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Williams v. Savage

March 10, 2008

DON E. WILLIAMS ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
PERNELL L. SAVAGE ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

Document Nos. 12, 20

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE D.C.DEFENDANTS'MOTION TO DISMISS

I. INTRODUCTION

The plaintiffs -- Don Williams, Alleans McQueen and Fonda Allen -- seek to make a federal case out of an ordinary car accident. They charge Kimberly Freeman, the police officer who took the accident report; George Bernard, the sergeant who handled the plaintiffs' complaints about the report; Jennifer Green, the commander of the precinct out of which Freeman and Bernard worked; and the District of Columbia (collectively, the "D.C. defendants") with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12112 et seq., 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1985, and the First Amendment's protections of free exercise of religion and access to the courts.*fn1 The D.C. defendants filed a motion to dismiss these claims for, inter alia, failing to state a claim on which relief may be granted. Because the plaintiffs have not succeeded in stating a cognizable claim for any of the many federal violations alleged, the court grants the D.C. defendants' motion to dismiss these claims.

II. BACKGROUND

The plaintiffs allege the following in support of their claims: Plaintiff Williams is a recovered alcoholic. Compl. ¶ 17. He recovered "through his belief in a Higher Being which is the center of the [Alcoholics Anonymous ("AA") program] and by his regular attendance at AA meetings and the support of his fellow members over a number of years." Id. In March 2004, he borrowed a friend's car to attend an AA meeting, which met regularly at a church in the District of Columbia. Id. ¶¶ 15-20. Plaintiffs McQueen and Allen, who are recovered alcoholics and friends of Williams through their regular encounters at AA meetings, also attended the meeting that day. Id. ¶¶ 19-20.

After the meeting, Williams decided to drive back to his friend's house, id. ¶ 20; McQueen and Allen happened to be traveling behind him, as he proceeded south on 11th Street, id. ¶ 21. Williams then drove through a green light at the intersection of 11th and H Streets, S.E., when defendant Savage, traveling west on H Street, ran a red light and collided with Williams's vehicle. Id. ¶ 23. Defendant Freeman, a police officer, arrived on the scene to document the accident as emergency responders took Williams to the hospital via ambulance. Id. ¶¶ 26-27.

At that point, Bernetta Kingsberry came forward as a witness, informing Freeman that Williams was at fault and that Freeman should not listen to McQueen or Allen because "one cannot trust those AA's." Id. ¶¶ 28, 29. McQueen and Allen tried to explain to Freeman what they saw, but Freeman "made it plain to them that she did not want to hear from anyone in AA" and refused to listen to them. Id. ¶ 31. Freeman then solicited other witnesses to support her view that Williams was at fault. Id. ¶ 34. She interviewed several individuals, including Savage, and they all indicated that Williams was at fault. Id. ¶¶ 33-38. Based on this information, Freeman issued Williams a citation for failure to yield the right of way. Id. ¶ 40. This citation has since been dropped. Id. ¶ 41.

Some time after the accident, Williams sent a letter to the General Counsel for the Metropolitan Police Department, which was eventually redirected to Bernard -- a sergeant in the police department -- requesting that the department reconsider its finding that Williams was at fault for the accident. Id. ¶¶ 42-44. In the letter, Williams notes inconsistencies and biases in statements made by the witnesses to Freeman at the scene and notifies the department of an additional witness, Thomas Taylor, who was not interviewed and whose description of the events contradicts those in the report. Id. ¶¶ 43, 45. After receiving the letter, Bernard falsely told Williams that Taylor came to the precinct and made a statement corroborating the findings in the police report. Id. ¶ 61. Bernard misled the plaintiffs in an effort to further discriminate against AA members. Id. ¶ 62.

Without taking any further action, Bernard also informed Williams that the report was sent back to the General Counsel's office. Id. ¶ 47. "In the meantime," Williams' counsel became aware that McQueen and Allen witnessed the accident and had not been interviewed by Freeman. Id. ¶ 48. Both McQueen's and Allen's depiction of the events corroborated Taylor's in absolving Williams of wrongdoing. Id. Williams forwarded this information to the General Counsel's office, but they did not take any action. Id. ¶¶ 49-50.

Because of the alleged discrimination exhibited by Freeman in concert with Kingsberry and ratified by the District of Columbia, Williams contends that he was "unable to properly settle with and collect for his injuries and the damages to his friend's vehicle." Id. ¶¶ 51-52. Due to this loss, on March 26, 2007,*fn2 the plaintiff filed a lawsuit in this court alleging that the D.C. defendants committed a litany of federal offenses. The D.C. defendants struck back with a motion to dismiss to which the court now turns.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for Rule 12(b)(6) ...


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