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DAUGHERTY v. UNITED STATES

February 14, 1977

Harvey B. DAUGHERTY
v.
UNITED STATES of America and William F. Todero, Original Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: KNOX

 KNOX, District Judge.

 This is an action under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346 and 2671, et seq., to recover for personal injuries and property damage suffered by plaintiff Harvey B. Daugherty in an automobile accident on March 6, 1974, near Plum Borough, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

 Plaintiff originally filed this action against William F. Todero in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County on October 6, 1975, alleging that the accident was caused by Todero's negligence. Plaintiff claims that he had been proceeding east on Route 22 at about 6:00 p.m. on March 6, when Todero, an employee of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, collided with the rear of his stopped vehicle. At the time of the alleged accident, Todero was returning to his home in Plum Borough from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, where he had been conducting an examination of the Beaver Falls Savings and Loan Association.

 On May 26, 1976, William Todero after the Pennsylvania two year statute of limitations for personal injuries had expired (12 P.S. § 34) filed a petition to remove the action to the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2679(d). At the same time the Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District filed a certification that defendant Todero was acting within the scope of his employment with the Bank Board at the time of the accident.

 On May 28, 1976, this court on motion of the United States entered an order substituting the United States as defendant in place of Todero, and directing that the case proceed as a tort action against the United States under 1346(b) of the Tort Claims Act.

 The United States subsequently filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) claiming that the court lacked jurisdiction over the subject matter. *fn1" The government noted that plaintiff had failed to file an administrative claim with the Federal Home Loan Bank Board before filing suit, as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2675(a). See Elter v. United States, CA74-526 (W.D.Pa.1974) (Knox, J.). 28 U.S.C. § 2675(a) provides in part:

 
"(a) An action shall not be instituted upon a claim against the United States for money damages for injury or loss of property or personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government while acting within the scope of his office or employment, unless the claimant shall have first presented the claim to the appropriate Federal agency and his claim shall have been finally denied by the agency in writing and sent by certified or registered mail."

 On June 11, 1976, plaintiff filed a motion to remand the case to the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court on the grounds that the case had not been properly removed *fn2" and that Todero was not acting on government business at the time of the accident. Argument on both motions was held on July 2, 1976, and the court conducted a further hearing and argument on October 13, 1976. The parties have submitted briefs and both motions are now pending before the court.

 The issue presented in this case is whether Todero was acting within the scope of his employment with the Federal Home Loan Bank Board at the time of the alleged accident with plaintiff.

 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), which provides the district court with jurisdiction over tort claims against the government, states as follows:

 
"(b) Subject to the provisions of chapter 171 of this title, the district courts, together with the United States District Court for the District of the Canal Zone and the District Court of the Virgin Islands, shall have exclusive jurisdiction of civil actions on claims against the United States, for money damages, accruing on and after January 1, 1945, for injury or loss of property or personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government while acting within the scope of his office or employment, under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred."

 First, where the government employee charged with negligence was not acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident, there is no jurisdiction in the district court and the case must be remanded to the state court. See 28 U.S.C. § 2679(d). Moreover, the certification filed by the Assistant United States Attorney does not resolve this issue, which is to be determined by the court after a hearing on motion to remand. Seiden v. United States, 537 F.2d 867 (6th Cir. 1976).

 Second, jurisdiction lies under 1346(b) only where the United States would be liable to the plaintiff as a private individual under the law of the place of the accident. Therefore, Pennsylvania agency law, the law of the place of the accident here, is controlling. Williams ...


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