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Lennon v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. New York

November 15, 2017

PATRICK LENNON, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, OCDT J. MADDAN, and the UNITED KINGDOM, Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER

          PAUL A. ENGELMAYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This case involves tort claims arising out of a sidewalk collision between a jogger and a pedestrian. Plaintiff Patrick Lennon claims that he suffered injuries when James Maddan, an officer-cadet in the British Armed Forces who was jogging in midtown Manhattan, collided with him. Lennon brings negligence claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 2671, et seq., not only against Maddan, but also against the United States of America (the "United States" or the "Government") and the United Kingdom. The United States moves to dismiss the claim against it under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that it is entitled to sovereign immunity. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants that motion.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background[1]

         In 2014, Maddan was a cadet in training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst ("RMAS"). Barr Decl. ¶ 4; Maddan Statement at 1. In April 2014, he and 24 other cadets were chosen by RMAS to participate in the Sandhurst Competition, an annual international military competition scheduled for April 11 and 12, 2014, at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Barr Decl. ¶¶ 4-5; Maddan Statement at 1.

         The week before the competition, Maddan and his fellow RMAS cadets were billeted in a New York City hotel, in order to acclimate and prepare for the competition. FAC ¶¶ 14, 18-19; Barr Decl. ¶¶ 6-7; Maddan Statement at 1. All RMAS cadets are expected to maintain their fitness; fitness is essential to performance in the Sandhurst Competition. Barr Decl. ¶ 7; Maddan Statement at 1. To prevent "fitness fade, " the cadets took training runs in New York City. Maddan Statement at 1. The cadets took these runs on their own initiative, and the timing and routes of these runs were determined solely by the cadets. Barr Decl. ¶ 7.

         One such run took place at approximately 7:30 a.m. on the morning of April 5, 2014. Barr Decl. ¶ 7; Maddan Statement at 1. During the run, as Maddan turned to speak to a fellow cadet, he collided with Lennon, who was waiting at a Lexington Avenue crosswalk. FAC ¶¶ 4, 7; Maddan Statement at 1. Struck from behind, Lennon fell to the pavement. FAC ¶ 7; Maddan Statement at 1. Lennon suffered head and knee injuries. FAC ¶ 29. The latter required arthroscopic surgery and resulted in a permanent disability. Id.

         B. Procedural History

         On April 13, 2016, Lennon submitted a claim for $250, 000 to the United States Department of the Army. FAC ¶ 22. On July 13, 2016, the Department of the Army rejected this claim. Id. ¶23.

         On December 28, 2016, Lennon filed a complaint in this action. Dkt. 1. On February 10, 2017, all three defendants were served. Dkts. 3-5. On June 14, 2017, following two extensions, Dkts. 7, 9, the Government moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, Dkt. 13. On July 20, 2017, Lennon filed the FAC. Dkt. 24. On August 10, 2017, the Government filed the instant motion to dismiss on the same grounds. Dkt. 27. On September 14, 2017, Lennon filed a memorandum in opposition, Dkt. 31, and on September 28, 2017, the Government filed a reply, Dkt. 32.

         Maddan and the United Kingdom have not appeared in this case.

         II. Applicable Legal Standards

         The standards governing subject matter jurisdiction in this case turn on the obligations of the United States under the Status of Forces Agreement, an international pact under which, in some circumstances, the United States may be liable for tortious conduct in this country by service members of other North Atlantic Treaty Organization ("NATO") countries. The Court first reviews the governing standards and then applies them to Lennon's allegations as to Maddan.

         A. ...


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