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Banks v. District of Columbia

July 8, 2005

VIVIAN D. BANKS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Signed by Royce C. Lamberth, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Before the court is defendant District of Columbia's ("District") motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. The District moves to dismiss plaintiff Banks' complaint on the grounds that Banks failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

The District's motion is based on four separate grounds, 1) defendant Department of Mental Health is non sui juris and not a proper party to the law suit; 2) plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies by not timely filing her discrimination charge; 3) plaintiff has not alleged race discrimination to support her 42 U.S.C. § 1981 claim; and 4) plaintiff has failed to allege the necessary custom, policy, and/or practice for municipal liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Parts one and three of the motion to dismiss are moot. The plaintiff filed an amended complaint withdrawing her claims against the Department of Mental Health and the § 1981 claim against both defendants.

The court will now consider parts two and four of the motion.

I. BACKGROUND

On December 14, 2001 at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, which is run by the District of Columbia Dept. of Mental Health, a patient attacked a nurse with a knife. Banks is a nurse who was stationed on the floor where the incident occurred. The District proposed to terminate Banks for negligence. After an internal hearing, the hearing officer recommended that the penalty be reduced to a reprimand in a decision dated August 22, 2002.

On June 13, 2003, Ms. Knisley, Director for the D.C. Dept. of Mental Health, decided to suspend Banks for nine days without pay. Banks alleges that Ms. Knisley's decision was based on a policy of discrimination that favors the young over the old and men over women, which is evidenced by Ms. Knisley not disciplining younger male co-workers who engaged in similar conduct.

Banks alleges filing a discrimination charge with the D.C. Human Rights Commission ("OHR") on February 3, 2004, which is 235 days after June 13, 2003. After filing with OHR, Banks filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment.

First, the standard of review for a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted (Rule 12(b)(6)) is discussed. Second, the standard of review for a motion for summary judgment is discussed.

A. Rule 12(b)(6) Standard

A motion to dismiss under the Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) tests whether a plaintiff has properly stated a claim upon which relief can be granted. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982). The explicit language of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) provides that the complaint need only contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief..." See also Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957); U.S. ex. rel. Harris v. Bernad, 275 F. Supp. 2d 1, 5 (D.D.C. 2003). The complaint need not plead the elements of a prima facie case. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 511-14 (2002) (holding that a complainant in an employment discrimination case need not plead the prima facie elements); see also Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1114 (D.C. Cir. 2000). In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court is bound to consider all well-pleaded facts as true, and to draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant. Scheuer, 416 U.S. at 236; ...


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