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BRADSHAW v. OBERG

June 23, 1988

JOYCE A. BRADSHAW, Plaintiff,
v.
LAWRENCE OBERG, Defendant


June L. Green, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREEN

JUNE L. GREEN, U. S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

 This matter is before the Court on defendant's motion for summary judgment ("Defendant's Motion"); plaintiff's opposition thereto; defendant's reply brief; supplemental memoranda submitted by both parties, and the entire record herein. For the reasons given below, the Court grants defendant's motion for summary judgment.

 I. Statement of Facts

 On August 5, 1983, plaintiff found a watch and ring while cleaning the second-floor women's bathroom at the National Archives. The jewelry belonged to Carolyn Jane Barthol, a National Archives Records Service summer intern, who had inadvertently left them there. Plaintiff claims that she placed the lost articles in a plastic bag on her cart for safekeeping and continued with her assigned duties. Plaintiff alleges that her actions were in keeping with the policy of Nationwide Maintenance, Inc. ("Nationwide"), the cleaning service then under contract for maintenance work at the Archives, to turn in found personal items at the end of the shift.

 After realizing that her jewelry was missing, Ms. Barthol returned to the bathroom to retrieve them only to find that the items had already been removed. She then reported the loss of her watch and ring to her supervisor who suggested that she go to the security office. Ms. Barthol followed this advice and met with Mr. Thomas Hall, a representative at the Archives for Security Associates International, a private firm under contract with the General Services Administration to provide security guards at the National Archives building. She explained the situation to Mr. Hall and he then suggested that Ms. Barthol speak with defendant Oberg, the Supervisory Security and Administrative Officer at the Archives building.

 Ms. Barthol informed defendant Oberg what had occurred and he decided to investigate the matter. He asked Ms. Barthol to remain in or near his office while he and Mr. Hall conducted the investigation. Defendant Oberg and Mr. Hall then proceeded to walk to the Archive's office of Nationwide.

 Upon their arrival at the Nationwide office, defendant Oberg and Mr. Hall met with Mr. Donald Collier, one of plaintiff's immediate supervisors. Mr. Collier accompanied the defendant and Mr. Hall to search for the plaintiff. Plaintiff was located just outside the doorway to the Nationwide office as she was preparing to leave for the day. According to defendant Oberg, he approached plaintiff and questioned her about the watch and ring, being careful not to say "the watch and ring you found." In response to his inquiry, plaintiff states that she promptly reached into the plastic bag hanging on her cleaning cart, took out the jewelry, and handed them over to the defendant. Joyce A. Bradshaw Deposition filed on June 8, 1987 ("Bradshaw Deposition") at 13. Defendant claims, however, that plaintiff did not turn over the jewelry following his initial request. In his version of the incident, defendant states that plaintiff only produced the jewelry after he specifically asked about the watch and ring she found in the bathroom. According to defendant, plaintiff then responded, "Oh, the watch and ring" and retrieved from a bag on the side of her cart the watch and ring, both of which defendant claims were "either in another bag within the bag or separately wrapped in used paper towels." Id. at 5. Plaintiff claims that neither item was wrapped in used paper towels as alleged by defendant.

 Based on defendant's and Mr. Hall's impressions that plaintiff had attempted to be evasive and hide the fact she had the watch and ring, defendant Oberg returned to his office and instructed a guard to telephone the Federal Protective Service ("FPS") to report the incident. Defendant Oberg also requested that plaintiff speak with the FPS officers upon their arrival. Plaintiff, however, had already clocked out for the day and gone outside the National Archives building to catch a bus ride home. Plaintiff's supervisor, Jean Jenkins, sent another maintenance worker to catch up with plaintiff at the bus stop and ask her to return to the building. Plaintiff returned to the building and claims that she was greeted by FPS security guards who questioned her about the incident.

 Meanwhile, defendant Oberg had returned to his office to give back the watch and ring to Ms. Barthol. He then asked Ms. Barthol whether or not she wished to press charges against plaintiff. Ms. Barthol stated that she did not know what to do and asked for his advice. Carolyn J. Barthol Deposition filed on July 8, 1987 ("Barthol Deposition") at 16. According to Ms. Barthol, defendant explained to her that she could either press charges or not and that decision had to be her own. Id. He further stated that "If [Ms. Barthol] did press charges, it would help in other situations that might occur - - similar to [hers] . . . and if [she] didn't, nothing would ever be rectified or helped. . . ." Id. At that point, Ms. Barthol asked to call her parents in Georgia for advice. Thereafter, she decided to press charges. Subsequently, Ms. Barthol, Mr. Hall and defendant Oberg were questioned by two FPS officers. After providing their statements, defendant claims that he and Ms. Barthol left for the day.

 After the FPS officers had questioned all parties involved in the incident, Sergeant Leonard M. McDonald of the FPS arrested the plaintiff. Ms. Peggy Dolford, a female security officer then employed at the Archives by Security Associates, was then ordered to strip search the plaintiff. Plaintiff claims that defendant Oberg ordered the FPS to conduct the search while defendant contends that he had nothing to do with it and was completely unaware that it had occurred. Defendant asserts that Sergeant McDonald ordered Ms. Dolford to search the plaintiff and points to Sergeant McDonald's declaration which confirms his assertion. Ms. Dolford escorted plaintiff into a nearby room and asked her to remove her outer garments where she saw nothing of a contraband nature.

 Upon completion of the strip search, plaintiff was accompanied by the FPS officers and Ms. Dolford to an FPS building for processing. Plaintiff was then released into the custody of the Metropolitan Police and kept overnight in jail. The next morning at approximately 8:00 a.m., plaintiff was taken to Superior Court where an Assistant United States Attorney decided to "no paper" charges against plaintiff since "[plaintiff] had been dismissed from her job," "the security officer [defendant Oberg] had barred her from the [Archives] building, and because she did not have a previous record." See Defendant's Memorandum of Points and Authorities ("Defendant's Memorandum"), Exhibit 5 at 1.

 On Monday, August 8, 1983, plaintiff arrived at work and was informed by her supervisor, Ms. Jean Jenkins, that Nationwide was dismissing her. On that same day, Ms. Patricia Freeman, a member of defendant Oberg's staff, prepared and issued a memorandum "barring" plaintiff from the Archives building pursuant to instructions given by defendant Oberg on August 5, 1983, the day of the incident in question. See Defendant's Memorandum, Exhibit 7. Sometime later, plaintiff requested that defendant withdraw the memorandum but he declined for two reasons. First, he thought that he had a reasonable basis for his belief that plaintiff tried to steal the watch and ring, and second, because the FPS report indicated that the charges had been dropped against plaintiff due in part to her having been barred from the Archives building.

 On August 29, 1983, plaintiff filed a claim with the D.C. Office of Human Rights, claiming that Nationwide dismissed her as a result of racial discrimination. Thereafter, plaintiff filed the original complaint in this matter in August 1984 in the Superior Court of the District of ...


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