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EDWARDS v. UNITED STATES

October 13, 1993

STANLEY EDWARDS
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and MILLAR ELEVATOR SERVICES CO.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BY THE COURT; J. CURTIS JOYNER

 JOYNER, J.

 October 13, 1993

 The instant civil action is now before the Court upon the Motion of the Defendant, United States of America to Dismiss the Plaintiff's Complaint or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment. For the reasons which follow, the motion is granted and Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed with prejudice.

 I. HISTORY OF THE CASE

 The underlying facts in this matter, as stated in the complaint, may be briefly outlined in the following manner. On May 21, 1991, the plaintiff, Stanley Edwards, was working in the General Services Administration Building located at 5000 Wissahickon Avenue in Philadelphia when his left hand became engaged in the doors of a freight elevator, thereby injuring him. At the time of this accident, Mr. Edwards was an employee of the General Services Administration and was acting in the course and scope of his employment. The General Services Administration is an agency of the United States Government and, according to the allegations set forth in the complaint, was responsible for ensuring that the elevator in question was maintained in good working order. The plaintiff further alleges that both the United States Government and Millar Elevator Services Co. were negligent and grossly negligent in that they "failed to maintain the premises in a proper manner and failed to employ and instruct personnel who were sufficiently qualified to maintain, inspect, [and] repair the aforesaid elevator thereby allowing said elevator to remain in a hazardous and unsafe condition."

 II. DISCUSSION

 By way of the motion which is presently before the court, Defendant United States contends that since Plaintiff was a government employee at the time he was injured, his sole and exclusive remedy is that provided under the Federal Employee Compensation Act, 5 U.S.C. § 8101, et. seq. Consequently, the U.S. asserts, Mr. Edwards is precluded from pursuing this cause of action against it under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2671, et. seq.

 The standards governing the disposition of motions to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and motions for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 are nearly identical. While a 12(b)(6) motion is generally employed to challenge the legal sufficiency of a claim or pleading filed in the district courts, a Rule 56 motion may be filed where a party wishes the court to ascertain whether a complaint's allegations have sufficient factual support to warrant their consideration at trial. See: Liberty Lobby, Inc. v. Dow Jones & Co., 267 U.S. App. D.C. 337, 838 F.2d 1287 (D.C.Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 825, 109 S. Ct. 75, 102 L. Ed. 2d 51 (1988); United States v. Marisol, Inc., 725 F. Supp. 833 (M.D.Pa. 1989). In both situations, the court must accept as true all of the matters pleaded and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, construing them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. 477 U.S. 242, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986); Markowitz v. Northeast Land Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3rd Cir. 1990). A complaint is properly dismissed only if it appears certain that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 78 S. Ct. 99, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957); Ransom v. Marrazzo, 848 F.2d 398 (3rd Cir. 1988). Likewise, summary judgment is properly entered only "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

 5 U.S.C. § 8102(a) sets forth the general principles governing the payment of compensation benefits by the federal government to injured employees. Specifically, that section provides:

 
(a) The United States shall pay compensation as specified by this subchapter for the disability or death of an employee resulting from personal injury sustained while in the performance of his duty, unless the injury or death is--
 
(1) caused by willful misconduct of the employee;
 
(2) caused by the employee's intention to bring about the injury or death of ...

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