17. Mr. Lucas was not harmed during his overnight detention. The next day, the United States Attorney's Office chose not to proceed with criminal prosecution and Mr. Lucas was released from custody.
18. Mr. Lucas did not suffer any physical injuries as a result of this incident. Nor did he incur any medical expenses. His reputation in the community has not been affected other than by and through his or his family's communication of the incident to other persons.
19. Mr. Lucas had exhausted all of his administrative remedies prior to filing this action.
Based thereon, the Court makes the following:
Conclusions of Law
1. The Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b) and 28 U.S.C. § 2671 et seq. (The Federal Torts Claims Act). None of the deputy marshals has been sued individually in this action, for either common law or constitutional torts.
2. The United States is liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for included tort claims only "in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances" would be. 28 U.S.C. § 2674. The Act explicitly provides that the Government's liability shall be determined "in accordance with the law of the place where the [wrongful] act or omission occurred." 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2672. That is, although federal law and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure control the procedural aspects of a Federal Tort Claims Act suit, state or local law controls the disposition of all substantive tort aspects of the cause, including, inter alia, the issues of scope of employment, respondeat superior, and damages. See e.g., Richards v. United States, 369 U.S. 1, 7 L. Ed. 2d 492, 82 S. Ct. 585 (1962); Jayson, Handling Federal Tort Claims §§ 218, 201.
3. 28 U.S.C. § 2680(h) (1976) includes within the coverage of the Federal Tort Claims Act claims "arising out of assault, battery, false imprisonment, false arrest" resulting from the acts or omission of "law enforcement officers of the United States Government." Deputy U.S. Marshals are "law enforcement officers of the United States Government" within the meaning of § 2680(h). Moreover, simple assault is a misdemeanor in the District of Columbia, 22 D.C. Code § 504, and Deputy Parker, as a "law enforcement officer" within the meaning of 23 D.C. Code § 501(2), was authorized to arrest Mr. Lucas, without a warrant, for the commission of the misdemeanor in his presence. 23 D.C. Code § 581(a)(1)(B); 18 U.S.C. § 3053.
4. At all times pertinent hereto, the aforementioned deputy United States Marshals were acting within the scope of their office or employment within the meaning of the Act, and in pursuit of their official duties as deputy United States Marshals. See e.g., Cruikshank v. United States, 431 F. Supp. 1355, 1356-1358 (D. Hawaii 1977).
5. Under the common law of the District of Columbia, probable cause to effectuate an arrest is a defense to a law enforcement officer for the torts of assault, battery, and false arrest.
A defense available to an individual law enforcement officer for the torts of false arrest, assault, and battery is also available to his employer sued under a respondeat superior theory for acts occurring during the scope of the officer's employment. Wade v. District of Columbia, supra, 310 A.2d 857.
6. Deputy Parker was legally justified in stopping and detaining plaintiff on the steps of Building A for questioning regarding a possible breach of security at Courtroom 11. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 20 L. Ed. 2d 889, 88 S. Ct. 1868 (1968). His request for a driver's license was a reasonable effort to obtain trustworthy identification from plaintiff.
7. Thereafter, once plaintiff forcibly grabbed Deputy Parker, Deputy Parker had probable cause to arrest plaintiff for assaulting . . . and interfering with a federal officer in the performance of his official duties in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111. In conjunction with 18 U.S.C. § 1114, section 111 includes deputy United States Marshals as protected federal officers. Section 111 does not require that the federal officer be placed in fear, or that bodily injury be inflicted, United States v. Frizzi, 491 F.2d 1231 (1st Cir. 1974), and it is of course not relevant that the prosecuting officials determine not to prosecute in the absence of bodily injury. The section includes the lifting of a menacing hand toward the officer, or shoving him, United States v. Alsondo, 486 F.2d 1339 (2nd Cir. 1973), rev'd. on other grounds, 420 U.S. 671, 95 S. Ct. 1255, 43 L. Ed. 2d 541 (1975), or spitting in his face, United States v. Frizzi, supra.
8. Plaintiff's arrest was predicated solely on his interference with, and assault on, the officer, and the Deputies' actions thereafter were consistent with that purpose. The arrest was not pretextual or made to harass plaintiff; rather, it resulted from the conduct of plaintiff in physically assaulting a deputy marshal during the course of an official inquiry regarding a potential breach in the security of a tightly secured trial.
9. Based on his efforts to identify himself and his purpose, Deputy Parker had probable cause to believe that Mr. Lucas knew that Deputy Parker was a deputy U.S. Marshal engaged in the discharge of his official duties. It is not necessary that the person charged under 18 U.S.C. § 111 be certain that his victim is a federal officer. United States v. Irick, 497 F.2d 1369 (5th Cir. 1974); United States v. Fernandez, 497 F.2d 730 (9th Cir. 1974). It is not even necessary that the person have been shown the officer's badge or credentials, and his or her oral declaration may be sufficient to sustain a criminal conviction. Carter v. United States, 231 F.2d 232 (5th Cir. 1956), cert. denied, 351 U.S. 984, 100 L. Ed. 1498, 76 S. Ct. 1052 (1956). Even by plaintiff's own testimony, he was aware that Deputy Parker was a court employee investigating a possible contempt of court.
10. Since the common law of the District of Columbia provides that the defenses of the arresting officer in suits of this nature are available to the principal sued under a respondeat superior theory, and the arresting officer here would not be liable under the common law of the District of Columbia, the United States is not liable in this action.
Accordingly, judgment is entered for defendants and this case is dismissed.
JUNE L. GREEN U.S. District Judge [EDITOR'S NOTE: The following court-provided text does not appear at this cite in 443 F. Supp.]
This action came on for trial before the Court on September 20 and 21, 1977, and the issues having been duly tried, and a decision having been duly rendered that plaintiff has shown no right to relief, it is by the Court this 30th day of September 1977,
ORDERED that judgment is hereby entered against plaintiff and for defendant in accordance with the findings of fact and conclusions of law set forth in the accompanying memorandum opinion; and it is further
ORDERED that this case is hereby dismissed, each side to bear its own costs.
JUNE L. GREEN U.S. District Judge