The opinion of the court was delivered by: GASCH
HONORABLE OLIVER GASCH, SENIOR JUDGE, United States District Court for the District of Columbia
In this suit, plaintiff requests damages for injuries allegedly received when he was arrested in a "sting" operation last December by U.S. Marshals offering free Redskins tickets. Named as defendants are the District of Columbia, Chief of Police Maurice Turner and arresting officer Steven O'Dell. The complaint alleges that defendants are liable for false arrest and imprisonment, assault and battery, defamation, civil rights violations under Section 1983, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.
Two motions are currently before the Court. The District of Columbia has moved to dismiss or for summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff failed to comply with the mandatory notice requirements of the D.C. Code.
Defendant Turner has moved to dismiss the complaint on three grounds: 1) that, as a superior officer, he is not vicariously liable for the torts of his subordinates, 2) that he is immune from suit for his discretionary acts, and 3) that there is no sufficient claim of negligent training and supervision of subordinate police officers. As counsel for plaintiff conceded defendant Turner's motion in open court, that motion is granted by this Court.
Sometime before December 15, 1985, plaintiff Samuel Powell received a letter of invitation to a Sunday brunch at the D.C. Convention Center as well as a free ticket to a Washington Redskins football game. On December 15, 1985, plaintiff arrived at the Convention Center and presented this letter. As the police department detention report indicates, plaintiff was arrested by Officer Steven O'Dell at 10:00 A.M. and was released without charge at approximately 7:00 P.M. After some confusion, police investigation of plaintiff's identity revealed that he was not wanted as originally indicated.
Plaintiff claims that at the time of his arrest, he had committed no crime and no outstanding warrant for his arrest existed. The complaint further alleges that, during the time of arrest and incarceration, Officer O'Dell threatened plaintiff with bodily injury and offensively contacted plaintiff's person, causing physical injury and emotional pain and suffering. Plaintiff additionally claims that he was paraded before local television cameras and generally subjected to ridicule by the police.
Plaintiff recites eight counts against the defendants which include: 1) assault and battery, 2) false arrest and imprisonment, 3) defamation of character and invasion of privacy, 4) deprivation of fourth, fifth and eighth amendment rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
5) negligent supervision and control of subordinate officers in violation of Section 1983, 6) intentional civil rights violations, 7) intentional infliction of emotional distress and 8) negligence. Judgment demanded against the defendants is in the amount of $ 900,000 compensatory and $ 900,000 punitive damages. Plaintiff avers that these sums are due as recompense for his loss of income and consortium, incurrence of medical expenses, mental anguish and distress, and damage to his good name and reputation.
A. District of Columbia's Motion for Dismissal or Summary Judgment
The District has moved for dismissal or summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff failed to provide adequate and timely notice of his claims as required by D.C. Code § 12-309 (1981). Exhibit "A" attached to the District's motion is a letter dated December 20, 1985, which advised Mayor Marion S. Barry of plaintiff's false arrest claim against the District. The only circumstances described in the letter are that plaintiff was invited to the D.C. Convention Center on December 15, 1985, and thereupon was arrested with a bench warrant. By sworn affidavit, the District claims that this was the only pre-complaint correspondence received from plaintiff.
In opposition to the District's motion, plaintiff rests on the grounds that the December 20th letter constituted proper notice under Section 12-309 and that the complaint, filed less than six months after the incident, "expanded" on that notice.
The various issues raised by the District's motion may be divided into three separate inquiries: 1) whether plaintiff's federal tort claims are subject to the notice requirements of the D.C. Code; 2) whether there was sufficient notice to protect plaintiff's non-federal claim of false arrest; and 3) whether ...