Two men from the D.C. area are suing Rep. Paul Ryan and his chief of staff for $100,000, alleging negligent driving caused Ryan's top aide to rear-end their car while he was driving his boss' vehicle.
Santos Perez, the driver, and Adan Bamaca Cajas, a passenger in Perez's vehicle, claim they sustained concussions and spinal damage in the Feb. 25, 2014, collision on northbound Interstate 395. Their lawsuit contends that Kevin Seifert was acting in the course and scope of his duties as the Wisconsin Republican's chief of staff that morning, while he was behind the wheel of Ryan's vehicle. Ryan was not in the car at the time of the incident. In court documents filed this month, first exposed by National Law Journal, the plaintiffs state that Seifert was not paying close enough attention to the road or maintaining a safe distance from their vehicle, "which was lawfully stopped on the roadway due to traffic ahead." Seifert denied the allegations of negligence in a response filed by his attorney, and has demanded proof of the damages.
The Justice Department stepped in on March 10, asking the court to dismiss the case. The argument states Seifert was transporting the congressman's vehicle when the accident occurred, and is thus shielded by sovereign immunity.
DOJ also argues that Perez and Cajas must first file an administrative claim with the House of Representatives if they wish to file suit, and by not doing so, have failed to exhaust their administrative remedies.
No hearing has yet been scheduled on the case, now before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Asked for comment, a spokesman for the congressman called it "a routine process for matters involving House employees acting in the scope of their duties" that is being handled by DOJ and House counsel.
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