Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

RICHARDSON v. U.S. DEPT. OF INTERIOR

June 12, 1990

DWAYNE D. RICHARDSON, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPORKIN

 STANLEY SPORKIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 This matter is before the Court on defendants' motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment. After reviewing defendants' motion, the plaintiff's response thereto, and after having heard oral argument from the parties, this Court is prepared to rule on the motion.

 This action stems from events which took place on the night of May 7, 1988, at East Potomac Park, which is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, an agency of the United States Department of the Interior. The parties are in agreement as to most of the essential facts. Plaintiff had gone to the park with friends to play miniature golf. Plaintiff left the golf course area to use the men's room located near the parking area. Plaintiff states that he walked through an open gate into a parking area and through a second open gate into the rest rooms. *fn1" Officer DeLullo, of the United States Park Police observed the plaintiff walking in this area and locked the gate while the plaintiff was in the rest room. After leaving the rest room, plaintiff sought to return to the golf course area via the route he had just used. However, plaintiff found the gate locked. It is uncontested that Officer DeLullo then instructed the plaintiff that the area was restricted and he should not re-enter. *fn2"

 Notwithstanding this instruction, the plaintiff proceeded to climb over the fence near the locked gate. *fn3" Upon observing the plaintiff climb over the fence, Officer DeLullo returned to the area near the fence and advised the plaintiff that he was under arrest for trespassing. *fn4" Plaintiff was placed in handcuffs.

 Officer DeLullo proceeded to escort the plaintiff to the park police station. While they were walking, Officer DeLullo contends that the plaintiff attempted to "wrench away" and said "I'm leaving." As Officer DeLullo attempted to regain his grasp on the plaintiff's arm, he lost his balance. This resulted in both Officer DeLullo and the plaintiff falling into a parked golf cart.

 After regaining their footing, the plaintiff and officer DeLullo proceeded into the station where plaintiff was photographed and fingerprinted. Plaintiff was charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct. Plaintiff at the time had no identification which reflected that he lived or worked within 50 miles of the District of Columbia. Without such information, D.C. Office of Pre-trial Services Guidelines preclude the release on a summons of an arrestee. Plaintiff was placed in a holding cell until he was turned over to the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police. *fn5" Officer DeLullo asserts that he made every effort to verify the residence and employment information that the plaintiff had apparently orally communicated. These efforts were unsuccessful.

 After being transferred to the custody of the Metropolitan Police, plaintiff was taken to the Central Cell Block where he remained incarcerated until midnight. At that time, his girlfriend returned with the necessary funds to post bond. Plaintiff appeared with counsel at a scheduled court date at which time he was advised that "no charges" would be filed against him. Pl. Opp. at 3.

 II. THE APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

 When presented with a motion to dismiss, a court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and its allegations must be taken as true. Moreover, any ambiguities or uncertainties concerning the sufficiency of the claims must be resolved in favor of the plaintiff. See Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 10, 66 L. Ed. 2d 163, 101 S. Ct. 173 (1980); Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90, 94 S. Ct. 1683 (1979); see also 5 Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1357 (1969). As the Supreme Court has stated:

 
In appraising the sufficiency of the complaint we follow, of course, the accepted rule that a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.

 Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957) (footnote omitted). Thus, at this stage, plaintiff's statement of the facts must be accepted as true.

 Defendants contend that various counts of plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). *fn6"

 III. PLAINTIFF'S LEGAL CLAIMS

 Plaintiff alleges in Count I of his complaint that the actions taken by Officer DeLullo constitute a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. *fn7" Section 1983 provides:

 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1981). Here, plaintiff contends that Officer DeLullo was acting under the color of District of Columbia law when he arrested the plaintiff. *fn8" Plaintiff's legal analysis is incorrect.

 Plaintiff concedes that Officer DeLullo, as a United States Park Police Officer, is a federal official. In addition, the incident that provides the basis for this action took place on federal lands, specifically a National Park. Thus, this case involves an incident where a federal officer's actions occurred on federal property. Although Officer DeLullo may have relied on District of Columbia criminal provisions when he arrested the plaintiff, the Assimilative Crimes Act ("Act"), 18 U.S.C. § 13, *fn9" serves to transform District of Columbia law into federal law. This Act essentially provides that if there is no federal law governing certain behavior, state or territorial law is to be applied as federal law on federal property located in those states or territories. This would include federal property within the District of Columbia.

 Officer DeLullo's arrest of the plaintiff was clearly made under the color of federal law, and not District of Columbia law. See Townsend v. Carmel, 494 F. Supp. 30, 32 (D.D.C. 1979). As the Supreme Court stated in District of Columbia v. Carter, 409 U.S. 418, 34 L. Ed. 2d 613, 93 S. Ct. 602 (1973), Section 1983 "deals only with those deprivations of rights that are accomplished under the color of the law of 'any State or Territory'." Id. at 424 (footnote admitted). Actions taken by federal officers are outside its proscriptions. McCord v. Bailey, 204 U.S. App. D.C. 334, 636 F.2d 606, 613 (1980), cert. denied, 451 U.S. 983, 101 S. Ct. 2314, 68 L. Ed. 2d 839 (1981) (citations omitted). Accordingly, plaintiff's claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 must be dismissed as a matter of law for failure to state a claim.

 Plaintiff also asserts that the actions taken by Officer DeLullo rose to the level of a constitutional tort. See Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, 403 U.S. 388, 29 L. Ed. 2d 619, 91 S. Ct. 1999 (1971). Specifically, plaintiff alleges that his rights under the Fourth, Sixth, and Ninth Amendments to the United States Constitution were violated. Additionally, in Counts II and III of his complaint, plaintiff claims that the actions of Officer DeLullo constitute the common law torts of false arrest and imprisonment, and assault and battery. *fn10" Plaintiff is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages.


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.