United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
J.B., a Minor, by her Father and Custodial Parent, IVAN BAUBLITZ, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment
filed by the Defendant, the United States of America [ECF No.
27], pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS the
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
Plaintiff was injured following a collision with a vehicle
owned and operated by the United States Postal Service.
Following the collision, the Plaintiff filed an
administrative claim with USPS on December 12, 2016. Upon
review, USPS determined it was not liable for damages in the
current situation. USPS then sent a denial letter to
Plaintiff's counsel on June 15, 2017. The letter
contained an explanation of how to proceed if the Plaintiff
did not agree with the denial of her claim. The Plaintiff
then filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana on
January 2, 2018.
judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Summary judgment is the moment in litigation
where the non-moving party is required to marshal and present
the court with evidence on which a reasonable jury could rely
to find in her favor. Goodman v. Nat'l Sec. Agency,
Inc., 621 F.3d 651, 654 (7th Cir. 2010). The court's
role in deciding a motion for summary judgment “is not
to sift through the evidence, pondering the nuances and
inconsistencies, and decide whom to believe. The court has
one task and one task only: to decide, based on the evidence
of record, whether there is any material dispute of fact that
requires a trial.” Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst
Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1994). “A
district court should deny a motion for summary judgment only
when the non-moving party presents admissible evidence that
creates a genuine issue of material fact.” Luster
v. Ill. Dep't of Corr., 652 F.3d 726, 731 (7th Cir.
2011) (first citing United States v. 5443 Suffield
Terrace, 607 F.3d 504, 510 (7th Cir. 2010); then citing
Swearnigen-El v. Cook Cty. Sheriff's Dep't,
602 F.3d 852, 859 (7th Cir. 2010)). Material facts are those
that are outcome determinative under the applicable law.
Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 427 (7th Cir. 1997).
Additionally, a court is not “obliged to research and
construct legal arguments for parties, especially when they
are represented by counsel.” Nelson v.
Napolitano, 657 F.3d 586, 590 (7th Cir. 2011).
Statute of Limitations under 28 U.S.C. § 2401
the Federal Torts Claim Act, the Plaintiff's complaint
must be filed within two years of the injury or within six
months following the mailing of a final denial. See
28 U.S.C. § 2401(b). The Plaintiff failed to timely file
her claim with this Court. The USPS mailed the denial letter
on June 15, 2017. Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ.
J. Ex. B. The six-month deadline to file suit was therefore
December 15, 2017. The Plaintiff filed the Complaint in this
case on January 2, 2018, and is thus outside of the statute
Plaintiff argues that the letter was “confusing”
and not clearly a final denial. Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s
Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 35, p. 1. Specifically, the
Plaintiff argues that the letter “fails to state it is
a denial of this final action, ” quoting the letter as
saying “‘if dissatisfied with the Postal
Service's final denial of an administrative claim, a
claimant may file suit in a United States District Court no
later than six months from the date the Postal Service mails
the notice of that final action.'” Id.
However, the letter's next sentence continues:
“Accordingly, any suit filed in regards to this denial
must be filed no later than six (6) months from the date of
the mailing of this letter, which is the date shown
above.” Id. at Ex. A. The Court does not agree
with the Plaintiff that the letter was confusing; on the
contrary, the letter makes clear both that it is the final
denial and the date by which the Plaintiff must file suit.
The Plaintiff has not presented any disputed fact to
contradict the letter's own language. Cf. Gen. Cas.
v. United States Gov't, Case No. 13-CV-5596, 2014 WL
2198487 (N.D. Ill. May 27, 2014); Brown v. Simmons,
Case No. 1:10-CV-0304, 2012 WL 3726699 (N.D. Ind. Aug. 27,
Equitable Tolling and Minors
the Plaintiff argues that the statute of limitations should
be equitably tolled in this case because the victim is a
minor. However, the Seventh Circuit has held that “the
FTCA's statute of limitations is not tolled during the
period of a putative plaintiff's minority.”
McCall ex rel. Estate of Bess v. United
States, 310 F.3d 984, 988 (7th Cir. 2002) (joining the
Second, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits).
Plaintiff, in contrast, cites a case from the Middle District
of Pennsylvania. Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Mot. for Summ.
J., ECF No. 35, p. 2 (citing Albright v. Keystone Rural
Health Ctr., 320 F.Supp.2d 286, 290-91 (M.D. Pa. 2004)).
However, in Albright, the plaintiff's minority
combined with the difficulty of ascertaining the
defendants' federal status led that court to equitably
toll the statute. Albright, 320 F.Supp.2d at 291
(“Clearly, the existence of [Pennsylvania's
Minors' Tolling Statute] coupled with the fact that it
was difficult if not impossible to ascertain Defendants'
federal status gave rise to an extraordinary circumstance . .
. .”). Therefore, in ...