Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Redding v. Edwards

August 5, 2008

CHARLES REDDING PLAINTIFF,
v.
DONALD EDWARDS DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Emmet G. Sullivan United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. Introduction

On May 30, 1999, a fire claimed the lives of two firefighters and seriously injured three others, including Plaintiff Charles Redding. Plaintiff Redding brings suit against the former Fire Chief for the District of Columbia, Donald Edwards, for intentional torts giving rise to plaintiff's injuries. Pending before the Court is defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint. Upon consideration of defendant's motion to dismiss, the opposition and reply thereto, and the relevant statutory and case law, defendant's motion is DENIED.

II. Background

On May 30, 1999, a fire broke out in a townhouse at 3146 Cherry Road, N.E., Washington, D.C. The fire claimed the lives of District of Columbia Fire Department ("DCFD") firefighters Anthony Sean Phillips, Sr. and Louis J. Matthews. Firefighter Joseph Morgan suffered severe burns and DCFD Lieutenant Charles Redding was also burned in the fire. This Court has previously set forth a detailed account of the relevant events in earlier opinions and will not recite them again here. See Phillips v. District of Columbia, 257 F. Supp. 2d 69, 73-74 (D.D.C. 2003) ("Phillips I"); Phillips v. District of Columbia, 355 F. Supp. 2d 212, 214-215 (D.D.C. 2005) ("Phillips II").

Morgan and Redding and the estates of Phillips and Matthew filed separate civil rights actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and § 1985 against the District as well as against defendant Edwards and three other DCFD officials for failure to implement standard operating procedures, which plaintiffs allege resulted in the death and injuries of the firefighters at Cherry Road. Phillips I, 257 F. Supp. 2d at 75. Plaintiffs also sought compensatory damages from the District and Edwards based on non-constitutional claims for "intentional tortious conduct" pursuant to local common law. Id. Redding also brought a tort claim against DCFD officials Thomas Tippett and Damian A. Wilk in their personal and official capacities. Id. All plaintiffs sought punitive damages for the defendants' alleged intentional tortious conduct. Id. Redding sought punitive damages against the District, as well as Tipppett, Wilk and Edwards in their personal and official capacities. Id.

Following a number of rulings in this Court and the Court of Appeals, see, e.g. Phillips I, 257 F. Supp. 2d at 75-76, 86; Phillips II, 355 F. Supp. 2d at 213; Phillips v. District of Columbia, 455 F.3d 397, 399, U.S. App. D.C. 312, 314 (D.C. Cir. 2006) ("Phillips III"), certain claims have been dismissed and other parties have settled.

Pending before the Court is the motion to dismiss the amended complaint of the only remaining plaintiff, Redding, filed by the only remaining defendant, Edwards, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) and 12(b)(6), in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, --- U.S. ----, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed. 2d 929 (2007).

III. Discussion

A. Standard of Review for Motion to Dismiss

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), a pleading stating a claim for relief must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" in order to provide to the defendant "fair notice of the claims against him." Ciralsky v. CIA, 355 F. 3d 661, 668-70 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)). See also Erickson v. Pardus, --- U.S. ----, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007) (per curiam). "[W]hen a complaint adequately states a claim, it may not be dismissed based on a district court's assessment that the plaintiff will fail to find evidentiary support for his allegations or prove his claim to the satisfaction of the factfinder." Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1969. In considering a 12(b)(6) motion, the Court should construe the complaint "liberally in the plaintiff's favor," "accept[ing] as true all of the factual allegations" alleged in the complaint. Aktieselskabet AF 21. November 2001 v. Fame Jeans Inc., 525 F.3d 8, 15 (D.C. Cir. 2008)(citing Kassem v. Washington Hosp. Ctr., 513 F. 3d. 251, 253 (D.C. Cir. 2008)). Plaintiff is entitled to "the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged." Kowal v. MCI Communications Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994).

B. Plaintiff's Section 1983 Claims

Defendant Donald Edwards' previous motion to dismiss the § 1983 intentional tortious wrongdoing claim against him under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) and 12(b)(6) was denied by this Court. Phillips I, 257 F. Supp. 2d 69. Defendant argued at that time, and argues again in the current motion, that "an intentional tort complaint against an employer by an employee who had received compensation" requires a statement of "specific intent to injure" in order to state a claim. Def.'s Mem. at 4-5 (citing Houston v. Bechtel Assocs. Prof'l Corp., 522 F. Supp. 1094 (D.D.C. 1981); Rustin v. District, 491 A.2d 496 (D.C. 1985), cert denied, 474 U.S. 946). The Court previously considered this argument in Phillips I, and determined the intentional tort claims could proceed. Phillips I, 257 F. Supp. 2d at 85 ("Plaintiffs' allegations support a reasonable inference that the individual defendants' acts were intentional").

The defendant now argues, however, that the Supreme Court's ruling in Twombly articulated a new standard of pleading requiring the Court to reconsider defendant's motion to dismiss. Defendant reads Twombly to require that a court decide "whether the claim [a plaintiff] purports to set forth is 'plausible' ---not whether 'it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief'" as articulated in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1987). Def.'s Mot. at 2. Defendant contends that under this new standard of "plausibility," the plaintiff's intentional tort claims cannot stand because the complaint "lack[s] the necessary allegations under ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.