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Anthony v. Okie Dokie

July 30, 2009


Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CA-04-5836) (Hon. Natalia M. Combs Greene, Trial Judge)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kramer, Associate Judge

Argued October 2, 2008

Before REID, GLICKMAN, and KRAMER, Associate Judges.

Appellant Michael Anthony challenges the trial court's orders granting summary judgment to appellee Okie Dokie, Inc. ("Okie Dokie") and denying appellant's motion for reconsideration of its order granting summary judgment. We reverse the trial court's grant of summary judgment and remand the case for trial.

I. Factual Background

The factual background underlying this appeal is as follows.

A. August 9, 2003 Altercation

In the early morning hours of August 9, 2003, Anthony and four companions approached the Dream Nightclub ("Dream") in a vehicle. While outside of Dream, they were stopped behind a vehicle that was blocking them. In that vehicle was a woman talking to one or two men dressed in black who were standing outside of it. Several other men dressed in black were on the sidewalk near the stopped vehicle directing traffic with flashlights. Andre Jones, one of the occupants of Anthony's vehicle, approached the stopped vehicle to ask what was happening.One of the men in black showed Jones that he had a gun and another sprayed him with mace.A third man in black spoke into a walkie talkie, and immediately thereafter several other men came running from the front of Dream. Anthony and his companions got out of the car and a fight began, with several of the men in black circling around Anthony.He eventually broke loose and ran from Dream, but was chased down the street by at least one of the men involved in the fight and hit in the head with something that he described as a nightstick. The only person other than Anthony who was identified as involved in the fight was Jerrell Reeves, a security guard involved in the initial encounter that occurred immediately outside of Dream, and who called other security personnel for assistance.

Reeves was an employee of Ink Reinforcement Agency, Inc. ("INK"), which provided security in the area outside of Dream. Anthony has alleged that as a result of being struck with the nightstick, he suffered severe and permanent head injuries.

B. Security at Dream

Okie Dokie, the corporate designation for Dream, provided its own security inside Dream. As of August 2003, each inside security guard wore a black suit and a pin that said "Dream" and carried a walkie-talkie. Security personnel were prohibited from carrying weapons or items such as mace, and were searched when they came into work to ensure that they were not carrying those items. Until May 2002, police officers from the Metropolitan Police Department ("MPD") had provided security outside of Dream, and Okie Dokie reimbursed the Department for that service.

In May 2002, Okie Dokie contracted with INK to provide security outside of Dream. INK was owned by a man named Jason Harris. Marc Barnes, the owner of Dream, hired INK because of his relationship with Harris. Barnes assumed that because Harris had worked indoor security at the District's Convention Center he had the experience to handle the security at Dream. Barnes' understanding of Harris' position at the Convention Center was that he worked in his individual capacity, rather than as someone who hired other people. When Okie Dokie hired INK to provide outside security at Dream, Barnes did nothing to confirm whether Harris had actually done security work at the Convention Center, nor did he obtain a resume from Harris, perform a background check on Harris, confirm whether INK was properly licensed in the District or inquire whether INK would perform background checks on its security personnel.

In July 2002 Okie Dokie and INK entered into an indemnification agreement which stated that they would "maintain an independent contractor relationship pursuant to which [INK] provides certain security and automobile traffic-control services to [Okie Dokie] in connection with [Okie Dokie's] management and operation of Dream." The agreement also stated that "[t]here is no intention to create by this Agreement an employer-employee or agency relationship between [INK] and [Okie Dokie]."

In his deposition Barnes described the reason that different security is needed outside the ...

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