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Jupiter v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

November 21, 2014

CLARENCE JUPITER, Plaintiff
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant

Clarence S. Jupiter, Plaintiff, Pro se, Atwater, CA.

For United States Of America, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Food Service Department, Health Services Department, Defendants: Justin Blewitt, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorney's Office, Scranton, PA.

Martin C. Carlson, United States Magistrate Judge. (Judge Caputo).

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

Martin C. Carlson, United States Magistrate Judge.

I. Statement of Facts and of the Case.

" There are no second acts in American lives." F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald's observation regarding the absence of second acts in life embraces a fundamental truth both in life and in litigation. In litigation, as in life, one typically does not have the option of doing the same thing over and over again. This is a lesson which has apparently been lost on the plaintiff in this case, Clarence Jupiter, who now seeks to try the same case twice.

The pro se plaintiff is a federal prisoner, who was formerly housed at the United States Penitentiary-Canaan in the summer of 2011. On June 10, 2013, Jupiter filed a complaint in this Court against the United States in Jupiter v. United States, Civil No. 3: 13-CV-1544, alleging that in June of 2011 the prison served inmates chicken fajitas. According to the plaintiff, the chicken was bad, and was tainted with salmonella bacteria. Consequently, the plaintiff contracted food poisoning, and suffered excruciating pain and symptoms which included headaches, diarrhea, abdominal pains, nausea, chills, vomiting, inability to eat and profuse sweating. Alleging negligence on the part of the prison in the preparation and service of this food, the plaintiff brought this action seeking damages from the United States, pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2675, et seq .

On May 28, 2014, this Court dismissed Jupiter's original complaint without prejudice, citing Jupiter's failure to fully exhaust his administrative tort remedies prior to filing this lawsuit. Jupiter v. United States, Civil No. 3:13-CV-1544. (Doc. 44.) The following day, May 29, 2014, Jupiter executed a settlement agreement with the United States, settling his claims arising out of this food poisoning episode. (Doc. 18, sealed.)

This settlement agreement provided in clear and precise terms that Jupiter would forego any and all claims arising out of this incident in return for the payment of a sum of money by the United States, stating:

2. [This] sum shall be in full settlement and satisfaction of any and all claims, demands, rights, and causes of action of whatsoever kind and nature, arising from, and by reason of any and any known and unknown, foreseen and unforeseen bodily and personal injuries, damage to property and the consequences thereof, resulting, and to result, from the subject matter of this settlement, including any claims for wrongful death, for which plaintiff or his guardians, heirs, executors, administrators, or assigns, and each of them, now have or may hereafter acquire against the United States of America, its agents, servants, and employees.
3. Plaintiff and his guardians, heirs, executors, administrators, or assigns hereby agree to accept the sums set forth in this Stipulation for Compromise Settlement and Release in full settlement and satisfaction of any and all claims, demands, rights, and causes of action of whatsoever kind and nature, including claims for wrongful death, arising from, and by reason of any and all known and unknown, foreseen and unforeseen bodily and personal injuries, damage to property and the consequences thereof which they may have or hereafter acquire against the United States of America, its agents, servants, and employees on account of the same subject matter that gave rise to the above-captioned action, including any future claim or lawsuit of any kind or type wha1soever, whether known or unknown, and whether for compensatory or exemplary damages. Plaintiff and his guardians, heirs, executors, administrators, or assigns further agree to reimburse, indemnify and hold harmless the United States of America, its agents, servants, and employees from and against any and all such causes of action, claims, liens, rights, or subrogated or contribution interests incident to or resulting from further litigation or the prosecution of claims by plaintiff or his guardians, heirs, executors, administrators, or assigns against any third party or against the United States, including claims for wrongful death.
4. The parties further understand and agree that all individual defendants who have been named in this case are dismissed from the case with prejudice, and that no claims against any individual defendants arising from the acts and allegations complained of in the complaint survive this settlement agreement and release.

(Doc. 18.)

Despite Jupiter's express commitment in this settlement agreement to forego any further claims arising out of this incident, less than one month later, on June 23, 2014, the plaintiff sought a second act in this litigative drama, when he filed this pro se complaint seeking damages the government as a result of this food poisoning episode. (Doc. 1.) The United States has now moved to dismiss Jupiter's second act in this litigation, arguing that the settlement of Jupiter's first case precludes him from relitigating this matter. (Docs. 11 and 12.) Jupiter has responded to this motion, (Docs. 14 and 15.), and has also filed a motion to further amend his complaint to add individual government employees to this new lawsuit. (Doc. 16.) Jupiter takes this action even though he has agreed in writing that " no claims against any individual ...


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