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Cody v. Veltri

May 21, 2007

ARGENTRA CODY, INMATE #27245-044, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DARLENE A. VELTRI, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, an inmate currently in the Carswell Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, brings this action pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §1346, 2671-2680.

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides, in pertinent part:

(a) Screening.-- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds that the sole claim of the complaint may not be dismissed at this point in the litigation.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff, a federal prisoner, alleges that during a transfer from the Federal Prison Camp in Greenville, Illinois, to the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, all of her personal property, valued at $1300.00, was lost. Plaintiff filed a claim with the Bureau of Prisons seeking the replacement value of the lost items. On October 27, 2005, the Bureau of Prisons made a written offer of $400 to settle the claim. The letter offering the settlement indicated that if Plaintiff did not accept the offer, the letter should be considered the agency's official final denial of claim. Plaintiff states she rejected the agency offer. She commenced this action April 14, 2006.

LEGAL STANDARDS

Federal Prisoners may bring suit against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA") for tortious injuries they sustain while incarcerated. See Palay v. United States, 349 F.3d 418, 425 (7th Cir. 2003). However, they must first present the claim to the federal agency responsible for the injury. Id. Under the act,

An action shall not be instituted upon a claim against the United States for money damages for injury or loss of property or personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the government while acting within the scope of his office or employment, unless the claimant shall have first presented the claim to the appropriate Federal agency and his claim shall have been finally denied by the agency in writing and sent by certified or registered mail. The failure of an agency to make final disposition of a claim within six months after it is filed shall, at the option of the claimant any time thereafter, be deemed a final denial of the claim for purposes of this section.

28 U.S.C. ยง 2675(a). Plaintiffs bringing claims under the FTCA generally show exhaustion by filing with their complaint a copy of the "final denial of claim" letter indicating that agency review has been completed and the individual may seek relief in court. Plaintiff includes with her complaint a copy of the "final denial of claim" letter ...


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