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Hoffman v. Dist. of Columbia

August 17, 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 No. 11

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE UNITED STATES'S MOTION TO DISMISS;DISMISSING SUA SPONTE THE PLAINTIFF'S CLAIM FOR A DECLARATORY JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the court on the motion to dismiss filed by the defendant the United States. The plaintiffs allege that agents of the District of Columbia Metro Police Department ("DCMPD") and the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") violated their constitutional and statutory rights and committed various common law torts against them during a police raid that occurred on July 31, 2008. The United States now moves to dismiss the claims against it pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, contending that sovereign immunity bars these claims.

Because the plaintiffs did not exhaust their administrative remedies for their tort claims, and because the plaintiffs cannot bring suit against the United States based on their federal and D.C. statutory causes of action, the court grants the United States's motion to dismiss. In addition, the court sua sponte dismisses the plaintiffs' claim for a declaratory judgment because of the absence of a live case or controversy.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Angela Hoffman and Kiana Hoffman allege that on July 31, 2008, they were throwing a birthday party at their residence located in the District of Columbia. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 4. Plaintiff Melvin Gresham, a Captain in the DCMPD, owned the residence and leased it to Hoffman. Id. ¶ 20. Captain Gresham was also attending the party along with the remaining plaintiffs: Anthony Pate, Quinton Jones, John McLawhorn, Ralph Threat, Marvin Morris and William Wilson. Id. ¶¶ 2-3, 5-8.

The plaintiffs allege that during the birthday party, agents of the DCMPD and the DEA raided the residence as part of a scheme to retaliate against Captain Gresham. Id. ¶¶ 11, 13. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that agents of the DCMPD were attempting to terminate Captain Gresham from his position because of his purported whistleblower activities. Id. ¶ 13.

The plaintiffs commenced this action on November 6, 2008, later amending their complaint on November 26, 2008, asserting fourteen federal, state and common law claims against the District of Columbia and the United States. See generally Compl.; Am. Compl. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants violated their First and Fourth Amendment rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Am. Compl.¶¶ 39-43, and their Fifth Amendment right to full and equal benefit of the law in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, id. ¶¶ 44-48. The plaintiffs have also asserted common law tort claims for defamation, invasion of privacy, assault, battery, malicious prosecution, theft, intentional infliction of emotional distress, aiding and abetting*fn1 and conspiracy. Id. ¶¶ 52-73, 80-82. In addition, the plaintiff have asserted violations of the D.C. Whistleblowers Act, D.C. CODE §§ 1-615.51 et seq., id. ¶¶ 49-51, and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act ("DCHRA"), D.C. CODE §§ 2-1401.01 et seq., id. ¶¶ 74-79. Lastly, the plaintiffs amended their complaint to add a claim for a declaratory judgment directing Congress to apportion and appropriate to the District's budget the monies necessary to satisfy any judgment resulting from this action. Id. ¶ 83. The United States filed the instant motion on February 20, 2009.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standards for Motions to Dismiss Under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6)

1. 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and the law presumes that "a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 288-89 (1938); see also Gen. Motors Corp. v. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 363 F.3d 442, 448 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (noting that "[a]s ...


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