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Thorne v. District of Columbia

December 19, 2006

LOUISE THORNE, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ET AL., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gladys Kessler United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiffs bring this action against the District of Columbia, Officer Baxter McGrew, a police officer in the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department ("MPD"), and Unknown Police Officers of the MPD, alleging violations of the United States Constitution, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983"), and the common law of the District of Columbia. Plaintiffs are Louise Thorne, mother and next friend of Mikelle Bassett and Mikesha Bassett, minors; Kathy Crews, mother and next friend of Shaneka Harrison, a minor; and Samala Parker-Smith, mother and next friend of LaKeisha Parker, a minor.

This matter is currently before the Court on Defendant District of Columbia's Motion to Dismiss ("Def.'s Mot.") [Dkt. No. 8]. Upon consideration of the Motion, Opposition, Reply, Supplementary Opposition, Supplemental Reply and the entire record herein, and for the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion is hereby denied.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts*fn1

Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint alleges the following facts. On January 15, 2006, at approximately 9:00 p.m., Mikesha Bassett, Shaneka Harrison, LaKeisha Parker and Terrence Light were in a vehicle driven by Mikelle Bassett on Valley Avenue close to the intersection with Atlantic Street in Southeast Washington, DC. As they approached a green light, a police car began to follow them. After following them for about ten to twenty minutes, the police car drove around Plaintiffs' vehicle and another car pulled up and blocked them from proceeding through the light.

Plaintiffs allege that one officer pulled out his gun, approached the driver's side of Plaintiffs' vehicle, grabbed Ms. Bassett by the neck, pulled her to the ground face down and dragged her. The other officers proceeded to insult, threaten, and use force against each of the other Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs ultimately were released and were not charged with any criminal offenses.

On January 19, 2006, counsel for Plaintiffs sent a letter to Mayor Anthony Williams "to notify [him] of certain legal claims that may be made against the District of Columbia, pursuant to D.C. Code § 12-309." Letter to Mayor Williams ("Notice Letter" or "Letter"), Ex. to Plaintiffs' Opposition to Def.'s Mot., September 1, 2006, ("Pls.' Opp'n").

B. Procedural History

On June 2, 2006, Plaintiffs filed the instant action in Superior Court of the District of Columbia alleging negligence (Count One), assault and battery (Count Three), intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count Four), and false arrest (Count Six) against the District of Columbia. Against the individual Unknown Police Officers, Plaintiffs alleged negligence (Count One), assault and battery (Count Two), intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count Four), liability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for excessive force (Count Five), and false arrest (Count Six). They sought damages in the amount of $5,000,000.00. The case was removed to this Court on June 29, 2006. Defendant District of Columbia filed its Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. No. 8] on August 24, 2006. Plaintiffs opposed the Motion on September 1, 2006 [Dkt. No. 9], Defendant filed its Reply on September 22, 2006 ("Def.'s Reply") [Dkt. No. 12], and Plaintiff filed a Supplementary Opposition on September 27, 2006 ("Pls.' Supp. Opp'n") [Dkt. No. 13].*fn2

On September 29, 2006, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint without leave of Court [Dkt. No. 15]. The Amended Complaint adds one named individual Defendant, Officer McGrew. It restates the counts of the original Complaint and adds one new count: liability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the District of Columbia (Count Seven). On October 6, 2006, Defendant filed a Supplemental Reply ("Def.'s Supp. Reply") [Dkt. No. 16].

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

"[A] complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim 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 (1957); see also Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974) ("The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims."). Accordingly, the factual allegations of the complaint must be presumed true and liberally construed in favor of the plaintiff. Shear v. Nat'l Rifle Ass'n of Am., 606 F.2d 1251, 1253 (D.C. Cir. 1979).

Where, as here, the Court must consider "matters outside the pleadings" to reach its conclusion, a motion to dismiss "must be treated as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Rule 56." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b); see also ...


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