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Sokolich v. United States Postal Service

June 15, 2006

PHILIP SOKOLICH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas J. McAVOY, Senior United States District Judge

DECISION & ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

This is a pro se action brought by Plaintiff Philip Sokolich against the United States Postal Service (USPS). Plaintiff alleges in the Complaint that he is entitled to a $10,000 reward from the USPS for assistance he gave to the USPS by reporting another person for mail theft. Defendant has moved to dismiss pursuant to, inter alia,*fn1 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted and the action is dismissed.

II. BACKGROUND

The Complaint [dkt. # 1] alleges that Plaintiff "reported Theresa Brower for U.S. Mail theft . . . which resulted in [her] conviction . . ." Compl. at p. 1. Plaintiff "filed . .. for the $10,000 Reward from the United States Postal Service under U.S. Code Title 39, Part I, Chapter 4, sec. 404(8) for [his] report of said Theresa Brower's theft of U.S. Mail from [his] sense of civic duty . . . ." Id. Attached to the Complaint are various documents including Plaintiff's "Application for Reward," and a letter from the Director of the Office of Inspector General of the USPS to Plaintiff indicating that the USPS had determined upon investigation that he was not entitled to a reward because "a member of the local police department investigating the mail theft had identified the suspect prior to interviewing you." Compl. Attach. Plaintiff contends in the Complaint that he filed this action "for review by a U.S. Federal Judge, or a U.S. Federal Magistrate, . . . with [sic] Plaintiff [sic] demands from the United States Postal Service [sic] $10,000.00." Compl. at p. 2.

As indicated above, Defendant has moved to dismiss pursuant to, inter alia, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Plaintiff has not responded to the motion. The Court docket indicates that Defendant served the motion on Plaintiff by mailing it to: Philip Sokolich, P.O. Box 171, Ogdensburg, New York 13669, and Philip Sokolich, P.O. Box 164, Ogdensburg, New York 13669. See Dkt. # 33-1 (Notice of Motion with Certificate of Service). The Court's docket lists Plaintiff's last known mailing address was Philip Sokolich, P.O. Box 171, Ogdensburg, New York 13669. See 9/3/03 Clerk's Dkt. Entry (updating Plaintiff's address based upon his correspondence as: P.O. Box 171, Ogdensburg, New York 13669). Yet, when the Clerk's Office mailed a Notice to Plaintiff indicating that the instant motion would be decided on the submissions alone (e.g. that there would be no oral argument on the motion), see 5/19/06 Dkt. Entry, the Notice was returned and marked as "undeliverable." See dkt. # 34.*fn2 Thus, it is unclear whether Plaintiff received the Government's motion either at the P.O. Box 171, Ogdensburg, New York 13669 address, or at the P.O. Box 164, Ogdensburg, New York 13669 address. Either way, the record contains no opposition from Plaintiff.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Adjudication of Motion Absent Plaintiff's Response

The Court finds sufficient basis to proceed with this motion absent Plaintiff's input. Local Rule 10.1(b)(2) requires pro se litigants to notify the Court of any change of address, and Local Rule 41.2(b) provides that failure to notify the Court of a change of address may result in dismissal of the action. The requirement of notifying the Court (and the opposing party) of a change of address, and dismissing cases where the requirement has not been met, is founded on the public policy that encourages the Court to achieve orderly and expeditious disposition of all cases. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 1; Dansby v. Albany County Corr. Facility Staff, 1996 WL 172699, at * 1 (N.D.N.Y. April 10, 1996). A party's failure to notify the Court of a change of address is generally interpreted as a failure by that party to properly prosecute his case. Plaintiff has already been the subject of an Order to Show Cause for apparent lack if interest in prosecuting this case. See Order to Show Cause [dkt. # 11]. Thus, under the circumstances presented here, the case could be dismissed under Rule 41.2(b).

Further, the pending motion raises a challenge to this Court's subject matter jurisdiction.The Court "may examine subject matter jurisdiction, sua sponte, at any stage of the proceeding." Adams v. Suozzi, 433 F. 3d 220, 224 (2d Cir. 2005)(quoting F.D.I.C. v. Four Star Holding Co., 178 F.3d 97, 100 n. 2 (2d Cir. 1999)). Because (1) the Government has challenged the subject matter jurisdiction of the Court to adjudicate this matter, (2) the Court can address the question of subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte, and (3) the Plaintiff has evidenced his lack of interest in prosecuting this matter, the Court will decide the instant motion without further delay.

B. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

As the Second Circuit has pointed out:

A plaintiff has the burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that subject matter jurisdiction exists. Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000); Malik v. Meissner, 82 F.3d 560, 562 (2d Cir. 1996). Sovereign immunity is a jurisdictional bar, and a waiver of sovereign immunity is to be construed strictly and limited to its express terms. SeeDep't of the Army v. Blue Fox, Inc., 525 U.S. 255, 261, 119 S.Ct. 687, 142 L.Ed.2d 718 (1999)(interpreting scope of the federal government's waiver of sovereign immunity under the [Administrative Procedures Act]); Up State Fed. Credit Union v. Walker, 198 F.3d 372, 374 (2d Cir. 1999)("It is well established that in any suit in which the United States is a defendant, a waiver of sovereign immunity with respect to the claim is a prerequisite to subject matter jurisdiction."). "Absent a waiver, ...


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