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Hoffman v. District of Columbia

February 4, 2010

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 Documents Nos.: 23, 33, 37

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DENYING THE PLAINTIFFS'MOTION FOR RELIEF UPON RECONSIDERATION; DENYING THE PLAINTIFFS'MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT; GRANTING THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA'S MOTION TO DISMISS

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the court on (1) the plaintiffs' motion for relief upon reconsideration of the court's interlocutory ruling dismissing all claims against the United States,*fn1 (2) the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment and (3) the District of Columbia's ("the District") motion to dismiss. The plaintiffs allege that agents of the District of Columbia Metropolitan 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. On August 17, 2009, the court dismissed all claims asserted against the United States. Through their motion for relief upon reconsideration, the plaintiffs ask the court to amend that ruling and to reinstate the United States as a defendant in this case. The plaintiffs also move for summary judgment on their claims against the District on the basis of res judicata. The District moves to dismiss all of the plaintiffs' claims against it for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Because the plaintiffs have failed to offer any arguments persuading the court to revise its dismissal of the claims against the United States, the court denies the plaintiffs' motion to alter its previous ruling on that issue. The court also denies the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment because the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that the hearing officer's decision, which the plaintiffs argue should be given res judicata effect, constituted a final judgment on the merits. Lastly, because the plaintiffs have failed to respond to the arguments for dismissal raised in the District's motion to dismiss, the court grants that motion as conceded.

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. More 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 and state 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 ("§ 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 ("§ 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 and conspiracy. Id. ¶¶ 52-73, 80-82. In addition, the plaintiffs have alleged violations of the D.C. Whistleblowers Act, D.C. CODE §§ 1-615.51 et seq., Am. Compl.¶¶ 49-51, and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act ("DCHRA"), D.C. CODE §§ 2-1401.01 et seq., Am. Compl.¶¶ 74-79. The plaintiffs also requested 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.

On August 17, 2009, the court dismissed all claims asserted against the United States. See generally Mem. Op. (Aug. 17, 2009). More specifically, the court dismissed the plaintiffs' § 1981 and § 1983 claims against the United States because those provisions do not permit a cause of action against the federal government. Id. at 5-6. The court dismissed the plaintiffs' common law tort claims against the United States because the plaintiffs did not exhaust their administrative remedies prior to filing suit. Id. at 6-9. Lastly, the court held that the plaintiffs had failed to state a claim against the United States under the D.C. Whistleblowers Act or the DCHRA, and dismissed the plaintiffs' claim for a declaratory judgment based on the absence of a case or controversy. Id. at 9-12.

On June 9, 2009, the plaintiffs moved for partial summary judgment on their claims against the District. See generally Pls.' Mot. for Partial Summ. J. The plaintiffs point out that the District of Columbia Housing Authority ("DCHA") conducted a hearing in April 2009 to consider whether the agency wrongfully terminated plaintiff Hoffman from the Housing Choice Voucher Program ("HCVP"). See Pls.' Mot. for Partial Summ. J., Ex. 1 ("DCHA Decision") at 1. In an "informal hearing decision," the hearing officer noted that "Captain Gresham provided uncontroverted testimony that he was the target of the MPD unit which orchestrated the raid on Ms. Hoffman's residence due to his attempt to rehabilitate the MPD Narcotics and Special Investigations Division." Id. at 2. The hearing officer also concluded that there was no evidence that the raid uncovered any illegal activity at the home of plaintiff Hoffman and recommended that she be reinstated to the HCVP. Id. at 2.

On July 22, 2009, the District moved to dismiss all claims against it. See generally District Mot. to Dismiss. The plaintiffs failed to file a timely opposition to that motion. On October 5, 2009, the plaintiffs filed a motion to reinstate the United States as a defendant along with a "Memorandum in Support of Plaintiff's [sic] Motion to Reinstate the United States and to Deny the District of Columbia's Motion to Dismiss" ("Pls.' Mot."). Although the plaintiffs do not challenge the dismissal of their claims against the United States under § 1981, § 1983, the D.C. Whistleblower Act or the DCHRA, the plaintiffs seek to reinstate their common law tort claims against the United States, arguing ...


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