United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ESTATE OF SKYLER JUSTICE ANDERSON-COUGHLIN, et al., Plaintiffs,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS
Jeffrey Alker Meyer, United States District Judge.
Todd Anderson and Seana Coughlin bring this action in their
capacity as co-administrators of the estate of their deceased
son, Skyler Anderson-Coughlin. They seek to hold the United
States liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for the
tragic death of their son after his car was struck by a
tractor trailer truck that was carrying U.S. mail. I will
dismiss this lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction because none of
plaintiffs' claims are cognizable under the Federal Tort
early evening of November 10, 2013, Skyler Anderson-Coughlin
was driving north on Interstate 91 in Longmeadow,
Massachusetts. He died after his car was struck in the rear
by a tractor trailer that was hauling U.S. mail from North
Carolina to Massachusetts.
driver of the tractor trailer was Anatoliy Untilov. He worked
for a company known as Stepanov Trucking, which in turn was a
subcontractor for a company known as Beam Brothers, Inc.
(“Beam”). The United States Postal Service
contracted with Beam to be a Highway Contract Route Supplier
(“supplier”). Beam's role as a supplier was
to haul bulk mail along specified routes pursuant to the
terms of its contract with the Postal Service.
perform its obligations under the supplier contract, Beam was
required to furnish its own vehicles and equipment, as well
as to pay for the fuel necessary to operate its vehicles.
Beam was solely responsible for the maintenance of its
equipment and for insuring motor vehicles used in the
performance of its Postal Service contract.
was also required to provide its own drivers. The Postal
Service did not pay or provide any benefits to drivers
operating under the contract with Beam. The Postal Service
could not terminate drivers that were hired by or on behalf
to the supplier contract, the Postal Service required Beam,
in broad terms, to employ personnel to perform operations
under the contract who were suitable for the performance of
the contract. The contract required contract employees to be
able to perform the required duties, to be reliable and
trustworthy, to appear neat and clean, and to conduct
themselves professionally. But Beam, as the supplier under
the contract, was responsible for ensuring that its employees
satisfied the guidelines of the Postal Service.
supplier contract also permitted Beam to subcontract for the
services to be performed under the contract. Subcontractors
like Stepanov Trucking were required to meet all of the same
capability and qualification requirements as the prime
contract supplier. But Beam as the prime supplier was
required to “supervise . . . the operations of its
subcontractors which provide services under [the] contract
personally or through representatives.” Doc. #39-2 at
order for any contract drivers to haul U.S. mail and to
access postal facilities, they were required to be determined
eligible by the Postal Service. Untilov was twice determined
to be eligible by the Postal Service, once in 2008 and again
document titled “Management Instruction
PO-530-2009-4” set forth the procedures for screening
contractor personnel and determining if they were eligible to
haul U.S. mail. See Doc. #40-1. According to this
Management Instruction, the supplier was required to provide
the following items to an administrative official at the
Postal Service: a contract personnel questionnaire filled out
by the applicant, an authorization and release for a
background investigation, a fingerprint card, and a copy of
the driver's current driving record. The Postal
Inspection Service was then responsible for reviewing the
forms, performing the required background checks, and
adjudicating the clearance application.
driver would not be eligible if he had certain criminal
history circumstances, such as a felony conviction within the
previous five years, an outstanding arrest warrant, or a
conviction for stealing mail. Nor would a driver be eligible
if, in the previous five years, he had more than two reckless
or careless driving convictions, more than two at-fault
accidents, or more than five moving violations (or three or
more for the same offense). Additionally, the applicant could
not have any drug convictions or convictions for leaving the
scene of an accident.
filed this lawsuit on September 9, 2016. On November 11,
2016, defendant moved to dismiss the action for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction under the Federal Tort Claims
Act. On April 17, 2017, a hearing was held on the motion. In
an oral ruling, I denied the motion without prejudice to
defendant's refiling its motion after allowing plaintiff
to conduct ...