The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge
This matter comes before the Court on Defendant United States of America's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 22), to which plaintiff Darryl A. Randolph filed two Responses (Docs. 30, 33). For the following reasons, the Court grants the United States' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 22).
I. Standard for Summary Judgment
The "primary purpose of summary judgment is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims."Oest v. Ill. Dep't of Corrections, 240 F.3d 605, 610 (7th Cir. 2001). Specifically, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that summary judgment be granted "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).
A fact is material only if it can affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable law. Oest, 240 F.3d at 610 (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A factual dispute is genuine only if a reasonable jury would, based on the evidence, return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. When determining whether there is a genuine issue of material fact, the Court will construe the facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Lloyd v. Swifty Transp., Inc., 552 F.3d 594, 600 (7th Cir. 2009).
The burden of proof is first placed on the moving party to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing Aickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S.144, 159 (1970)). Once the moving party has met this burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. To prevail, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Id.
Quinton Worth, an employee of the United States Postal Service (hereinafter "USPS"), delivered Randolph's mail on April 2, 2007. (Doc. 22-1, p. 5). While on Randolph's property, Worth went to the side of the yard where Randolph's dogs were fenced in and maced them. Id. Randolph's neighbor approached Worth, asked him to stop, and he did after two to three minutes. (Doc. 22-1, p. 7).
When Randolph discovered what happened, he became concerned because one of his dogs had recently had $1,000 worth of veterinary care, and the macing incident aggravated the dog's injury. (Doc. 1, ¶ 2). Randolph spoke with other mail carriers on Randolph's route, and the mail carriers told him they had never had problems with his dogs, nor was there any reason for Worth to approach the dogs because the mail box was on the other side of the yard. (Doc. 1, ¶ 5). Additionally, a supervisor determined that there was no reason for Worth to approach the dogs. Id.
III. Relevant Procedural Posture
Randolph filed an administrative claim against Worth and the East St. Louis Post Office (hereinafter "Post Office") with the USPS Tort Claims Accounting Service Center (hereinafter "Center") in accordance with the Federal Tort Claims Act (hereinafter "FTCA")*fn1 . 28 U.S.C. § 2675(a). The Center found that Randolph failed to establish that the Post Office and Worth were negligent, and denied his claim on December 13, 2007. (Doc. 22-1). Randolph filed for reconsideration, and the Center denied his claim again. (Doc. 22-1). The final denial was mailed on December 20, 2007. (Doc. 22-1).
Randolph filed his claim in federal court on June 23, 2008. (Doc. 1). The Post Office and Worth filed a Motion to Substitute Party (Doc. 21), which the Court granted (Doc. 24), and the United States was substituted as the defendant. The United States filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, to which Randolph filed a Response (Doc. 30). The Court then converted the motion into a Motion for Summary Judgment and ...