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Hoffman v. District of Columbia

June 29, 2009

ANGELA HOFFMAN 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

Re Document Nos. 7, 15, 16

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DENYING THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA'S MOTION TO QUASH AND DENYING THE PLAINTIFFS'MOTION FOR SANCTIONS AND REQUEST FOR A SHOW CAUSE HEARING

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the court on the motion of the defendant District of Columbia ("the District") to quash service and the plaintiffs' related motion for sanctions and request for a show cause hearing. For the reasons discussed below, the court denies both motions and denies the plaintiffs' request for a show cause hearing.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The plaintiffs commenced this action on November 6, 2008, alleging that agents of the Metropolitan Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Agency conducted an unlawful search of their residence. See generally Compl. The plaintiffs have asserted a variety of statutory and common law causes of action based on this purportedly illegal search. See id. ¶¶ 37-82. On November 26, 2008, the plaintiffs submitted an Amended Complaint, adding the District as a defendant to the action. See generally Am. Compl.

On December 5, 2008, the plaintiffs attempted to effect service of their Amended Complaint on the District by mailing copies of the summons, complaint and initial order to Mayor Adrian Fenty, D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles and Assistant Attorney General Darlene Fields (designated agent for the Attorney General). See Pls.' Opp'n, Ex. A at 1-3. These individuals were specifically named as the intended recipients in the address boxes of the mailings sent by the plaintiffs. Id. The packages were sent through the United States Postal Service via first class certified mail, return receipt requested. Id. In addition, the plaintiffs paid for "Restricted Delivery," a service offered by the Postal Service which requires its couriers to deliver designated packages only to the individuals specifically named as the intended recipients or to persons expressly authorized to receive packages on behalf of the named recipient. Id.

On January 14, 2009, the District moved to quash service, alleging that the plaintiffs had failed to properly serve the District. See generally Def.'s Mot. to Quash. The plaintiffs opposed the District's motion and filed a motion for sanctions, alleging that the District had committed fraud on the court by attempting to quash service. See generally Pls.' Mot. for Sanctions.

On February 24, 2009, as the District's motion to quash service was pending, the plaintiffs requested that the clerk's office enter default against the District. Id. at 11. The clerk's office declined the plaintiffs' request. Id. at 12. The plaintiffs now request that the court hold a show cause hearing, "wherein the [clerk's office] provide the legal basis for [its] decision," insinuating that the District somehow improperly influenced the clerk's office not to enter default. Id.

III. ANALYSIS

A. The District's Motion to Quash Service

1. Legal Standard for Service on the District of Columbia

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(j)(2) provides that: A state, a municipal corporation, or any other state-created governmental organization that is subject to suit must be served by: (A) delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to its chief executive officer; or (B) serving a copy of each in the manner ...


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