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CEBULA v. BUSH

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


December 6, 1991

M. CEBULA, Plaintiff,
v.
GEORGE BUSH, et al., Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES R. RICHEY

MEMORANDUM OPINION OF CHARLES R. RICHEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Before the Court are the Motions to Dismiss *fn1" filed by the federal defendants *fn2" in this action, and by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts ("Kennedy Center"), Union Station Venture Limited ("Union Station"), Lasalle Partners Asset Management Limited ("Lasalle"), *fn3" Watergate Management ("Watergate"), Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance ("GLAA"), and the American Film Institute ("ALI"), and the plaintiff's responses thereto.

 Upon careful consideration of the submissions of the parties, the applicable law, and the entire record herein, the Court finds that the defendants are entitled to summary judgment. Accordingly, the Court shall grant the motions before it and dismiss the plaintiff's remaining claims.

 I. Background

 The plaintiff alleges that she was severely attacked and robbed by "unnamed rogue defendants" while using the public streets and metro system of the District of Columbia on October 11, 1990 when she was returning home from a programs sponsored by the American Film Institute at the Kennedy Center. She originally filed this complaint in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia against nineteen various defendants for failure to maintain a safe environment.

 This case was removed to this Court by the federal defendants on May 15, 1991. In its Order of October 7, 1991, this Court dismissed a number of the claims in this action pursuant to Local Rule 108(b). Other claims were dismissed for failure to effect service of process on October 9, 1991. See Orders filed October 7, 1991, and October 9, 1991.

  II. Analysis

 Summary judgment is appropriate if the moving party shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that it is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The Court must believe the non-movant's evidence and draw all justifiable inferences in her favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986).

 The Kennedy Center, Union Station, Lasalle, Watergate, GLAA, ALl, and the federal defendants argue that they had no duty to protect the plaintiff on the public streets of the District of Columbia. In the plaintiff's complaint, she does not state where she was when the incident occurred, but apparently it occurred at or near the intersection of F and 9th Streets, Northeast in the District of Columbia. See Watergate's Response to Show Cause Order, Ex. 12 at 5 (Pl.'s Resp. to Interrogatories).

 The plaintiff apparently does not know the identity of her attackers, the "unnamed rogue defendants" in this action. Since their identities are unknown, they cannot be defendants in this civil action. *fn4" The basis of plaintiff's claim against the named defendants seems to be that they were negligent for failing to provide her with a safe environment on the public streets of the District of Columbia.

 In the District of Columbia, the general rule is that "a private person does not have a duty to protect another from a criminal attack by a third person." Kline v. 1500 Massachusetts Avenue Apartment Corp., 141 App. D.C. 370, 439 F.2d 477, 481 (D.C. Cir. 1970). A defendant can be held liable for damages resulting from intervening criminal acts of third parties only if the event is foreseeable and the defendant had a duty to take measures to guard against it. Romero v. National Rifle Ass'n of America, Inc., 242 App. D.C. 55, 749 F.2d 77 (D.C. Cir. 1984). See also District of Columbia v. Doe, 524 A.2d 30, 32-33 (D.C. App. 1987); Lacy v. District of Columbia, 424 A.2d 317, 323 (D.C. App. 1980). The foreseeability of harm must be more precisely shown where there is intervening criminal conduct than in the typical negligence situation. Doe, 524 A.2d at 33.

 In this case, the plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that any of the defendants owed her a duty of care, or that the harm that befell her was foreseeable to any of them. *fn5" She does not allege that she was injured on the property of or in the immediate vicinity of any of their property at the time of the crime. While in a city with a high crime rate it might be foreseeable that any given person returning from an evening at the Kennedy Center might be the victim of a violent crime somewhere, it was not foreseeable that she would be the victim of a violent crime at or near the intersection of F and 9th Streets, Northeast.

 The defendant landowners have no duty to protect a person who passes through their property from crime, off of their property, anywhere in the city. None of the defendants could have foreseen that the plaintiff would have been attacked where she was, and none of them had any duty to ensure her safety in that area. The plaintiff has not shown that these defendants knew of or were in any way responsible for a particular danger to her that they could have remedied in any way.

 The Court is truly sympathetic with the plaintiff, and deeply regrets that she was the victim of this crime. But she has demonstrated no cognizable legal claim against any of these defendants, and no connection between them and her attack or her attackers, aside from the fortuitous fact that she had come from an ALI program at the Kennedy Center and (presumably) passed through the Watergate complex and Union Station on her way home. This does not make the defendants liable for the crime she suffered. The only connection she seems to assert between her injury and the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance is that she believes her attackers were gay. This belief states absolutely no claim against GLAA, a civil rights organization against which no involvement in the incident is even alleged, and whose property was not the site of the incident. The plaintiff's claim with respect to the federal defendants equally lacks merit. The plaintiff fails to assert any direct link whatsoever between any acts or omissions of the defendants and the harm that befell her. *fn6"

 Accordingly, there are no material facts in dispute and all of the remaining defendants are entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.

 III. Conclusion

 For all of the reasons previously set forth herein, the Court shall dismiss this case with respect to all remaining defendants. The Court shall issue an Order of even date herewith in accordance with this Memorandum Opinion.

 December 6, 1991

 CHARLES R. RICHEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 ORDER - December 9, 1991, Filed

 For the reasons set forth in the Court's Memorandum Opinion of even date herewith in the above-captioned action, it is, by the Court, this 6th day of December, 1991,

 ORDERED that Motions to Dismiss filed by the President of the United States, George Bush, the Vice President of the United States, Dan Quayle, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of Transportation (the "federal defendants"), the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Union Station Venture Limited, Lasalle Partners Asset Management Limited, Watergate Management, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance and the American Film Institute shall be, and hereby are, GRANTED; and it is

 FURTHER ORDERED that this case shall be, and hereby is, DISMISSED from the dockets of this Court.

 CHARLES R. RICHEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE


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