The opinion of the court was delivered by: ELLEN S. HUVELLE, District Judge
Plaintiff has filed a complaint pro se under
5 U.S.C. § 706, 28 U.S.C. § 1361, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming
impoverishment and stigmatism due to his allegedly wrongful termination
from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ("FDIC") in 1999.
Defendants have now moved to dismiss the complaint under the doctrine of
res judicata on the grounds that the subject matter of this
complaint was previously litigated in a prior case Elliott v.
FDIC, No. CA-00-1553-A (E.D. Va. May 11, 2001), aff'd, No.
01-1771, slip op. (4th Cir. Oct. 17, 2001), and thus cannot be litigated
again. Moreover, defendants urge that plaintiffs § 1983 claim fails
because plaintiff has not shown that any person acting under color of
state law deprived him of any right and that plaintiff's claim for
mandamus has no merit. The Court agrees and will therefore grant
defendants' motion to dismiss.
Defendants fired plaintiff in June 1999 for falsification of official
documents, failure to follow supervisory instructions, inappropriate or
disrespectful conduct, and absence without
leave on two occasions. (Tr. at 8-9.)*fn1 Plaintiff appealed to the
Merit Systems Protection Board ("MSPB") challenging the four stated
grounds of his dismissal and alleging that removal was too harsh a
penalty for his alleged conduct. (Id. at 9.) In his appeal to
the MSPB, plaintiff also claimed age discrimination and reprisal for
having engaged in whistle-bio wing activities. (Id.) The MSPB
administrative law judge heard witnesses, took evidence, and issued a
decision sustaining plaintiff's removal on two of the four original
grounds, i.e., falsification of official documents and
inappropriate or disrespectful conduct. (Id.) The administrative
law judge also found that the penalty of removal was reasonable and
appropriate, and that plaintiff had failed to meet his burden on the age
discrimination claim and the reprisal claim. (Id. at 9-10.) The
MSPB issued a final order, and plaintiff appealed pro se to the
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
(Id. at 10.)
The district court reviewed the administrative record and found that
substantial evidence supported the MSPB's findings that plaintiff had
falsified official documents and engaged in inappropriate or
disrespectful conduct. (Tr. at 13.) The court also determined that the
Board's decision was neither arbitrary and capricious, nor an abuse of
discretion. (Id.) In addition, the court rejected plaintiff's
challenge to the sanction and his claim of reprisal for whistle-blowing.
(Id.) Finally, the court reviewed plaintiffs discrimination
claim de novo, holding that plaintiff could not establish a
prima facie case and that he could not show that defendants' proffered
reasons for the termination were pretextual. (Id. at 15.) The
court found no basis in the record to support plaintiff's claim that he
was performing adequately at the time of his dismissal or that he
was the victim of unlawful discrimination. (Id.)
Thus, the court granted the motions to dismiss and for summary judgment.
(Id.) Plaintiff appealed to the United States Court of Appeals
for the Fourth Circuit, which affirmed the district court's decision in
an unpublished opinion. Elliot v. FDIC, No. 01-1771, slip op.
(4th Cir. Oct. 17, 2001) (per curiam).
Again proceeding pro se, plaintiff has now filed in this Court
a complaint against the FDIC seeking relief from defendants' destruction
of "his ability to obtain employment,"and the injustice resulting from
defendants' "stigmatizing him with misrepresentations, to potential
employers. . . ." (Pl's Opp. at 2-3.) Essentially, plaintiff argues
that the terms of his dismissal "Inappropriate or Disrespectful
Conduct" and "Falsification of Official Federal Government Documents"
were not proper grounds for his termination, and that his
subsequent inability to obtain employment is an unjust result of these
improper dismissal terms that must be remedied. (See Pl's Opp.
at 2-4.) Given the fact that final judgment was entered in the earlier
case validating the grounds for plaintiffs dismissal, plaintiff is
precluded by the doctrines of res judicata and collateral
estoppel from relitigating this matter. Further, plaintiff's § 1983
claim lacks merit, and mandamus is not an available remedy.
The doctrine of res judicata acts to "conserve judicial
resources, avoid inconsistent results, engender respect for judgments of
predictable and certain effect, and to prevent serial forum-shopping and
piecemeal litigation." Hardison v. Alexander, 655 F.2d 1281,
1288 (D.C. Cir. 1981). As explained by the Supreme Court:
[T]he doctrine of res judicata provides
that when a final judgment has been entered on
the merits of a case, "[i]t is a finality as to
the claim or demand in controversy, concluding
parties and those in privity with them, not only
as to every matter which was offered and
received to sustain or defeat the claim or
demand, but as to any other admissible matter
which might have been offered for that purpose."
Nevada v. United States, 463 U.S. 110
, 129-30 (1983) (quoting
Cromwell v. Sac County, 94 U.S. 351, 352 (1876)). "The final
`judgment puts an end to the cause of action, which cannot again be
brought into litigation between the parties upon any ground whatever.'"
Id. at 130 (quoting Comm'r v. Sunnen, 333 U.S. 591
(1948)). To determine whether the doctrine of res judicata
applies, the Court must decide (1) whether the parties are identical or
in privity with each other in both suits; (2) whether the present claim
is the same as a claim that was raised or might have been raised in the
first proceeding; (3) whether a judgment was issued in the first action
by a court of competent jurisdiction; and (4) whether the earlier
decision was a final judgment on the merits. See Paley v. Estate of
Ogus, 20 F. Supp.2d 83, 87 (D.D.C. 1998) (citing U.S. Indus.,
Inc. v. Blake Constr. Co., 765 F.2d 195, 205 n.21 (D.C. Cir. 1985)).
There can be no dispute here that the parties to the present suit are
identical or in privity with the parties in the prior action. See
LoBue v. Christopher, 82 F.3d 1081, 1084-85 (D.C. Cir. 1996) ("There
is privity between officers of the same government so that a judgment in
a suit between a party and a representative of the United States is
res judicata in relitigation of the same issue between that
party and another officer of the government.") The present claim is the
same as the claim raised in the Eastern District of Virginia. There,
plaintiff argued that his termination was based on "a threat charge,
cloaked as inappropriate or disrespectful conduct, without any proof of a
threat, and also by upholding a repeated falsification charge, without
proof of even one instance of falsification." (Tr. at 4-5.) Here,
plaintiff again argues that his
termination was invalid and seeks relief for the "impoverishing
stigmatization" it has caused. (Pl.'s Opp. at 4.) Even though plaintiff
asserts that he has a different claim for relief, there remains only one
cause of action for purposes of applying the res judicata
doctrine. See Polsby v. Thompson, 201 F. Supp.2d 45, 50-51
("[I]t is an established principle of res judicata that `even
though one group of facts give rise to different claims for relief, upon
different theories of recovery, there remains a single cause of
action.'") (internal citation omitted). Finally, the United States Court
of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a final decision on the merits
when it affirmed the district court's decision in favor of defendants.
Because the requirements of res judicata have been met,
plaintiff's latest complaint must be dismissed with prejudice.
Not only does plaintiff's complaint fail under res judicata,
it similarly fails under the doctrine of collateral estoppel. Under
collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion, once a court has decided an
issue of fact or law necessary to its judgment, that decision may
preclude relitigation of the issue in a suit on a different cause of
action involving a party to the first case. ...