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Potts v. Howard University

January 4, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document No. 36



This matter is before the court on Howard University's motion to dismiss. The plaintiff brings this pro se suit claiming sex discrimination, retaliation, intentional breach of contract, obstruction, fraud, reliance, wrongful termination, as well as violations of various federal and state statutes stemming from Howard University's termination of the plaintiff's employment. Howard University, the defendant, moves to dismiss arguing that the plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Def.'s Mot. at 3. Because the plaintiff (1) brings claims that are time-barred, (2) failed to exhaust remedies under a binding collective bargaining agreement, and (3) fails to plead facts sufficient to state a claim, the court grants the defendant's motion to dismiss.


The plaintiff served as an echocardiography technician for Howard University Hospital. Def.'s Mot. at 1. As an employee of Howard University, the plaintiff was a member of Local 2094 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees ("the Union"). Id. The Union and Howard University were parties to a Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") dated September 28, 1992. Def.'s Mot. Ex. A. The CBA sets forth discipline and discharge procedures including a provision requiring mandatory arbitration for discharged employees aggrieved by their termination. Id. at 30-33.

On April 19, 2002, Howard University terminated the plaintiff's employment. Am. Compl. at 15-17. The plaintiff alleges that he was "terminated for providing safety measures to a patient that was [sic] in compliance with Defendant's hospital policy and [Health Care Organization] standards." Id. at 25. Howard University contends that it terminated the plaintiff because he conducted himself "outside the boundaries of [his] job description." Def.'s Mot. Ex.


The defendant did not provide the plaintiff with counseling, a reprimand in writing, or a notice of suspension before terminating his employment. Am. Compl. at 19. For his part, the plaintiff did not seek arbitration under the CBA, did not file a grievance with the Office of the Executive Director and did not bring a complaint before the District of Columbia Human Rights Commission or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") regarding his termination. Def.'s Mot. at 2.

Instead, between October 26, 2004 and September 29, 2005, the plaintiff filed four lawsuits in this federal district based on the same set of facts. Potts v. Howard Univ., Case No.: 04-1856 (D.D.C. Oct. 26, 2004); Potts v. Howard Univ., Case No.: 05-1317 (D.D.C. June 30, 2005); Potts v. Howard Univ., Case No.: 05-2103 (D.D.C. Dec. 3, 2004); Potts v. Univ., Case No.: 05-1929 (D.D.C. Sept. 29, 2005). Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 40.5, this federal judge has the honor of presiding over all of these cases.

On February 21, 2006, Magistrate Judge Robinson, with the plaintiff's consent, consolidated the four cases. Pursuant to the consolidation, the plaintiff filed a consolidated amended complaint on March 21, 2006, Am. Compl., and on April 21, 2006, Howard University moved to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim, Def.'s Mot. The court now turns to the defendant's motion.


A. Legal Standard for Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir. 2002). The complaint need only set forth a short and plain statement of the claim, giving the defendant fair notice of the claim and the grounds upon which it rests. Kingman Park Civic Ass'n v. Williams, 348 F.3d 1033, 1040(D.C. Cir. 2003) (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2) and Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). "Such simplified notice pleading is made possible by the liberal opportunity for discovery and the other pre-trial procedures established by the Rules to disclose more precisely the basis of both claim and defense to define more narrowly the disputed facts and issues." Conley, 355 U.S. at 47-48 (internal quotation marks omitted). It is not necessary for the plaintiff to plead all elements of his prima facie case in the complaint, ...

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