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MORALES v. UNITED STATES

December 22, 1993

JUAN MORALES, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.


GLASSER


The opinion of the court was delivered by: I. LEO GLASSER

GLASSER, United States District Judge:

 Defendant, the United States of America, seeks dismissal of this action pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) on the ground that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's claim. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion is hereby granted.

 FACTS

 Plaintiff's counsel notified APL by letter dated September 16, 1992, that he was representing plaintiff "in his claim for personal injuries," and requested APL to provide him with a copy of the ship's accident report and any medical reports concerning treatment of Morales. (Gribbin Affirm. Ex. C). In response, by letter dated September 24, 1992, APL informed plaintiff's counsel that

 
If a seaman becomes ill or injured while employed aboard a vessel owned by the Maritime Administration, and believes he should be compensated for the alleged illness or injury, the incident should be reported in accordance with Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations Part 327, Sections 4 and 5 (copy enclosed).

 (Gribbin Affirm. Ex. D) (emphasis added). In addition, APL notified plaintiff that the claimant was expected to provide all medical information to APL, and requested information concerning the amount of compensation, if any, sought by Morales. (Id.). *fn1"

 Plaintiff responded approximately six months later, by letter to MARAD dated April 7, 1993. The letter read in relevant part:

 
I now note that the statute of limitations will run on this claim in approximately three weeks and I am writing this letter as a precursor to filing suit in the United States District Court. If possible, I would appreciate your providing me with an immediate administrative disallowance of this claim so that there will be no question that the suit has been timely filed.

 (Gribbin Affirm. Ex. E). Plaintiff also included in the letter certain information required by the regulations to pursue an administrative claim, including personal information; the name of the vessel; the place and date where the incident occurred; names of witnesses; the dollar amounts of the claim; the identity of the treating physician; and his current disability status. (Id.).

 APL did not receive a copy of the claim until MARAD forwarded it a facsimile copy on April 28, 1993. (Gribbin Affirm. P 10, Ex. E & F). MARAD's Division of Marine Insurance thereafter responded to plaintiff by letter dated April 29, 1993, notifying him that his April 7 letter requesting an administrative disallowance lacked information required "to perfect his administrative claim." (Gribbin Affirm. Ex. G). Specifically, the April 29 letter informed plaintiff that the following information was missing:

 
Your letter does not describe an incident or provide any description of circumstances resulting in an incident involving your client Mr. Juan Morales. Furthermore, your letter does not justify a damage demand by providing not only the cause of damages claimed, but a historical employment or income record of your client, Mr. Juan Morales, as a merchant seaman to support a claim for lost income earning capability. In addition, your letter does not explain if Mr. Juan Morales is currently employed or if he has an income source that would offset lost income earning opportunity as a merchant seaman. Supporting information which is critical to a damage complaint is medical documentation provided by the claimant which documents treatment prescribed or ...

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