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Bostic v. United States Capitol Police

August 6, 2009

PIERRE BOSTIC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES CAPITOL POLICE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Pierre Bostic filed this action in response to the events of February 14-16, 2004, during which he was arrested by Daryl Banks of the United States Capitol Police and incarcerated for two days before being released. Bostic's claims include: false arrest, false imprisonment, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence. The District of Columbia and the federal defendants move to dismiss, or in the alternative, move for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, both motions to dismiss will be GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

On February 14, 2004, Daryl Banks, a Technician of the United States Capitol Police, pulled over a vehicle driven by Pierre Bostic. See Federal Defs.' Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute ("Statement") [Dkt #30-2] at ¶ 1.*fn1 The basis for the vehicle stop was failure to properly display tags on the front of the vehicle. Statement at ¶ 1. Banks reviewed Bostic's license and registration and called the dispatcher to run a WALES/NCIC check.*fn2 Statement at ¶ 4. The WALES report indicated that Bostic's license was suspended. Statement at ¶ 4.

Banks returned to the vehicle and told Bostic that his license was suspended. Statement at ¶ 8. Bostic denied that his license was suspended. Statement at ¶ 9. Nevertheless, Banks arrested Bostic, handcuffed him, and put him into the vehicle of another officer. Statement at ¶ 10, 12. Bostic bumped his head on the car's roof while entering the vehicle, but did not inform either officer that he bumped his head. Statement at ¶ 12.

Bostic remained in custody for the following two nights because he was on probation for a previous charge at the time of the arrest. Statement at ¶ 16. On Monday, February 16, 2004, Bostic appeared in court. Statement at ¶ 18. The Judge dismissed the case against Bostic because the Department of Motor Vehicles stated that Bostic's license was not suspended. Statement at ¶ 18.

As a result of the events of February 14-16, 2004, Bostic alleges that he suffered "physical injuries, personal and permanent emotional distress and [that he] will continue to suffer extreme emotional and mental anguish, anxiety and humiliation." Complaint [Dkt #1 at ¶ 15]. Bostic's only complaint of physical injury, however, was that he had little scratches on his wrist and a bump on his head. Statement at ¶ 19. He did not seek medical treatment for the bump or scratches because he considered the injuries "minor." Statement at ¶ 19. In addition to his alleged injuries, Bostic alleges that he "has lost income, incurred medial expenses and legal fees." Complaint [Dkt #1 at ¶ 15]. Bostic did not, however, incur any medical expenses or lose any income as a result of his arrest and two night incarceration as he did not seek medical treatment and he was unemployed at the time of the incident. Statement at ¶ 20-21. Bostic alleges emotional injuries of "(1) feeling bothered whenever he sees police; (2) spending Valentine's Day weekend in jail; (3) not being able to take his daughter to the Ice Capades on Valentine's Day weekend; and (4) feeling as if his rights have been taken away from him." Statement at ¶ 22 (citing Bostic's deposition).

Bostic seeks attorney fees, compensatory damages in the amount of $1,000,000, and punitive damages in the amount of $1,000,000. Complaint [Dkt #1].

II. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA'S MOTION

The District of Columbia contends that Bostic's claims should be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because Bostic's claim is barred by the doctrine of res judicata and/or barred by the statute of limitations. In the alternative, the District of Columbia moves for summary judgment.

To survive a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 (b)(6), a plaintiff must make sufficiently detailed factual allegations in her complaint. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The allegations must "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. (citation omitted). "In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint and grant the plaintiff the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged." Eleson v. United States, 518 F. Supp. 2d 279, 282 (D.D.C. 2007) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). "However, 'a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief [in his complaint] requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). The Court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation" when considering a motion to dismiss. Trudeau v. Fed. Trade Comm'n, 456 F.3d 178, 193 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).

"Under the doctrine of res judicata, or claim preclusion, a subsequent lawsuit will be barred if there has been prior litigation (1) involving the same claims or cause of action, (2) between the same parties or their privies, and (3) there has been a final, valid judgment on the merits, (4) by a court of competent jurisdiction." Smalls v. United States, 471 F.3d 186, 192 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (citing Blonder-Tongue Labs., Inc. v. Univ. of Ill. Found., 402 U.S. 313, 323-24 (1971)).

Bostic's claim arose on February 14, 2004 when he was arrested by Banks. On August 30, 2004, Bostic filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia in the District of Columbia Superior Court. That lawsuit involved the same parties and was derived from the same transaction, or series of connected transactions as the current lawsuit. The complaints are virtually identical, with the exception that in the current lawsuit Bostic brings the claims under section 1983 and pleads a claim of negligence. All of Bostic's claims arose out of the same set of facts, however, and therefore Bostic could have, and should have, brought the claims in his first suit in Superior Court. See Advantage Health Plan, Inc. v. Knight, 139 F. Supp. 2d 108, 110 (D.D.C. 2001).

The lawsuit filed in Superior Court resulted in a final judgment which precludes the relitigation of the claims in this Court. The Superior Court dismissed the suit against the District of Columbia on December 8, 2004 because Banks was not an employee of the District of Columbia and therefore the District of Columbia could not be held liable for his tortuous acts. See District of Columbia's Motion, Exhibit #2 [Dkt. #26-2]. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed that decision in August 2006. Because the Superior Court clearly intended to terminate all proceedings as to Bostic's claims, Bostic's current suit against the District of Columbia is barred by the doctrine of res judicata. See Dyer v. William S. ...


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