Ramseur v. U.S., Civil Action No. WGC-06-2995.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
Writing for the CourtWilliam Connelly
Citation587 F.Supp.2d 672
PartiesJoann Jeffries RAMSEUR, Plaintiff (pro se), v. UNITED STATES of America, Defendant.
Docket NumberCivil Action No. WGC-06-2995.
Decision Date31 October 2007
587 F.Supp.2d 672
Joann Jeffries RAMSEUR, Plaintiff (pro se),
UNITED STATES of America, Defendant.
Civil Action No. WGC-06-2995.
United States District Court, D. Maryland.
October 31, 2007.

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Joann Jeffries Ramseur, Capitol Heights, MD, pro se.

Allen F. Loucks, Jason Daniel Medinger, Office of the United States Attorney, Baltimore, MD, for Defendant.

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WILLIAM CONNELLY, United States Magistrate Judge.

Pro Se Plaintiff, Joann Jeffries Ramseur ("Ms. Ramseur"), brought this action against Defendant, the United States of America ("United States"), alleging negligence by the United States in placing an "outdoor" mat with perforation holes ("perforated mat") inside a post office. The left heel of Ms. Ramseur's shoe was caught in one of the perforation holes causing her to fall. One of her left toes was fractured. The parties consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge for all further proceedings in the case and the entry of a final judgment. See Document Nos. 11-15. Pending before the Court and ready for resolution are Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Document No. 22) and Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (Document No. 23). No hearing is deemed necessary and the Court now rules pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2004).


In the early afternoon of May 13, 2005, Ms. Ramseur and her daughter, Desiree, arrived at the Largo Post Office ("Post Office") to collect their mail from a post office box. Ms. Ramseur noticed banners, food, and festival materials promoting an eBay presentation within the Post Office. Ms. Ramseur expressed an interest in attending the presentation and asked Desiree if she wanted to accompany her. Desiree declined and elected to remain in the car and rest.

Upon entering the Post Office, Ms. Ramseur collected her mail and then inquired about the eBay presentation. A postal employee told Ms. Ramseur that she could attend the presentation in a conference room of the Post Office. Ms. Ramseur walked into the room.

The conference room was well-lit. The podium where the speaker stood was horizontally across from the door. Because the eBay presentation was in progress Ms. Ramseur walked diagonally across towards the back of the conference room and sat in a chair beside a wall near the rear of the conference room. When Ms. Ramseur entered the conference room, she either walked across or around a perforated mat. This mat was in the middle of the conference room, positioned vertically in relation to the podium. Mem. Law Supp. Def.'s Cross-Motion Summ. J. ("Def.'s Mem."), Ex. A (Ex. # 1—Diagram). Ms. Ramseur does not recall seeing or walking across or around the mat upon entering the conference room because she was focused on entering the room quietly. "I look down but usually I don't look down when I'm walking into a room." Id., Ex. A (Ramseur Dep. 30:18-19). The mail Ms. Ramseur carried as she walked into the conference room did not obstruct her view. Id., Ex. A (Ramseur Dep. 30:23-31:7).

After the presentation Ms. Ramseur had some questions for the speaker so she moved to a chair closer to the podium. The speaker sat in a chair next to Ms. Ramseur and they conversed for approximately five to ten minutes. Upon the completion of their conversation, Ms. Ramseur shook the speaker's hand, got out of her chair, and started walking towards the door. The lighting remained well-lit. While walking towards the door Ms. Ramseur fell forward onto the floor with her head landing very near the door. The heel of Ms. Ramseur's left shoe became "trapped" in one of the holes of the perforated mat.

Immediately after falling Ms. Ramseur felt a sharp pain radiate through her left foot. Several individuals, including the Postmaster, Reggie Rabon, and a postal employee, Tonya Duckett, came to her aid

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inquiring if she was all right. Because of the sharp pain it took a minute or two before Ms. Ramseur was able to get off the floor. Ms. Ramseur was guided to another room where she sat down. She was provided an ice pack. Ms. Ramseur asked someone to tell her daughter what had happened. According to Ms. Ramseur, Mr. Rabon, the Postmaster, commented that placing the mat in the middle of the floor was not a good idea and that if a woman had been involved in the decision, a woman would have foreseen the danger. Mr. Rabon also informed Ms. Ramseur that she could file a tort claim. He gave Ms. Ramseur his business card.

Ms. Ramseur remained seated for approximately 20 minutes. The ice pack never became cold. The pain in her left foot intensified.

With the assistance of a postal employee, Ms. Ramseur walked to the lobby of the Post Office. Meanwhile, Desiree had positioned the car as close to the entrance as possible. A postal employee helped Ms. Ramseur enter the car.

Desiree drove Ms. Ramseur to the Doctors Community Hospital's emergency room. During the intake Ms. Ramseur's blood pressure was taken and found to be rather high. Ms. Ramseur had not taken her blood pressure medication that day. Id., Ex. A (Ramseur Dep. 42:18-22). Her left foot was x-rayed. The x-ray showed the middle toe of the left foot had a "comminuted fracture."1

The fractured toe was "buddy taped"; Ms. Ramseur was advised on how to use crutches and was given a post orthopedic shoe. Before her release Ms. Ramseur was provided instructions, follow up directions and prescribed two medications for pain: Motrin and Vicodin. Ms. Ramseur used these medications sparingly for about two weeks. See id., Ex. A (Ramseur Dep. 44:1-45:8).

Ms. Ramseur made an appointment with Dr. Stephen D. Webber, Orthopedic Specialist, for a follow up. Dr. Webber examined her on May 18, 2005 and confirmed the diagnosis of a fractured toe. Because of her injury Ms. Ramseur could not fulfill her commitment as a substitute teacher and Dr. Webber provided Ms. Ramseur a disability certificate declaring Ms. Ramseur is totally incapacitated from May 18-June 13, 2005. See Document No. 22, Ex. I. Ms. Ramseur used the crutches for about three to four weeks. Ms. Ramseur had a follow up appointment with Dr. Webber on June 15, 2005. See Def.'s Mem., Ex. E. Ms. Ramseur was released from Dr. Webber's care. He cautioned her that it would take some time for the swelling to subside.

When the swelling subsided Ms. Ramseur noticed her damaged toe was shorter and she lacked the range of mobility for this middle toe as well as the two outer toes that she had before the accident. She had worn the surgical boot on her left foot for approximately three and a half months. In August 2006, Ms. Ramseur discovered that the toe nail of the damaged middle toe was not growing. Two years after the accident Ms. Ramseur still experiences stabbing pains around the damaged middle toe and cannot wear the majority of her shoes without pain. Her stance has been affected with the formation of calluses on two parts of her left foot.


On September 27, 2005, Gregory C. Faison, Tort Claims, Tort Claims Investigations Capital District, United States Postal Service, mailed a Standard Form ("SF")

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95, Claim for Damage, Injury, or Death accompanied by a letter with instructions to Ms. Ramseur. See Document No. 22, Ex. L (Letter from Faison to Ramseur of 9/27/05). Ms. Ramseur completed the SF 95 and mailed it to the United States Post Office, Tort Claims, on or about November 17, 2005. See id., Ex. M. Ms. Ramseur claimed $50.00 as property damage for her broken sandals and $500,000.00 as personal injury for her "broken" toe. Id. In a letter dated May 19, 2006, Ann E. Mandernach, Tort Claims Examiner/Adjudicator acknowledged receipt of Ms. Ramseur's SF 95 and advised:

[B]efore this claim can be considered for adjudication it must be supported by competent evidence, defined within the SF95 claim form as follows:

(a) in support of the claim for personal injury or death, the claimant should submit a written report by the attending physician, showing the nature and extent of injury, the nature and extent of treatment, the degree of permanent disability, if any, the prognosis and the period of hospitalization or incapacitation, attaching itemized bills for medical, hospital, or burial expenses actually incurred.

Medical documentation should be in the form of medical records, physician's reports, SOAP notes, x-rays, hospital records and reports, medical bills/billings etc. for treatment you received as a result of this accident.

As soon as possible, please submit these materials to my attention. If you do not submit these materials, we will be unable to properly evaluate the claim and will have no recourse but to issue a denial.

Id., Ex. N (Letter from Mandernach to Ramseur of 5/19/06).

Less than a month later, on June 8, 2006, Ms. Mandernach sent a second letter to Ms. Ramseur, stating in pertinent part:

The Postal Service is not legally obligated to pay all losses which may occur, but only those caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of an employee acting in the scope of his/her employment. We are guided in our determination by all the information available to us, including the reports of our personnel and any other persons acquainted with the facts.

As to the incident at issue, an investigation of this matter failed to establish a negligent act or omission on the part of the U.S. Postal Service or its employees. While we regret any injury that may have occurred, we cannot accept legal liability for these alleged damages. Accordingly, this claim is denied.

In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 2401(b) and 39 C.F.R. 912.9(a), if dissatisfied with the Postal Service's final denial of an administrative claim, a claimant may file suit in a United States District Court no later than six (6) months after the date the Postal Service mails the notice of that final action ... Further, note the United States of America is the only proper defendant in a...

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