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CUYLER v. U.S.

March 9, 1999

GRETCHEN D. CUYLER, SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF CHRISTIAN CUYLER, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marovich, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Gretchen D. Cuyler ("Cuyler"), Special Administrator of the Estate of Christian Cuyler ("Decedent"), deceased, filed a Complaint against the United States of America ("United States") pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b). The United States presently moves to dismiss Cuyler's Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the motion.

BACKGROUND*fn1

For "a long period of time prior to September 1, 1994," Edwena D. Higgs ("Higgs") allegedly operated and provided unauthorized, officially unapproved and unlicenced day care and babysitting services. (Cmplt. ¶ 6.) Higgs, a dependant of an enlisted individual with the Navy, allegedly provided these services in officially assigned United States Naval Housing in Great Lakes, Illinois "with the actual and/or constructive knowledge of the United States Navy." (Id.)

On or about August 1, 1994 through August 4, 1994, Higgs babysat Antonious Norman ("Baby Norman"), the sixteen month old son of an active Navy enlisted man, Anthony Norman ("Norman"). Cuyler alleges that, during the babysitting, Higgs physically beat and abused Baby Norman, causing him to sustain certain external and readily-apparent visible injuries. When Norman observed his son's injuries after picking him up from Higgs' residence on August 4, 1994, Norman took his son to the Great Lakes Naval Hospital for emergency medical care and treatment.

At the hospital, the hospital personnel who examined and treated Baby Norman, including certain nurses and doctors, were allegedly advised of the suspected beating committed upon the baby by Higgs at her base housing. The various medical personnel, including nurses and attending physicians, allegedly advised Norman that "they would, pursuant to standing orders, procedures and protocol, report and undertake an investigation of his report and suspicions of physical abuse and the beating of his son by . . . Higgs while he was being provided babysitting and day care services at the . . . base housing." (Id. ¶ 10.) Cuyler's Complaint alleges, however, that Higgs' alleged abuse of Baby Norman went unreported.

On September 1, 1994, Higgs babysat the Decedent at her Navy base housing. Allegedly, Higgs negligently and/or intentionally physically abused the Decedent, resulting in the Decedent sustaining personal injuries which ultimately resulted in his death later in the day on September 1, 1994.

Cuyler's Complaint alleges that the United States had a duty, through its agents, to provide safety and security for the foreseeable and intended Navy personnel and dependents, including the Decedent. Cuyler alleges that the United States breached that duty by:

  • negligently and carelessly fail[ing] to follow
    "NAVHOSPGLAKESINST 6320.57C" in direct
    contradiction and contravention of standing orders,
    regulations and protocol of the Department of
    Defense and Department of Navy;
  • negligently and carelessly fail[ing] to advise the
    Nurse of the Day, the Medical Officer of the Day or
    Family Advocacy Representative of the suspected
    severe physical abuse perpetrated by . . . Higgs on
    [Baby] Norman, while said child was in her
    exclusive care, custody and control on or about
    August 4, 1994 and the days preceding that date, in
    violation of NAVHOSPGLAKESINST 6320 .57C and/or
    other orders, regulations or protocol;
  • negligently and carelessly fail[ing] to advise or
    report procedures of all suspected child
    abuse/neglect to the State of Illinois Department
    of Children and Family Services ("DCFS") on the 24
    hour hotline, as required by NAVHOSPGLAKESINST
    6320.57C and/or other orders, regulations, or
    protocol; and
  • were otherwise careless and negligent in the
    administration and operation of the Great Lakes
    Naval Hospital.

(Id. ¶ 13.) Cuyler alleges that the above breaches of duty by agents of the United States were the proximate cause of the Decedent's injuries and subsequent death.

On or about August 26, 1996, Cuyler presented her claim for personal injuries to the Commanding Officer of the Naval Legal Services Officer, Great Lakes, Illinois. On December 19, 1997, Cuyler's claim was denied by the Commanding Officer of the Judge Advocate ...


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