United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HERNDON, District Judge
before the Court is defendant Office of Personnel
Management's (hereinafter “defendant” or
“OPM”) motion to dismiss plaintiff Madelaine
Sattlefield's (hereinafter “plaintiff” or
“Sattlefield”) second amended complaint
(“complaint”) for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1) (Doc. 34). In her response to OPM's motion to
dismiss (Doc. 37), plaintiff contends that this court has
subject matter jurisdiction over her claim pursuant to the
Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”). OPM filed
a reply arguing that dismissal is warranted because the Court
of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has exclusive jurisdiction
over plaintiff's claim. For the reasons explained below,
the Court GRANTS defendant's motion to dismiss.
Madelaine Sattlefield in her complaint alleges that she began
working as a mail handler for the U.S. Postal Service at its
St. Louis branch on September 9, 2000 (Doc. 32, ¶ 7). On
August 26, 2009, she suffered a torn rotator cuff in the
course of her employment as a mail handler. Id. at
¶ 8. She sought medical attention and subsequently began
physical therapy while working night shifts. Id. at
¶ 9. When physical therapy proved unsuccessful, she
underwent shoulder surgery on February 1, 2010. Id.
at ¶ 10. Plaintiff's doctors predicted that it would
take six to eight weeks for her to recover, but in fact
complications delayed her return to work for four months.
Id. Sattlefield alleges that her supervisors
pressured her into returning to work before she was fully
recovered and failed to adequately accommodate her injury.
Id. at ¶¶ 11-12. She attempted to work
through the pain, but ultimately needed to take additional
time off to manage the pain and continue her recovery from
surgery. Id. at ¶ 13. Sattlefield was
eventually terminated from her employment at the U.S. Postal
Service, apparently for poor attendance. Id. at
¶ 14-15; Doc. 37, Ex. A.
April 12, 2012, Sattlefield filed an application with OPM for
disability retirement based on a rotator cuff injury, as well
as several other medical conditions. Doc. 37, Ex. A; Doc. 37,
Ex. B. On June 28, 2012 OPM issued a decision denying her
application. Doc. 37, Ex. B. On February 8, 2013, Sattlefield
requested OPM to reconsider its initial decision to deny her
application. Doc. 37, Ex. B. OPM denied her request to
reconsider its initial decision. Doc. 37, Ex. A; Doc. 37, Ex.
B. On September 9, 2013, she appealed OPM's denial of her
reconsideration request to the Merit Systems Protection Board
(“MSPB”). Doc. 37, Ex. B. The MSPB upheld
OPM's denial of her reconsideration request. Id.
Sattlefield petitioned for Board Review of the MSPB decision,
and on October 7, 2014, an MSPB panel issued a Final Order
denying her petition for review and affirming OPM's
initial decision to deny her application for disability
retirement. Doc. 37, Ex. A. The panel's Final Order
contained detailed findings and concluded that the evidence
was insufficient to establish that Sattlefield's various
medical conditions, alone or together, rendered her disabled
for purposes of disability retirement eligibility. Doc. 37,
Ex. A. The MSPB's Final Order stated that Sattlefield had
the right to request review of the Final Order by the United
States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Doc. 37, Ex.
A. It does not appear that Sattlefield appealed the
MSPB's Final Order.
October 20, 2014, Sattlefield filed a second application with
OPM for disability retirement resulting from a torn rotator
cuff and other medical conditions. Doc. 37, Ex. B. OPM denied
her second application because “the medical evidence
[did] not support a new or different condition” from
those listed on her initial application for disability
retirement. Doc. 37, Ex. B. In its July 14, 2015
correspondence to Sattlefield, OPM also refers to the
“U.S. Court of Appeals” as the means to appeal
the MSPB's Final Order. Doc. 37, Ex. B.
Motion to Dismiss
is “the ‘power to declare law, ' and without
it the federal courts cannot proceed.” Hay v.
Indiana State Bd. Of Tax Com'rs, 312 F.3d 876, 879
(7th Cir. 2002) (quoting Ruhrgas v. Marathon Oil
Co., 526 U.S. 574, 577, 583 (1999)). As courts of
limited jurisdiction, federal courts “possess only that
power authorized by Constitution and statute, which is not to
be expanded by judicial decree.” United States v.
Wahi, 850 F.3d 296, 299 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994)). Subject matter jurisdiction is the
court's constitutional or statutory power to adjudicate a
particular dispute or type of dispute. Lightfoot v.
Cendant Mortg. Corp., 137 S.Ct. 553, 560 (2017).
motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is
made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). A
Rule 12(b)(1) motion challenges the court's subject
matter jurisdiction over the case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). A
party may challenge subject matter jurisdiction at any point,
and the court must dismiss the action if it determines that
it lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).
On a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), the burden of
proof rests on the plaintiff. Commodity Trend Serv., Inc.
v. Commodity Futures Trading Comm'n, 149 F.3d 679,
685 (7th Cir. 1998). In determining whether subject matter
jurisdiction exists, the Court is “not bound to accept
the truth of the allegations in the complaint” but
“may properly look to evidence beyond the
pleadings.” Id.; Hay, 312 F.3d at 879
(stating that district court had “not only the right,
but the duty to look beyond the allegations of the complaint
to determine that it had jurisdiction to hear the
these principles in mind, the Court now turns to address
merits of OPM's motion to dismiss.
complaint contains a single count, which appears to allege
that OPM's denial of her application for disability
retirement violated her constitutional due process rights in
several respects. Doc 32, ¶¶ 18-20. First, she
claims that OPM and the MSPB failed to send her a copy of the
MSPB Final Order explaining her appeal rights and the
procedures for filing a petition with the Court of Appeals
for the Federal Circuit.Id. at ¶ 18. Second, she
contends that OPM and the MSPB relied on evidence of her poor
attendance which was actually attributable to authorized
maternity leave. Id. at ¶ 19(1). Third, she
claims that OPM and the MSPB failed to properly consider
documentation from certain physicians. Id. at ¶
19(2). Fourth, she alleges that OPM and the MSPB failed to
consider her grant of disability benefits from the ...