking leave of Court to file a third amended complaint in this case. (DE 66). On February 21, 2019, Defendant the United States of America (the “Government”) objected to Bennett's motion on the basis of undue delay and futility. (DE 67). Bennett did not file a reply, and her time to do so has passed. N.D. Ind. L.R. 7-1(d)(2)(B). For the reasons discussed below, Bennett's motion to amend will be denied.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Bennett filed the initial complaint in this case on December 16, 2016 (DE 1), and a second amended complaint on April 6, 2018[1] (DE 41).

         On December 24, 2018, Bennett filed a motion seeking leave to amend her complaint a third time. (DE 60). The Government filed a response objecting to Bennett's motion to amend. (DE 62). Bennett did not file a reply; rather, she filed a motion seeking leave to amend her motion to amend complaint (DE 64), in which she alleged for the first time a claim to recover $848.97 pursuant to the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1491, and Little Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1346. (DE 64 at 3-4).

         The Court denied both of Bennett's motions on procedural grounds. (DE 65). However, the Court afforded Bennett the opportunity to file a motion seeking leave to file a third amended complaint (DE 65), and Bennett did so on February 7, 2019 (DE 66). In the instant motion, Bennett seeks leave to amend Count III of her complaint to allege a claim under the Tucker Act and the Little Tucker Act. (DE 66 at 4).

         II. COMPLAINT ALLEGATIONS [2]

         The complaint alleges that Bennett worked as a Sales and Service/Distribution Agent at the United States Post Office in Monroeville, Indiana. (DE 1 at 3). Bennett resigned from her position on January 24, 2014. (DE 1 at 3).

         On February 24, 2014, Postmaster Denise Antinnucci sent a letter to Bennett, stating that a shortage of approximately $848.97 had been discovered at the Monroeville Post Office following Bennett's departure. (DE 1 at 3). Bennett alleged that the letter demanded repayment of the alleged shortage and implied that criminal charges would be brought if Bennett failed to comply.[3] (DE 1 at 3). Bennett refuted the allegation in Antinnucci's letter but ultimately paid the United States Postal Service $848.97. (DE 1 at 3).

         Bennett was later arrested on charges related to the alleged shortage. (DE 1 at 4). After an audit of the Monroeville post office in December 2019, Postmaster Krista Carr stated that the “office [was] in terrible shape, ” and advised that there had never been a shortage of $848.97. (DE 1 at 5). Postmaster Carr went on to recommend that Bennett be reimbursed the $848.97 and receive an apology. (DE 1 at 5). To date, Bennett has not received a reimbursement. (DE 66-1 at 19).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Bennett seeks to amend her complaint to assert the following claim in Count III:

60. Plaintiff paid over to the USPS, upon demand from Defendant Antinnucci, her personal funds for a debt she did not owe.
61. Defendant, USPS, demanded return of allegedly misappropriated postal funds, which remedy, in cases of actual embezzlement, is available to the USPS under 18 U.S. Code § 1711, but no embezzlement occurred in this case.
62. Plaintiff, pursuant to the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C.A. ยง 1491, demands, and has demanded, return of the $848.97 and for prejudgment interest, due to the improper ...

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