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Swinson v. D.C. Metro Police Dep't

May 12, 2009


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

Document No. 18




In this civil action brought pro se by a federal prisoner, the plaintiff alleges that he was unlawfully arrested and detained on December 11, 2005. In his amended complaint, the plaintiff sues the District of Columbia, the Metropolitan Police Department ("MPD"), the Mayor in his official and individual capacity, the Chief of Police in her official and individual capacity, the Federal Protective Service Agency, "Insp. Williams" and "Ofc. Bland."*fn1 Am. Compl. at 1. The District of Columbia, the MPD and the Mayor (collectively "the defendants") move to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56. Upon consideration of the parties' submissions and the entire record, the court grants the movants' motion for summary judgment and dismisses the complaint against the remaining defendants pursuant to the screening provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


The plaintiff argues that his arrest on December 11, 2005 violated his right to due process because the "defendants alleged that the plaintiff had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear at trial for possession of marijuana in Virginia," Am. Compl. ¶ 2, but failed to produce the warrant at the precinct, id. ¶ 4. He contends that he was unlawfully detained for 12 days "before being taken before a Magistrate Judge in Virginia." Id. ¶ 5. The plaintiff advances the following claims: unlawful arrest, unlawful detainer, gross negligence, personal injury and fraud. Id. at 2. The plaintiff seeks an admission from the defendants "that there was never an arrest warrant for the plaintiff," id., and monetary damages, id. at 3.


A. Legal Standard for Rule 56 Motion for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to 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 must establish more than "the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of its position, id. at 252, and may not rely solely on allegations or conclusory statements, Greene v. Dalton, 164 F.3d 671, 675 (D.C. Cir. 1999); Harding v. Gray, 9 F.3d 150, 154 (D.C. Cir. 1993). "The object of [Rule 56(e)] is not to replace conclusory allegations of the complaint or answer with conclusory allegations of an affidavit," Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990), but to identify a genuine issue of material fact. The nonmoving party must present specific facts that would enable a reasonable jury to find in its favor. Greene, 164 F.3d at 675. If the nonmoving party's evidence "is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (internal citations omitted). "The removal of a factual question from the jury is most likely when a plaintiff's claim is supported solely by the plaintiff's own self-serving testimony, unsupported by corroborating evidence, and undermined [] by other credible evidence[.]" Johnson v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 883 F.2d 125, 128 (D.C. Cir. 1989) (citations omitted).

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 trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. By pointing to the absence of evidence proffered by the nonmoving party, a moving party may succeed on summary judgment. Id.

B. The Mayor and the MPD are Entitled to Judgment as a Matter of Law

The defendants rightly assert that the plaintiff has not stated a claim against the Mayor in his personal capacity because the allegations in the complaint fail to establish the Mayor's personal involvement in the alleged wrongdoing, see Cameron v. Thornburgh, 983 F.2d 253, 256 (D.C. Cir. 1992), and the official-capacity claim is, in effect, against the District of Columbia, Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985). In addition, the defendants rightly assert that the complaint against the MPD should be dismissed because the MPD is not an entity ...

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