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BERAN v. UNITED STATES

March 18, 1991

JAMES P. BERAN, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants


Royce C. Lamberth, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: LAMBERTH

ROYCE C. LAMBERTH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 This case comes before the court on defendants' motions for substitution of parties and dismissal or summary judgment. *fn1" After consideration of the parties' briefs and the record herein, defendants' motion for substitution is granted and motion for dismissal is granted in part and denied in part.

 BACKGROUND *fn2"

 On March 17, 1987, at approximately 6:00 p.m., plaintiff was driving on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House. At that time, defendants Michael R. Insabella and Jesse J. Blanco, Special Agents of the United States Secret Service, were surveying the perimeter of the White House in an unmarked light colored vehicle. *fn3" Complaint para. 11. According to plaintiff, defendants' car was stopped in the right lane, obstructing traffic movement. Beran Affidavit para. 3. In an effort to encourage defendants to advance, plaintiff sounded his horn. Plaintiff observed the two men in the car look over their shoulders and then begin to move forward slowly. Beran Affidavit para. 6. When an opportunity to pass was available, plaintiff moved from behind defendants' vehicle to the second lane from the curb gesturing with his middle finger as he did so. Beran Affidavit para. 7. Plaintiff alleges that defendants then accelerated into the third lane from the curb and drew alongside Beran's car, permitting the driver of the unmarked car to yell obscenities at plaintiff through the open passenger window. Beran Affidavit para. 9.

 Plaintiff alleges that traffic on 15th Street was at a standstill, requiring plaintiff to bring his car to a sudden stop. Beran Affidavit para. 15. Defendants' vehicle barely avoided colliding with the rear of plaintiff's automobile. Complaint para. 15. When traffic began to flow, defendants moved to the right of plaintiff's vehicle, and then "drove in front of the Beran vehicle, forcing his [Beran's] car across the center line towards oncoming traffic." Complaint para. 15. The light colored vehicle then stopped suddenly, causing plaintiff to impact defendants' vehicle from behind. Beran Affidavit para. 18. At this point, the driver of the light colored vehicle exited his car and ran toward Beran. According to plaintiff, defendant Michael J. Insabella reached into plaintiff's open window, grabbed plaintiff's tie and began striking plaintiff in the head. Beran Affidavit para. 20. Plaintiff alleges that defendant then "yanked open" the driver's door and attempted to remove plaintiff from the car. Defendant's efforts were unsuccessful, however, because plaintiff was restrained by his seatbelt. Complaint para. 17. *fn4" Unable to escape from defendant by driving forward -- due to the fact that defendants' car was directly in front of plaintiff's -- Beran put his car into reverse, accelerating down 15th Street toward G Street. As defendant Insabella was positioned inside the open door, he was struck by the door and dragged for a distance of approximately 65 feet. Declaration of Michael R. Insabella para. 22.

 After driving in reverse down G Street, plaintiff proceeded south on 14th Street to Pennsylvania Avenue. Complaint para. 18. While stopped at the light at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street, a bicyclist identified himself to plaintiff as a witness to the altercation and urged plaintiff to return to the scene. Beran Affidavit paras. 28 - 29. Plaintiff and the witness then returned to the place of the purported attack and flagged down two officers of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Beran Affidavit para. 30. As plaintiff relayed the incident to the MPD officers, defendants arrived at the scene. Plaintiff alleges that it was during the discussion which ensued between the MPD officers and defendants that he first learned that defendants were Secret Service agents. Complaint para. 20.

 Plaintiff was placed under arrest by the MPD officers for assaulting a federal officer and was subsequently arraigned. Beran Affidavit paras. 32 & 43. Grand jury consideration of plaintiff's case resulted in the return of no true bill. Beran Affidavit para. 44.

 As a consequence of these events, plaintiff alleges that he suffered physical injuries and property damage as well as damage to his reputation. Plaintiff also asserts that as a result of Secret Service interviews with plaintiff's employer, plaintiff was denied a promotion and reassignment to a preferred job position. *fn5" Beran Affidavit paras. 45 - 53.

 On March 7, 1988, plaintiff filed a complaint alleging: assault and battery by defendant Insabella (Count I), false arrest and false imprisonment (Count II), *fn6" and malicious prosecution (Count III), libel, slander and defamation of character (Count IV), civil conspiracy (Count V), negligent hiring, training and supervision of defendants Insabella and Blanco (Count VI), and violations of civil rights under the fourth amendment, fifth amendment, eighth amendment, and 42 U.S.C. ยง 1985 (Count VII). Plaintiff seeks money damages as well as equitable relief in the form of expungement of his records of his arrest. *fn7"

 Defendants have moved to substitute the United States as the proper party pursuant to the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act of 1988, Public Law 100-694. Additionally, defendants have filed a motion to dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment.

 ANALYSIS

 After review of plaintiff's statements of material facts in dispute, the court is convinced that this case cannot be disposed of in its entirety through dispositive motions. Resolution of factual disputes, including whether and when agents Insabella and Blanco identified themselves to plaintiff as law enforcement officers, will have to await trial. *fn8" The court shall at this time, however, address a number of ...


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