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Wilson v. United States

United States District Court, D. Nevada

April 19, 2019

SONALOITA WILSON, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al ., Defendants.

          ORDER

          JAMES C. MAHAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Presently before the court is the United States of America's (the “USA”) motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 25). Plaintiff Sonaloita Wilson (“plaintiff”) filed a response (ECF No. 28), to which the USA replied (ECF No. 32).

         Also before the court is the USA's motion to stay case. (ECF No. 37). Plaintiff filed a response (ECF No. 38). No reply has been filed, and the time to do so has passed.

         I. Facts

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) to collect money damages for injuries sustained in two successive automobile crashes, one of which involved an employee acting within the scope of her employment for the Department of the Treasury (“DOTR”). (ECF No. 1).

         Plaintiff's complaint alleges the following relevant facts:

         On September 1, 2016, plaintiff was traveling in an automobile in Las Vegas, Nevada. Id. When plaintiff stopped her vehicle for pedestrian traffic, defendant Makia McCloud (“McCloud”), an employee of the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), crashed into the rear of plaintiff's vehicle. Id. The vehicle driven by McCloud was owned by the USA and/or defendant Bobby Warren (“Warren”), another IRS employee. Id.

         Following the crash, plaintiff was seated in her disabled vehicle in the left of two travel lanes when defendant Liceth Demha-Santiago (“Demha-Santiago”) crashed into the back of plaintiff's vehicle. Id. Demha-Santiago was allegedly driving a vehicle owned by defendant Juan Demha (“Demha”) at the time of the crash. Id.

         Plaintiff's complaint asserts five claims for relief: (1) negligence against McCloud, Demha-Santiago, and “Doe” defendants; (2) “family purpose doctrine” against Demha; (3) negligent hiring, supervision, and training against the USA, Warren, and “Doe” defendants; (4) “vicarious liability” against the USA, Warren, and “Doe” defendants; and (5) negligent entrustment against the USA, Warren, Demha, and “Doe” defendants. Id.

         The court now considers the USA's motion to dismiss pursuant to FRCP 12(b)(1). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) (lack of subject-matter jurisdiction).

         II. Legal Standard

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 374 (1978). “A federal court is presumed to lack jurisdiction in a particular case unless the contrary affirmatively appears.” Stock West, Inc. v. Confederated Tribes of Colville Reservation, 873 F.2d 1221, 1225 (9th Cir. 1989).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) allows defendants to seek dismissal of a claim or action for a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) is appropriate if the complaint, considered in its entirety, fails to allege facts on its face sufficient to establish subject matter jurisdiction. In re Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) Antitrust Litig., 546 F.3d 981, 984-85 (9th Cir. 2008).

         Although the defendant is the moving party in a 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff is the party invoking the court's jurisdiction. As a result, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that the case is properly in federal court to survive the motion. McCauley v. Ford Motor Co., 264 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 2001) (citing McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936)). More specifically, the plaintiff's pleadings must show “the existence of whatever is essential to federal jurisdiction, and, if [plaintiff] does not do so, the court, on having the defect called to ...


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