U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan - chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and the Republican Party’s 2012 vice presidential candidate - and his chief of staff are being sued for $100,000 by a pair of Washington, D.C.-area men who claim injuries in a 2014 car accident.
According to court records obtained by the News4 I-Team, Washington, D.C. resident Santos Perez claims to be the victim of unsafe driving by Ryan's chief of staff, Kevin Seifert. In court filings, Perez and his attorneys said Seifert was driving Ryan's vehicle along I-395 northbound in D.C. when Seifert rear-ended Perez's car.
In those same filings, Perez said he and his passenger, Hyattsville, Maryland resident Adan Cajas, were injured because Seifert failed to keep a safe distance and maintain a safe speed.
An attorney representing Perez and Cajas said Perez suffered a "closed head injury," a concussion and nausea because of the accident.
The U.S. Justice Department, which is representing Ryan (R-WI) and Seifert, has filed a motion with the U.S. District Court in Washington to dismiss the lawsuit.
In their arguments, Justice Department attorneys said the accident occurred on the morning of February 25, 2014 and that "Representative Ryan was not in the motor vehicle with Mr. Seifert at the time of the motor vehicle accident," according to a court filing.
"Mr. Seifert is an employee of Representative Ryan and was acting within the scope of his employment when the motor vehicle accident occurred," the filing reads.
In their filings, the Justice Department also said, "It is well settled that 'the [sic] United States may not be sued without its consent and that the existence of consent is a prerequisite for jurisdiction." The plaintiffs, the filing claims, hadn't exhausted administrative remedies available to them.
The Justice Department also said, "Absent a waiver of sovereign immunity, the federal government is immune from suit."
Attorneys for the plaintiffs did not return immediate requests for comment. Robert Swift, a spokesman for Ryan, said it is customary for the U.S. Department of Justice to handle claims against members of Congress.
Swift said, "This is a routine process by House general counsel for matters involving House employees acting in the scope of their duties."
A Justice Department spokesman confirmed that an accident had occurred, but that he could not comment on any specifics.
An April 10 court date, for an initial conference, has been scheduled in the case in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.