United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Big Stone Gap Division
Christopher Bartee, Pro Se Plaintiff.
M. Sullivan, Special Assistant United States Attorney,
Charlotte, North Carolina, for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Jones, United States District Judge.
plaintiff brought this action because he alleges that he was
injured during the course of his employment with the Federal
Bureau of Prisons. The defendant has moved to dismiss the
case because the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act
provides the exclusive remedy for the plaintiff’s
claim, thereby precluding this court from exercising
subject-matter jurisdiction. I agree that this court does not
have subject-matter jurisdiction, and I will grant the
following facts are taken from the plaintiff’s
Complaint and relevant documents, with every reasonable
inference made in favor of the plaintiff.
plaintiff is employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the
United States Penitentiary located in Lee County, Virginia
("USP Lee"). He claims that on multiple occasions,
USP Lee correctional officer Noland Crowe threatened him with
bodily harm. The plaintiff reported the threats to his
supervisors, and a workplace violence committee hearing was
held on January 21, 2013, to address the allegations. While
Crowe agreed during the hearing that he would not threaten or
assault the plaintiff, Crowe allegedly made further threats
after the hearing ended. On April 8, 2013, while both men
were on duty at USP Lee, Crowe assaulted the plaintiff. The
plaintiff claims that this assault caused him serious injury.
April 15, 2013, the plaintiff applied for benefits pursuant
to the Federal Employees Compensation Act ("FECA").
The Secretary of Labor declared him eligible for such
benefits via a letter that was sent on July 15, 2013. The
plaintiff began to receive his FECA benefits on July 19,
2013, and he continues to receive those benefits today.
April 1, 2015, the plaintiff filed an administrative claim
with the Bureau of Prisons. In that claim he requested $1.2
million, pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act
("FTCA"), for the injury caused by Crowe. The
Bureau of Prisons denied the claim by letter dated May 14,
2015. The plaintiff subsequently filed this action on
November 12, 2015, and the defendant filed the subject motion
on April 8, 2016. On May 2, 2016, I ordered the plaintiff to
respond to the defendant’s motion by no later than May
23, 2016. No such response was ever filed, and the matter is
ripe for decision.
defendant submits a Rule 12(b)(1) challenge to the factual
basis for subject-matter jurisdiction, the burden of proving
such jurisdiction is on the plaintiff. Adams v.
Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982). "In
determining whether jurisdiction exists, the district court
is to regard the pleadings’ allegations as mere
evidence on the issue, and may consider evidence outside the
pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for
summary judgment." Richmond, Fredericksburg &
Potomac R.R. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th
Cir. 1991). If the material jurisdictional facts are not in
dispute and the defendant has effectively challenged
jurisdiction, then the case should be dismissed. See
id. Here, the defendant argues that the plaintiff
received FECA compensation for the same injury that he now
complains of, thus precluding this court from exercising
gives a remedy to federal employees who are injured during
the course of their employment. 5 U.S.C. § 8102(a). This
remedy is similar to the workers’ compensation
mechanism that is available to employees in the private
sector. The Secretary of Labor has sole discretion to
determine whether an injury warrants FECA coverage, and that
decision is not subject to judicial review. 5 U.S.C. §
8128(b); see Aponte v. United States, 940 F.Supp.
898, 900 (E.D. N.C. 1996).
injury qualifies for FECA benefits, then FECA "is
exclusive and instead of all other liability of the United
States." 5 U.S.C. § 8116(c). In other words, a
"[f]ederal employees’ injuries that are
compensable under FECA cannot be compensated under other
federal remedial statutes, including the Federal Tort Claims
Act." Wallace v. United States, 669 F.2d 947,
951 (4th Cir. 1982). This lost right to sue under the FTCA
occurs as a trade-off for the quick and more certain recovery
that is available under the FECA. See Lockheed Aircraft
Corp. v. United States, 460 U.S. 190, 193-94 (1983)
("In enacting this provision, Congress adopted the
principal compromise - the ‘quid pro quo’ -
commonly found in workers’ compensation legislation:
employees are guaranteed the right to receive immediate,
fixed benefits, regardless of fault and without need for
litigation, but in return they lose the right to sue the
Government.") "Consequently, the courts have no
jurisdiction over FTCA claims where the Secretary determines
that FECA applies." Sw. Marine, Inc. v. Gizoni,
502 U.S. 81, 90 (1991); see also Aponte at 900.
evidence presented to me shows that the plaintiff applied for
and received FECA benefits for the same injury that he now
complains of. The defendant has provided the July 15, 2013,
letter from the Department of Labor that evidences the
plaintiff’s FECA award (ECF No. 7-2), and has further
provided an declaration from USP Lee’s Environmental
Safety and Compliance Administrator who helped the plaintiff
secure FECA benefits. (ECF No. 7-1.) The affidavit confirms
that the plaintiff was deemed eligible for and received FECA
compensation. The defendant has not created any dispute on
this point. I ...