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Lepre v. New York State Insurance Fund

United States District Court, N.D. New York

August 18, 2014

JOHN DAVID LEPRE, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW YORK STATE INSURANCE FUND; THE UNITED STATES. INC.; and THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Defendants.[1]

JOHN DAVID LEPRE Plaintiff, Pro Se Kingsley, PA.

HON. ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, ADRIENNE J. KERWIN, ESQ., Attorney General for the State of New York, Albany, NY, Counsel for Defendants, New York State Insurance Fund and the State of New York.

HON. RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN, WILLIAM F. LARKIN, ESQ., United States Attorney for the N.D.N.Y., Syracuse, NY, Counsel for Defendants, The United States, Inc., James Hanley U.S. Courthouse.

DECISION & ORDER

GLENN T. SUDDABY, District Judge.

Currently before the Court in this action filed by pro se plaintiff, John David Lepre ("Plaintiff") against the three above-named government entities are (1) a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, lack of personal jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted by defendants, New York State Insurance Fund and the State of New York ("the State Defendants") pursuant to Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Dkt. No. 10); (2) a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and/or for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted by defendant, the United States, Inc. ("United States") pursuant to Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Dkt. No. 19); (3) a motion by Plaintiff to identify Defendants as corporate entities (Dkt. No. 37); (4) a motion by Plaintiff for sanctions against Defendants (Dkt. No. 45); (5) a letter motion by Plaintiff seeking the status of the pending motions to dismiss (Dkt. No. 46); and (6) Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings and/or for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 47). For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motions to dismiss are granted and Plaintiff's motions are denied.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Complaint

This action was commenced on August 5, 2013 with the filing of Plaintiff's "Petition for Judicial Review" of a denial of Plaintiff's claim for damages presented to the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA"). (Dkt. No. 1 [Pl.'s Compl.].) Plaintiff's claim to the EPA is related to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's ("DEC") enforcement of a requirement that Plaintiff obtain a permit in order to continue quarry related work on certain property in Chenango County, New York ("the subject property"). ( Id. ) Plaintiff further challenges the legality of a September 17, 2009 Judgment of New York State Supreme Court Justice Kevin M. Dowd that, among other things, prohibited Plaintiff from engaging in any mining activities at the subject property and ordered Plaintiff to obtain a permit or to commence and complete reclamation of the site. Plaintiff seeks damages as well as a declaratory judgment from this Court that Defendants "violated the Laws of the United States and the Private Property Rights and Common Law Rights of" Plaintiff. ( Id. )

Plaintiff's claim before the EPA, dated September 4, 2012, seeks damages related for "tortious interference with prospective advantage" stemming from an alleged injury that occurred on February 21, 2006 through "present" resulting from DEC officers entering the subject property in order to compel the cessation of work on the property until a permit was obtained. (Dkt. No. 1-2, at 4.) On January 15, 2013, the EPA denied Plaintiff's claim for failure to state a claim for which relief is available under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA") and advised Plaintiff that he may "file suit in the appropriate U.S. District Court no later than six months from the date of" its denial. ( Id., at 15.) Rather than commence an action in U.S. District Court, Plaintiff sent a "Notice of Appeal" to the EPA on January 22, 2013, which the EPA treated as a request for reconsideration of its January 15, 2013 denial of Plaintiff's claim. ( Id., at 16, 18.) On February 19, 2013, the EPA upheld its January 15, 2013 decision "pertain[ing] to [Plaintiff's] quarry activities" due to Plaintiff's failure to state a claim for relief that is available under the FTCA. ( Id., at 18.) The EPA again advised Plaintiff of his right to seek judicial review no later than six months from its February 19, 2013 decision denying Plaintiff's claim.

B. Defendants' Motions

1. State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

Generally, in support of their motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, the State Defendants assert the following four arguments: (1) the State Defendants have not consented to suit or waived their sovereign immunity and therefore, Plaintiff's claims against them are barred under the Eleventh Amendment; (2) Plaintiff's claims are barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine; (3) Plaintiff has failed to properly serve the State Defendants and therefore, Plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction; and (4) Plaintiff fails to allege any wrongdoing by the State or its officers and therefore Plaintiff has not stated a claim against the State Defendants upon which relief can be granted. ( See generally Dkt. No. 10-1.)

Generally, liberally construed, in response to the State Defendants' motion to dismiss, Plaintiff asserts the following four arguments: (1) the State is barred by the doctrine of laches and/or collateral estoppel from re-litigating this case; (2) the Rooker-Feldman doctrine is misapplied to this case because Plaintiff's rights were violated under laws enforced by the State Defendants; (3) Plaintiff has a right to amend, supplement, and/or repair his pleadings before the Court dismisses any of his claims; and (4) the State Defendants are private business entities and are not protected by sovereign immunity. ( See generally Dkt. No. 11.)

2. United States' Motion to Dismiss

Generally, in support of its motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, the United States asserts the following two arguments: (1) Plaintiff's complaint against the United States must be dismissed because (a) it is barred by the statute of limitations under the jurisdiction requirements of the FTCA and (b) the FTCA does not waive the sovereign immunity of the United States for claims regarding the interference with contractual rights; and (2) Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted against the United States because Plaintiff fails to allege any wrongdoing by an employee of the United States acting within the course and scope of his or her employment. ( See generally Dkt. No. 19-2.)

Generally, liberally construed, in response to the United States' motion to dismiss, Plaintiff asserts the following six arguments: (1) the United States is barred by the doctrine of laches and/or collateral estoppel from re-litigating this case; (2) the United States is a private business entity and is not protected by sovereign immunity; (3) Plaintiff has a right to amend, supplement, and/or repair his pleadings before the Court dismisses any of his claims; (4) Plaintiff's administrative claim was timely as the deprivations of his rights are ongoing; (5) Plaintiff did not have a contractual relationship with the United States and therefore, the United States' argument that the FTCA does not waive its sovereign immunity is based on a misrepresentation of fact; and (6) under the doctrine of agency, the actions of New York State officials binds the United States and therefore, Plaintiff has stated a claim against the United States. ( See generally Dkt. No. 33.)

Generally, in reply to Plaintiff's response the United States asserts the following two arguments: (1) Plaintiff failed to timely file an administrative claim under the FTCA and therefore, this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action against the United States; and (2) an amendment of the complaint will not cure the jurisdictional deficit and therefore, any request for leave to amend should be denied as futile. ( See generally Dkt. No. 34.)

C. Plaintiff's Motions

Generally, in support of his motion to identify the Defendants as corporate entities, Plaintiff argues that such a determination will establish that none of the Defendants have sovereign immunity. ( See generally Dkt. No. 37)

Generally, in support of his motion for sanctions against Defendants, Plaintiff argues that Defendants are delaying this action in order to manipulate the Court into dismissing the action for failure to prosecute under Local Rule 41.2. ( See generally Dkt. No. 45).

Generally, in support of his letter motion for status of the pending motions to dismiss, Plaintiff contends that he did not consent to any indefinite period of adjournment of the hearings on these motions. ( See generally Dkt. No. 46).

Generally, in support of his motion for judgment on the pleadings and/or for summary judgment, Plaintiff asserts, in addition to those arguments previously advanced in support of his opposition to the Defendants' motions to dismiss, that there are no questions of fact to be decided as the Defendants have ...


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