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Washington v. District of Columbia

January 27, 2010

CYNTHIA WASHINGTON 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.: 38

MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING THE PLAINTIFFS'MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM ORDER DISMISSING CASE AND FOR LEAVE TO FILE A THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT

I.INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court on the plaintiffs' motion for relief from the court's order dismissing this case and for leave to file a third amended complaint. The plaintiffs, current and former employees of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, brought constitutional and state law tort claims against the District of Columbia after the Department of Corrections terminated their employment. In March 2008, the court issued an order dismissing the plaintiffs' amended complaint, determining that the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies before filing suit. The plaintiffs now seek relief from that order. Because the plaintiffs still have not exhausted their administrative remedies, however, the court sees no reason to grant the requested relief. Accordingly, the court denies the plaintiffs' motion.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

As the facts underlying this case were discussed in more detail in the court's memorandum opinion of March 18, 2008, see Mem. Op. (Mar. 18, 2008) at 2-4, the court will only briefly summarize them here. Following two inmates' highly publicized escape from the District of Columbia Central Detention Facility in June 2006, see Am. Compl. ¶ 3, the defendants summarily terminated the plaintiffs' employment in or about August 2006, see id. ¶¶ 9-15. Pursuant to the procedures established in the Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act ("CMPA"), D.C. CODE §§ 1-601.01 et seq., the plaintiffs initiated an administrative action in the Office of Employee Appeals ("OEA") contesting the propriety of their termination, see Am. Compl. ¶ 16.

While the administrative action was still proceeding in the OEA, the plaintiffs filed a complaint against the defendants in this court in June 2007. See generally Compl. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint asserting a procedural due process claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as common law tort claims of "defamation plus" and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 32-57. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint in July 2007, which the court granted on March 18, 2008. See Order (Mar. 18, 2008). As the court explained in the memorandum opinion accompanying the order, the dismissal was appropriate because the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies before filing suit. See Mem. Op. (Mar. 18, 2008) at 6-17.

In July 2009, the plaintiffs filed the instant motion requesting relief from the court's March 18, 2008 order. See generally Pls.' Mot. The defendants filed an opposition on August 11, 2009, see generally Defs.' Opp'n, to which the plaintiffs replied on August 18, 2009, see generally Pls.' Reply. The court turns now to the applicable legal standard and the parties' arguments.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for Relief Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)

In its discretion, the court may relieve a party from an otherwise final judgment pursuant to any one of six reasons set forth in Rule 60(b). FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b); Lepkowski v. Dep't of Treasury, 804 F.2d 1310, 1311-12 (D.C. Cir. 1986). First, the court may grant relief from a judgment involving "mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect." FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b)(1). Relief under Rule 60(b)(1) turns on equitable factors, notably whether any neglect was excusable. Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Ass'n Ltd. P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 392 (1993). Second, the court may grant relief where there is "newly discovered evidence" that the moving party could not have discovered through its exercise of due diligence. FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b)(2).

Third, the court may set aside a final judgment for fraud, misrepresentation or other misconduct by an adverse party. Id.60(b)(3); Mayfair Extension, Inc. v. Magee, 241 F.2d 453, 454 (D.C. Cir. 1957). Specifically, the movant must show that "such 'fraud' prevented him from fully and fairly presenting his case," and that "the fraud is attributable to the party or, at least, to counsel." Richardson v. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp., 150 F.R.D. 1, 7 (D.D.C. 1993) (internal citations omitted). Fourth, the court may grant relief in cases in which the judgment is "void." FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b)(4). A judgment may be void if the court lacked personal or subject matter jurisdiction in the case, acted in a manner inconsistent with due process or proceeded beyond the powers granted to it by law. Eberhardt v. Integrated Design & Constr., Inc., 167 F.3d 861, 871 (4th Cir. 1999). Fifth, the court may grant relief if the "the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable." FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b)(5); Twelve John Does v. District of Columbia, 841 F.2d 1133, 1138 (D.C. Cir. 1988) (noting that not all judgments having continuing consequences are "prospective" for the purposes of Rule 60(b)(5)). Sixth, the court may grant relief from a judgment for "any . . . reason that justifies [such] relief." FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b)(6). Using this final catch-all reason sparingly, courts apply it only in "extraordinary circumstances." Pioneer Inv. Servs., 507 U.S. at 393.

A party proceeding under one of the first three reasons must file his Rule 60(b) motion within one year after the judgment at issue. FED. R. CIV. P. 60(c)(1). A party relying on one of the remaining three reasons may file his Rule 60(b) motion within a reasonable time. Id. The party seeking relief from a judgment bears the burden of demonstrating that he satisfies the prerequisites for such relief. McCurry ex rel. Turner v. Adventist Health Sys./Sunbelt, Inc., 298 F.3d 586, 592 (6th Cir. 2002).

B. The Court Denies the Plaintiffs' Motion for Relief from the Order of March 18, 2008 and for Leave to ...


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