Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1309 (1990) ("In libel and slander suits, the time and place of the publication should be specifically stated in the complaint."). Conclusory allegations are insufficient to state a claim. See Hoffman, 777 F. Supp. at 1005; Ridgewells Caterer v. Nelson, 688 F. Supp. 760, 763 (D.D.C. 1988). A plaintiff should plead the time, place, content, speaker, and listener of the alleged defamatory matter. Id.; see also Wiggins v. Equifax Inc., 848 F. Supp. 213 (D.D.C. 1993).
The content of the alleged defamatory matter contained in the consumer credit report is not in dispute. The report stated that Mr. Wiggins had a felony cocaine conviction. This accusation of conviction of a crime is libelous per se. However, the allegations with respect to the other elements that must be plead with specificity are woefully deficient.
Allegations of defamation pertaining to the employment performance reports likewise fail; plaintiffs makes no adequate showing of the content of the defamatory statements placed in his personnel file.
C. Tortious Interference with Contract
"Tortious interference with contractual relations arises when a defendant interferes with a contract between the plaintiff and some third party." Weaver v. Gross, 605 F. Supp. 210, 216 (D.D.C. 1985) (citing Donohoe v. Watt, 546 F. Supp. 753, 757 (D.D.C. 1982), aff'd 230 U.S. App. D.C. 70, 713 F.2d 864 (D.C. Cir. 1983)). In order to recover for intentional interference with contractual relations, the plaintiff must prove four elements: "(1) existence of a contract, (2) knowledge of the contract, (3) intentional procurement of its breach by the defendant, and (4) damages resulting from the breach." Sorrells v. Garfinckel's, Brooks Brothers, Miller & Rhoads, Inc., 565 A.2d 285, 289 (D.C. 1989) (quoting Alfred A. Altimont, Inc. v. Chatelain, Samperton & Nolan, 374 A.2d 284, 288 (D.C. 1977)); see Connors, Fiscina, Swartz & Zimmerly v. Rees, 599 A.2d 47, 51 n.6 (D.C. 1991). Once these elements are shown, plaintiff may recover for intentional interference with contract "unless the defendant proves that his or her conduct was justified or privileged." Sorrells, 565 A.2d at 290.
"[T]he law affords . . . a supervisor such as [defendants Hitchens and Pettinelli] a qualified privilege to act properly and justifiably toward a fellow employee and that employee's true employers . . . ." Sorrells, 565 A.2d at 291. "[T]his privilege is vitiated when the supervisor acts with malice for the purpose of causing another employee's contract to be terminated." Id. (emphasis added).
Plaintiffs' bare allegations seem to suggest that defendants Hitchens and Pettinelli could have been maliciously motivated by racial animosity to procure the termination of Mr. Wiggins' and Mr. Coates' contracts with Philip Morris and District Cablevision. See Compl. PP 16(1)-(2); 18. Defendants' motion to dismiss as to plaintiffs' claim for tortious interference with contract is denied.
D. Civil Conspiracy
Both plaintiffs claim to be the objects of elaborate conspiracies to suspend or discharge their employment; however, the facts proffered by the two plaintiffs in support of their claims of wrongful termination vary. Mr. Wiggins asserts that defendants conspired with Equifax, Inc. and Philip Morris in a conspiracy to tortiously interfere with plaintiff's employment contract, to violate the FCRA, and to defame Mr. Wiggins. See Compl. P 12, 13, 15, 18(b). Plaintiff Coates merely asserts that defendants conspired to tortiously interfere with his employment contract and to defame him. Plaintiffs' allegations as to defendants' acts in furtherance of the alleged conspiracies are numerous.
It is well established that "there is no recognized independent tort action for civil conspiracy in the District of Columbia," Waldon v. Covington, 415 A.2d 1070, 1074 n.14 (D.C. 1980); however, District of Columbia law "acknowledges the concept of civil conspiracy." Halberstam v. Welch, 227 U.S. App. D.C. 167, 705 F.2d 472, 479 (D.C. Cir. 1983). "Since liability for civil conspiracy depends on performance of some underlying tortious act, the conspiracy is not independently actionable; rather it is a means for establishing vicarious liability for the underlying tort." Id.
Under District of Columbia law, the elements of a claim for civil conspiracy are "an agreement to do an unlawful act or a lawful act in an unlawful manner; an overt act in furtherance of the agreement by someone participating in it; and injury caused by the act." Okusami v. Psychiatric Institute of Washington, Inc., 295 U.S. App. D.C. 58, 959 F.2d 1062, 1066 (D.C. Cir. 1992) (citing Halberstam, 705 F.2d at 487). Moreover, "[t]o establish liability, the plaintiff also must prove that an unlawful overt act produced an injury and damages." Id. An agreement may be inferred from the underlying facts. Id.
1. Tortious Interference with Contract
Plaintiffs allege that defendants conspired together to tortiously interfere with their rights in their employment. Compl. PP 10; 12; 13; 15. There is an underlying tort under D.C. law for tortiously interfering with an employment contract. See supra § III(A). Again, plaintiffs have alleged facts that support at least an inference of an agreement to participate in a scheme to tortiously interfere with plaintiffs' employment contract.
2. Fair Credit Reporting Act