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BRIDGES v. KELLY

September 26, 1997

CHARLES BRIDGES, Plaintiff,
v.
SHARON PRATT KELLY, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LAMBERTH

MEMORANDUM OPINION

 This case comes before the Court on defendants' motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and, in the alternative, for summary judgment.

 BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff Charles Bridges, a Vietnam and Gulf War veteran, served as an Attorney Advisor for defendant District of Columbia in its Department of Administrative Services *fn1" Office of Regulatory Compliance until his discharge in 1993. Plaintiff contends that his troubles began less than two months after his return from active duty in the Gulf. On October 1, 1991, the District notified plaintiff that he was to be discharged pursuant to a reduction-in-force. In response, plaintiff filed a lawsuit on October 15, 1991, alleging that the act authorizing the reduction-in-force violated his fifth amendment rights to due process and equal protection. Plaintiff then learned that his prospective discharge had been cancelled, in view of his retention rights under the Veterans Readjustment Act, which allows the veteran-employee a one-year grace period upon return from active duty. However, his lawsuit remained pending. Plaintiff alleges that he "was thereafter subjected to a continuous pattern of harassment for nearly two years by the defendants in retaliation[.]" Complaint P 5. "This harassment consisted of threatened illegal adverse personnel actions, threatened unmerited unsatisfactory performance ratings, interference with independence during quasi-judicial functions, and censorship for expression of concern in regard to the widespread mismanagement, waste, fraud, and abuse, demonstrated in evidence before him, and elsewhere, within the District government." Compl. P 5 at p.5.

 On June 18, 1993, plaintiff was notified that he was subject to a reduction in force "as a result of a shortage of funds," Compl., Exh. B at p. 1, effective July 23, 1993. Plaintiff filed an administrative appeal on August 13, 1993. Plaintiff filed this complaint before this Court on July 15, 1994, seeking reinstatement and $ 28 million in compensatory and punitive damages and alleging that "plaintiff's discharge was by information, belief and evidence a sham, an illegal scheme/device to oust him from his job by the said defendants in obvious reprisal for a pending lawsuit and subsequent appeal, as well as for other illegal reasons as set forth in the complaint." Compl. P 42. The Corporation Counsel for the District on the behalf of defendants then filed a motion to dismiss the complaint in light of the "Younger doctrine of equitable restraint and for failure to exhaust local administrative remedies." Bridges v. Kelly, 318 U.S. App. D.C. 30, 84 F.3d 470, 474 (D.C. Cir. 1996). This motion to dismiss was granted by the District Court, *fn2" See Bridges v. Kelly, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21028, No. 94-1559 (D.D.C. Jan. 18, 1995) (Order), but that decision was reversed by D.C. Circuit and the case was remanded to this Court. *fn3" See Bridges v. Kelly, 318 U.S. App. D.C. 30, 84 F.3d 470 (D.C. Cir. 1996). Upon remand, defendants were given the opportunity to file an answer, or otherwise respond to the complaint, and they responded to the complaint by submitting the motion that is the subject of this opinion.

 DISCUSSION

 Plaintiff alleges "violation of [his retention rights under the Veteran's Readjustment Act] ..., retaliation for his exercise of first amendment [free speech] rights ..., deprivation of his substantive rights without due process of law ..., and reprisal and retaliation for the exercise of rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983." Plaintiff's Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and, in the Alternative, Summary Judgment. Allowing for the intricacies of § 1983 jurisprudence, the Court will take each claim for relief--and its evidentiary support, if necessary--in turn.

 "In appraising the sufficiency of the complaint we follow, of course, the accepted rule that a complaint should not be dismissed 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). "By the plain terms of § 1983, two--and only two--allegations are required in order to state a cause of action under that statute. First, the plaintiff must allege that some person has deprived him of a federal right. Second, he must allege that the person who deprived him of that right acted under color of state or territorial law." *fn4" Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640, 64 L. Ed. 2d 572, 100 S. Ct. 1920 (1980).

 VIOLATION OF VETERANS READJUSTMENT ACT RIGHTS

 Plaintiff alleges that the defendants violated his rights under the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Act. See 38 U.S.C. § 2021 et. seq. (1988 and 1993 supp). While the plain meaning of § 1983 provides for the redress of deprivation of federal statutory as well as constitutional rights, see Maine v. Thiboutot, 448 U.S. 1, 4, 65 L. Ed. 2d 555, 100 S. Ct. 2502 (1980), not all such rights are protected. If Congress creates a comprehensive enforcement scheme within the statute, then it has "specifically foreclosed a remedy under § 1983." Smith v. Robinson, 468 U.S. 992, 1005, n.9, 82 L. Ed. 2d 746, 104 S. Ct. 3457 (1984); see Lampkin v. District of Columbia, 307 U.S. App. D.C. 155, 157, 27 F.3d 605, 607 (1994) ("A statute will not be deemed enforceable under section 1983 if Congress did not intend to create any enforceable rights in it (which may be evidenced by the provision of a comprehensive remedial scheme in the statute itself)[.]").

 With these particulars in mind, plaintiff points to § 2021 of the act for statutory support. While § 2021 delineates some of the reemployment rights of veterans working for the District of Columbia, § 2023 delves into much more detail about the manner in which Congress intended those reemployment rights to be enforced. § 2023 empowers the Director of the Office of Personnel Management to issue any necessary orders to the District of Columbia government concerning its compliance, from reimbursement for back pay to securing the unemployed veteran another job in the District government. See 38 U.S.C. § 2023 (1988 and 1993 supp). This stands in stark contrast to the provisions made for employees of state governments or private employers. See 38 U.S.C. § 2022 (1988 and 1993 supp). In these cases, jurisdiction is granted to the District Court to ensure compliance. See id. Congressional intent precludes enforceable § 1983 retention rights, cf. Grady v. El Paso Comm. Coll., 979 F.2d 1111, 1113 (5th Cir. 1992), and therefore this claim is dismissed. *fn5"

 DEPRIVATION OF PROPERTY RIGHTS

 Plaintiff contends that he has been deprived of a property interest--his substantive bumping rights and a rightful determination of his competitive level. "Property interests ... are not created by the Constitution. Rather, they are created and their dimensions are defined by existing rules or understandings that stem from an independent source such as state-law rules or understandings that secure certain benefits and that support claims of entitlement to those benefits." Board of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 577, 33 L. Ed. 2d 548, 92 S. Ct. 2701 (1972). *fn6"

 Plaintiff cites to District of Columbia Personnel Regulation § 908.9 which states, "the affected employee shall be entitled to only one (1) round of competition, which shall be limited to his or her competitive level." He received his one level of competition at his competitive level. Nevertheless, plaintiff contends that his competitive level was determined incorrectly. This violation cannot have constitutional significance. If it did, any violation of state law by state actors concerning public employees would be actionable under § 1983. This Court does not exist to remedy every mistake made by state actors. See Rochin v. California, 342 U.S. 165, 172, 96 L. Ed. 183, 72 S. Ct. 205 ...


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