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Keith v. United States Railroad Retirement Board

July 25, 2006

GERALDINE KEITH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE UNITED STATES RAILROAD RETIREMENT BOARD, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reggie B. Walton United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Currently before this Court is the United States Railroad Retirement Board's ("Board") Motion to Dismiss ("Defs.' Mot.") [D.E. # 54] pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).*fn1 The Board requests that the plaintiff's mental incapacity, hostile work environment, and discrimination claims be dismissed on the ground that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over these claims. Id. at 1. The Board also requests that the Court dismiss the plaintiff's intentional infliction of emotional distress claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Id. For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant the Board's dismissal motion.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This Court has previously set forth an extensive discussion of the facts of this case. See Keith v. U.S. R.R. Ret. Bd., 284 F. Supp. 2d 31, 32-34 (D.D.C. 2003). Accordingly, there is no need to provide an extensive discussion of the facts again. However, in addressing the motion now before the Court, it is helpful to review some of the events that gave rise to this dispute.

Following a verbal altercation with her supervisor, the plaintiff entered into settlement discussions with her employer, the Board. Defs.' Mot. at 3. On April 17, 1996, the plaintiff executed an informal agreement with the Board that required her supervisor to write a formal letter of apology to the plaintiff. Defs.' Mot. at 4. The agreement further stipulated that if the plaintiff was dissatisfied with the informal resolution of the issues she had raised, she could file a complaint with the Board's Office of Equal Opportunity ("OEO"). Id. The plaintiff signed and dated the informal agreement, and added her own postscript indicating that "FOR THE RECORD ---- I have signed your Certification and Acceptance of the Informal Resolution." Defs.' Mot., Ex. 3 (Notice of Final Interview and Informal Resolution, dated April 4, 1996).*fn2 The plaintiff, however, was not satisfied with her supervisor's apology and "appealed to the Board's OEO office to reinstate her informal complaint[,] contending that the Agency breached the agreement." Id. (citing Ex. 4 (Notice of Breach of Informal Resolution, dated May 17, 1996)).

Following a second apology letter from the plaintiff's supervisor, the Board's OEO found that the Board had not breached the settlement agreement. Id., Ex. 6 (Board's Letter to Geraldine Keith, dated May 29, 1996). The plaintiff appealed the Board's decision to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), seeking specific enforcement of the settlement agreement. Id., Ex. 8 (EEOC Decision, dated October 10, 1997). The EEOC affirmed the OEO's decision, id., and on January 9, 1998, the plaintiff sought reconsideration from the EEOC, id., Ex. 9. For the first time, the plaintiff stated that she "want[ed] to bring to [the EEOC's] attention [] that [she] was mentally and emotionally ill when [she] signed the Informal Resolution on April 17, 1996." Id. On October 19, 2000, the EEOC denied the plaintiff's request for reconsideration. Id., Ex. 12 (Denial of Request for Reconsideration, dated October 19, 2000).

On May 30, 2002, the plaintiff filed her first lawsuit with this Court (Civil Action No. 02-1054), again asserting that she lacked the requisite mental capacity to enter into the settlement agreement. Complaint ("Compl.") ¶ 13. On September 29, 2003, this Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order denying the Board's Motion to Dismiss because the Court was uncertain whether the plaintiff had exhausted her administrative remedies with respect to her mental incapacity claim. Keith, 284 F. Supp. 2d at 39-40. On December 15, 2003, the Court remanded the plaintiff's case to the EEOC for a determination on whether the plaintiff had exhausted her administrative remedies with respect to her mental incapacity claim. December 15, 2003 Order. Then, on February 23, 2005, the EEOC determined that the plaintiff had exhausted her remedies with respect to this claim. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 1 (EEOC Decision on a Petition for Enforcement, dated February 23, 2005).

On May 5, 2005, the plaintiff filed a motion to reinstate her earlier filed case and to amend her Complaint, citing as support for the motion, the EEOC's determination that she had exhausted her administrative remedies regarding her mental incapacity claim, and on May 16, 2005, she initiated a second lawsuit in this Court (Civil Action No. 05-0966). Motion to Reinstate Case and Motion to Amend Complaint at 1. Then, on June 2, 2005, this Court granted the plaintiff's motion to reinstate her first lawsuit. Thereafter, on September 1, 2005, the plaintiff again moved to amend her Complaint and also petitioned to consolidate her newly filed case with her original case of 2002. Plaintiff's Motion to Consolidate her Civil Action and Amend Complaint at 1-4. The Court granted the plaintiff's motions on September 9, 2005. The plaintiff alleged, for the first time in her Amended Complaint, claims of hostile work environment, discrimination, and intentional infliction of emotional distress arising from her employment at the Board. Amended Complaint ("Am. Compl.") ¶¶ 28-56.*fn3

On February 17, 2006, the Board filed its second dismissal motion, asserting that (1) this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to entertain the plaintiff's mental incapacity, hostile work environment and discrimination claims; and (2) the plaintiff fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted with respect to her intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. Defs.' Mot. at 1. In her Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, the plaintiff contends that this Court does have subject matter jurisdiction to entertain her claims, and that the Board's contentions with respect to her intentional infliction of emotional distress claim is misplaced. Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss ("Pl.'s Opp'n") at 1. The Board reiterates its positions in its Reply to Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. ("Defs.' Reply").

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

1. Rule 12(b)(1)

On a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the court has jurisdiction to entertain her claims. Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police v. Aschcroft, 185 F. Supp. 2d 9, 13 (D.D.C. 2001) (holding that the court has an "affirmative obligation to ensure that it is acting within the scope of its jurisdictional authority"); Pitney Bowes, Inc. v. U.S. Postal Serv., 27 F. Supp. 2d 15, 19 (D.D.C. 1998). While the Court must accept as true all the factual allegations contained in the complaint when reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164 (1993), because the plaintiff has the burden of proof to establish jurisdiction, the "plaintiff's factual allegations in the complaint . . . will bear closer scrutiny in resolving a 12(b)(1) motion' than in resolving a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim." Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police, 185 F. Supp. 2d at 13-14 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). This scrutiny permits the Court to consider material outside of the pleadings in its effort to determine whether the Court has jurisdiction. See EEOC v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624-25 n.3 (D.C. Cir. 1997); Herbert v. Nat'l Acad. of Scis., 974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C. Cir. 1992); Haase v. Sessions, 835 F.2d 902, 906 (D.C. Cir. 1987); Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order, 185 F. Supp. 2d at 14.

2. Rule 12(b)(6)

On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), this Court must construe the allegations and facts in the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and must grant the plaintiff the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the alleged facts. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994). However, the Court need not accept inferences or conclusory allegations that are unsupported by the facts set forth in the complaint. Id. at 1276. In deciding whether to dismiss a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court can only consider the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint, and matters about which the Court may take judicial notice. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d at 624-25 (D.C. Cir. 1997). The ...


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