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DJORDJEVIC v. POSTMASTER GEN.

March 26, 1997

SINISA DJORDJEVIC, Plaintiff, against POSTMASTER GENERAL, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHNSON

 JOHNSON, District Judge:

 Before the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's claims pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), or, in the alternative, for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. Also before the Court is defendants' motion to strike plaintiff's jury demand. For the reasons stated herein, defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.

 BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff Sinisa Djordjevic, appearing pro se, has brought this action against the United States Postal Service ("USPS") and the Postmaster General (collectively "defendants") to recover the value of a lost package which he sent by international Express Mail to Moscow, Russia. Plaintiff filed an earlier action based on the same loss, but this Court dismissed his claims at that time, in part, for failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. See Djordjevic v. Postmaster General, 911 F. Supp. 72 (E.D.N.Y. 1995). Mr. Djordjevic has now fully exhausted his administrative remedies and therefore brings his claims once again.

 The facts which give rise to plaintiff's claims are substantially the same as those recited in this Court's earlier Memorandum and Opinion, dated December 14, 1995. They are as follows.

 On November 19, 1993, plaintiff mailed a package to Margarita Dmitrieva in Moscow, Russia via Express Mail, a service provided by the USPS. Plaintiff alleges that the package contained four $ 100 bills and various legal documents which had been issued by the General Consul of Russia in New York. Plaintiff alleges that the legal documents were necessary for Ms. Dmitrieva to obtain a visa to visit the United States, and that the money was to go towards her airfare.

 The package was never received by Ms. Dmitrieva in Moscow, prompting plaintiff to contact the USPS International Express Mail Service Inquiry Center ("Inquiry Center") on December 7, 1993. After an initial investigation, the Inquiry Center learned that the Russian postal administration had no record of ever receiving plaintiff's package. The Inquiry Center subsequently sent plaintiff the required forms for refund of postage and fees, and for claims of indemnity, with instructions that he submit the forms to his local post office in order to receive compensation for his loss.

 Plaintiff submitted the refund and indemnity forms to his local post office, claiming losses in the amount of $ 400 for the lost currency, $ 600 for reconstruction of the legal documents, and $ 157.10 for telephone calls to USPS Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and to Ms. Dmitrieva in Russia.

 Over the next eleven months, plaintiff and the USPS corresponded several times by mail in an attempt to arrange for plaintiff to be reimbursed for the losses he incurred. After plaintiff filed the initial refund and indemnity forms, the USPS responded on January 12, 1994, requesting that he provide copies of a receipt or invoice reflecting the cost incurred for reconstruction of the legal documents. Such documentation is required under § 211.5 of the International Mail Manual ("IMM") *fn1" and § S500.1.5.(d) of the Domestic Mail Manual ("DMM"). *fn2"

 Plaintiff then resubmitted duplicate copies of the refund and indemnity claim forms, including a copy of his original customer receipt, to his local post office on November 1, 1994. On November 8, 1994, the local post office sent plaintiff a postal money order in the amount of $ 14.00 for the postage paid on the undelivered mail. The indemnity claim was forwarded to the New York International Claims and Inquiries Office (ICIO) for processing, as required by IMM § 931.22. By letter dated November 22, 1994, the ICIO advised plaintiff that the four $ 100 bills were not reimbursable because it is prohibited to mail currency to Russia under postal regulations. The ICIO also requested that plaintiff submit additional documentation, as required by postal service regulations, to support his claim of $ 600 as the reasonable cost of replacing the lost legal documents.

 Plaintiff then filed his initial lawsuit with this Court seeking money damages against the USPS. See Djordjevic v. Postmaster General, No. 94 Civ. 6895 (E.D.N.Y. filed December 22, 1994). This Court dismissed plaintiff's claims against defendants to the extent that they sounded in tort because they were barred by sovereign immunity. Djordjevic v. Postmaster General, 911 F. Supp. 72, 75 (E.D.N.Y. 1995). Specifically, this Court explained that the exemption to the waiver of sovereign immunity embodied in 28 U.S.C. § 2680(b), which retains sovereign immunity with respect to claims "arising out of the loss, miscarriage, or negligent transmission of letters or postal matter," precluded plaintiff's tort claims. Id. Further, this Court found that because the ICIO had invited plaintiff to submit additional documentation to support his administrative claim for "the reasonable cost of reconstructing the lost documents," plaintiff had not exhausted his administrative remedies, and his claim was accordingly dismissed. Id. at 75-76.

 By letter dated February 9, 1996 to the ICIO, plaintiff once again requested reimbursement. Plaintiff attached a document to that letter entitled "Statement of Value," dated April 13, 1995, in which he described the basis for his $ 600 reimbursement request for the lost legal documents. *fn3" Specifically, plaintiff stated that he had paid $ 600 to a man named Serafim, whom he had met at the IBM Gallery of Science and Art in New York, to obtain an invitation letter, a confirmation by the Document Processing Center, and a statement of legality signed by the General Consul of Russia. Plaintiff stated that he had relied on Serafim because he had no idea how to get the legal documents necessary for his girlfriend, Ms. Dmitrieva, to visit the United States. Plaintiff stated that he did not have a receipt from Serafim and had no means of contacting him for one.


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