courses of action were presented: (1) keeping IIJP operating with a small paid staff, including Plaintiff; (2) terminating the paid staff and keeping the IIJP in operation with a volunteer staff; or (3) terminating all staff. In a straw ballot, 16 of 28 Board members voted for Option 2. The Board then voted 20 to 6 to accept the results of that straw ballot. Finally, the Board voted 21 to 1, with four abstentions, "to terminate Jim Bell, as executive director, and the remaining staff as [a] reduction in force as of June 16, 1995." Minutes of June 16, 1995 IIJP Board Meeting at 6.
In a June 23, 1995 letter to the Plaintiff, IIJP Personnel Committee chair James McDonald confirmed the June 16 RIF and provided details of Plaintiff's severance package, which included 60 days of salary, four weeks of severance pay, two-and-a-half weeks of vacation pay and some pension benefits.
In the letter, McDonald stated "it is my understanding that your contract is in agreement with [the severance provisions of the Personnel Policy manual]."
Alleged removal of furniture from IIJP offices
In July 1995, Defendant Harvey allegedly discovered that several pieces of furniture were missing from the IIJP offices. She raised the matter of the missing furniture at a Methodist General Board staff meeting, asking if anyone knew about the matter. Former Defendant Scott was at the meeting. She reported that on Saturday, June 24, 1995, shortly after Plaintiff's termination, she saw Plaintiff removing furniture from the IIJP offices, using the passenger elevators. Scott claims she spoke to Plaintiff at the time.
On July 26, 1995, at Harvey's request, Scott prepared a memorandum describing the events of June 24. As she had at the meeting, Scott described seeing Plaintiff move furniture. She did not claim that he was moving IIJP furniture and certainly did not claim he was "stealing" anything. Scott did assert that the incident caught her attention because moving furniture in the passenger elevator is generally unauthorized under building rules.
Although Scott's memorandum was addressed "to whom it may concern," it was transmitted to Harvey. Harvey, in turn, transmitted the information to two people: her superior, Martha Cline, Associate General Secretary of the Methodist General Board
and Anne Spielberg, IIJP's attorney.
In the same June-August time period, Plaintiff was engaged in correspondence with IIJP, grieving his termination. In a series of letters, Spielberg and Plaintiff's counsel debated the merits of Plaintiff's claims against IIJP. Included in those letters were IIJP's allegations that Plaintiff had removed furniture that did not belong to him and Plaintiff's denial that he had done so. In an August 22, 1995 letter to Spielberg, Plaintiff's counsel stated that "your continued accusations that [Plaintiff] is a thief are having a negative influence on any possibility of negotiations." Copies of this correspondence were apparently transmitted by one of the Defendants to all members of the Board.
After losing his position with IIJP, Plaintiff sought a position in his own church, the UCC. When Plaintiff told a representative of the UCC that he had been accused of "theft," he was advised not to circulate his resume within the UCC until the matter had been resolved. Plaintiff has now taken a position with a Chicago organization.
Commencement of litigation
On October 30, 1995, Plaintiff brought a diversity action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. As well as the IIJP board members named in this case, Plaintiff sued their churches directly. Neither IIJP nor Scott were defendants. On January 19, 1996, the Virginia court dismissed the case against the churches with prejudice, on First Amendment grounds. The court also dismissed the case against the individual defendants without prejudice on jurisdictional and venue grounds.
Plaintiff refiled his action in this Court on May 10, 1996. He was granted leave to amend his complaint on December 23, 1996, at which time he added Scott as a defendant. In his seven-count amended complaint, Plaintiff makes the following District of Columbia tort and contract claims
Count I -- Intentional Interference with Contract;
Count II -- Breach of Contract;