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Boyd v. District of Columbia

November 26, 2007

CECIL BOYD ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

Document Nos. 51, 53, 55

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANT ROBINSON'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; TRANSFERRING THE REMAINING CLAIMS FOR LACK OF JURISDICTION

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs Cecil Boyd and Dennis Fuller bring suit as the alleged fathers of the fetuses aborted by two female District of Columbia Emergency Medical Technician ("EMT") trainees. The defendants are the District of Columbia ("the District") and the teacher of the training course, Interim Chief of Emergency Medical Services Operations Samantha Robinson. The plaintiffs claim that Robinson told the female members of her EMT training class that they could face termination if they became pregnant. As a result, two members of the class impregnated by the plaintiffs had abortions.

This matter comes before the court on the plaintiffs' three charges.*fn1 The first is a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against Robinson for infringing the plaintiffs' constitutional rights under the color of state law. The second is a common-law negligence claim against Robinson for infringing the plaintiffs' protected interests. The third is a vicarious liability claim against the District for torts committed by Robinson in the course of her employment. Robinson requests that the court grant her motion for summary judgment on the first two claims, and the District requests that the court grant its motion for summary judgment on the remaining claim. Because Robinson has qualified immunity from § 1983 claims, the court grants summary judgment on the first claim. Because the remaining claims do not provide an independent basis for federal jurisdiction, the court transfers the claims to the D.C. Superior Court.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

This case stems from an earlier case in which three female Emergency Medical Technician ("EMT") trainees brought a discrimination suit against the District of Columbia Fire/EMT Department. Jane Doe I v. District of Columbia, No. 02cv2338 (D.D.C. Nov. 25, 2002). In that case, the trainees claimed that Samantha Robinson, then Interim Chief of Emergency Medical Services Operations,*fn2 told them that if they became pregnant, they could lose their job. District of Columbia's Mot. for Summ. J. ("Dist.'s Mot."), Ex. 1 ("OIG Report") at 9. The trainees also claimed that after becoming pregnant, they had abortions to keep their jobs. Pls.' Opp'n to District of Columbia's Mot. for Summ. J. ("Pls.' Dist. Opp'n") at 2 & Ex. 2 at 3. They then sued the District and later settled their claims. Pls.' Dist. Opp'n at 2 n.1.

Unlike the earlier suit, which was brought by the trainees who had abortions, this suit is brought by Cecil Boyd and Dennis Fuller, the putative fathers of the fetuses aborted by two of the three female trainees. Am. Compl. ¶ 8. The plaintiffs state in their depositions that they were engaged in monogamous relationships with the female trainees, that they had intercourse around the time the fetuses were conceived, and that they did not use birth control. Pls.' Dist. Opp'n at 10; Pls.' Sur-reply at 11; Dist.'s Mot., Ex. 9 at 9, Ex. 11 at 4, Ex. 12 at 8. The amended complaint, filed December 12, 2006, alleges that the District of Columbia Fire/EMS Department infringed the plaintiffs' rights by telling the trainees that they "could be terminated if they became pregnant during the first year of employment." Am. Compl. ¶¶ 14, 19, 25, 27; OIG Report at 10.

The plaintiffs bring three causes of action. Am. Compl. ¶ 14. The first is a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against Robinson for infringing the plaintiffs' constitutional rights under the color of state law. Am. Compl. ¶ 19. The second is a negligence claim against Robinson infringing the plaintiffs' protected interests. Am. Compl. ¶ 25. The third is a vicarious liability claim against the District for torts committed by Robinson in the course of her employment. Am. Compl. ¶ 27. The District and Robinson each filed motions for summary judgment on April 9, 2007. The court turns to the pending motions.

III. ANALYSIS

A. The Court Denies in Part Robinson's Motion for Summary Judgment

1. The Legal Standard for a Motion for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Diamond v. Atwood, 43 F.3d 1538, 1540 (D.C. Cir. 1995). To determine which facts are "material," a court must look to the substantive law on which each claim rests. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A "genuine issue" is one whose resolution could establish an element of a claim or defense and, therefore, affect the outcome of the action. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must draw all justifiable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor and accept the nonmoving party's evidence as true. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. A nonmoving party, however, must establish more than "the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of its position. Id. at 252. To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must show that the nonmoving party "fail[ed] to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at ...


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