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Allen v. Nicholson

August 27, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Royce C. Lamberth Chief Judge


Now before the Court comes defendant, James R. Nicholson's motion [8] to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint [1] pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). Upon consideration of the motion, plaintiff's opposition [11], the reply [13], the entire record herein, and applicable law, the Court finds that defendant's motion [8] to dismiss will be GRANTED.


On March 7, 2003, plaintiff submitted a request for a leave of absence from March 21, 2003 to April 21, 2003, at the end of which he indicated he would resign from his position as an EEO investigator. (Compl. [1] ¶ 8; Pl.'s Ex. 3 [11] at 11.) Plaintiff proceeded to contact his supervisor on April 21, 2003, to request a thirty-day extension of his leave of absence, intending to delay the effective date of his resignation. (Compl. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff's supervisor denied this request. (Id. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff further alleges that his supervisor, after denying his request, indicated that she had already processed plaintiff's resignation by issuance of a SF-52 on April 20, 2003. (Compl. ¶ 11.) The plaintiff appealed the agency's decision to terminate his employment by filing an informal EEO complaint. (Def.'s Ex. 4 [13-5] at 2.)

The parties entered into a settlement agreement February 5th, 2004 resolving the informal EEO complaint. (See id. at 4.) As a result of mediation concerning these claims, plaintiff was reinstated to his former position. (See id. at 1.) ("[Plaintiff] accepts the ORM position of EEO Specialist . . . offered in the discussion and actions taken as a result of this mediation session. He will be reinstated to this position effective February 8, 2004.") Moreover, this agreement resolved all issues involving the plaintiff's 2003 termination and bars civil lawsuits drawing on these issues. (See id.) ("Upon execution of this settlement agreement, the parties agree that the issues raised in this informed complaint (EEO complaint number 200N-2004-2003103167) will not be used to initiate an EEO complaint, grievance and/or civil lawsuit.")

The 2007 settlement agreement that is the subject of defendant's motion was entered into to resolve subsequent claims that arose well after the first settlement was reached. (See Def.'s Ex. A. [8-2].) Plaintiff was again terminated from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2007, three years after entering the 2004 settlement agreement. (Def.'s Reply [13] at 4 n.5.) Plaintiff again contested the Agency's decision.

The 2007 settlement agreement was entered into to resolve plaintiff's claims relating to his subsequent termination effective May 27, 2007. (Def.'s Ex. A. [8-2] ¶ 9.) Further, to resolve several administrative complaints and this current district court action, plaintiff accepted a settlement package in which he received, inter alia, payment of his attorney fees, cancellation of his removal from employment and reinstatement to permit plaintiff to resign, and removal of any information pertaining to the removal action from plaintiff's Official Personnel File. (See Def.'s Ex. A. [8-2].) In lieu of termination, plaintiff agreed to voluntarily resign from his position. (Id. ¶¶ 2, 4.)

On April 19, 2007, plaintiff filed in this Court his complaint alleging that he has suffered discrimination pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Specifically, plaintiff, an EEO investigator with the Department of Veteran Affairs, contends that he was wrongfully terminated after he had submitted an email indicating that he was agreeing to resign from his employment effective April 22, 2003. (Compl. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff contends that he was wrongfully terminated and seeks retroactive back-pay with interest, as well as compensatory and "consequential" damages. (Id. at 2-3.)

Defendant, James R. Nicholson, Secretary, Department of Veteran Affairs, filed a motion [8] to dismiss the complaint on October 12, 2007. Defendant moves to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff, Caulton D. Allen, opposes this motion.


A. Legal Standard

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Article III confines a court's power to "resolving real and substantive controversies admitting of specific relief through a decree of a conclusive character. . . ." Lewis v. Cont'l Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477 (1990) (internal citation omitted). Federal courts may decide only "actual, ongoing controversies." Clarke v. United States, 915 F.2d 699, 700-01 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (en banc) (quoting Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305, 317 (1988)). "Even where litigation poses a live controversy when filed, the doctrine [of mootness] requires a federal court to refrain from deciding it if 'events have so transpired that the decision will neither presently affect the parties' rights nor have a more-than-speculative chance of affecting them in the future.'" Clarke, 915 F.2d at 701 (quoting Transwestern Pipeline Co. v. FERC, 897 F.2d 570, 575 (D.C. Cir. 1990)).

When a party files a motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), "the plaintiff[ ] bear[s] the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction." Biton v. Palestinian Interim Self-Gov't Auth., 310 F. Supp. 2d 172, 176 (D.D.C. 2004); see also McNutt v. Gen. Motors Acceptance Corp. of Ind., 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936) (indicating that plaintiffs have the burden of establishing jurisdiction).

A court considering a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction must construe plaintiff's complaint in plaintiff's favor, accepting all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged. Jerome Stevens Pharms., Inc. v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C. Cir. 2005). Additionally, when assessing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), a court may also consider any undisputed facts in the record. ...

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