Argued: October 25, 2016
from the United States District Court for the District of
Maryland, at Greenbelt. Paul W. Grimm, District Judge.
Palmer Foret, ASHCRAFT & GEREL, LLP, Rockville, Maryland,
R. White, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Greenbelt,
Maryland, for Appellee.
Mansulla, Peter T. Anderson, ASHCRAFT & GEREL, LLP,
Rockville, Maryland, for Appellant.
Rosenstein, United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED
STATES ATTORNEY, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee.
Michael J. Winkelman, MCCARTHY & WINKELMAN LLP, Lanham,
Maryland, for Amicus Curiae.
NIEMEYER and MOTZ, Circuit Judges, and DAVIS, Senior Circuit
by published opinion. Judge Motz wrote the opinion, in which
Judge Niemeyer and Senior Judge Davis joined.
GRIBBON MOTZ, Circuit Judge
Raplee challenges the dismissal of his Federal Tort Claims
Act ("FTCA") complaint as untimely. In compliance
with state law, Raplee initially filed a medical malpractice
claim with Maryland's alternative dispute resolution
agency. Although he filed with the state agency within the
FTCA's limitations period, he did not file a complaint in
federal court until well after that period had passed. Raplee
contends that by filing a required state administrative
claim, an "action is begun" for the purposes of the
FTCA's limitations period. 28 U.S.C. § 2401(b)
(2012). Alternatively, he asserts that equitable tolling
principles excuse his failure to comply with the limitations
period. Because an "action is begun" under the FTCA
only by filing a civil action in federal district court,
Raplee's claim was untimely. Further, he has not
demonstrated any extraordinary circumstances warranting
equitable tolling. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the
September 2006, Raplee underwent surgery at the National
Institutes of Health, an operating division of the United
States Department of Health and Human Services
("HHS"). Raplee alleges that the surgeons
"negligently position[ed]" him while he was under
anesthesia, resulting in permanent damage to the muscles and
nerves in his left foot.
FTCA renders the United States liable for the torts of its
employees, including the surgeons in this case, "in the
same manner and to the same extent as a private individual
under like circumstances." 28 U.S.C. § 2674. The
FTCA requires a plaintiff pursuing a tort claim to follow a
multi-step process. First, a plaintiff must file his claim
with the appropriate federal agency, which then has the power
to settle or deny it. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2401(b),
2675(a). The plaintiff may file a civil action against the
United States only if the agency has denied the claim. 28
U.S.C. § 2675(a).
November 2006, Raplee retained the law firm Ashcraft &
Gerel, LLP to represent him in his medical malpractice claim
against the United States. On September 16, 2008, Ashcraft
& Gerel, ...