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Chen v. Monk

March 29, 2010

ZHI CHEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHARLES D. MONK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
ZHI CHEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul L. Friedman United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the Court on the District of Columbia's motion to dismiss in part the complaint against it in Civil Action Number 09-1536. After careful consideration of the parties' papers, the relevant case law, the relevant statutes, and the entire history of the case, the Court will grant the District of Columbia's motion.*fn1

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Zhi Chen, alleges that on April 21, 2007, she was crossing at the intersection of 6th and H Streets, Northwest, in the District of Columbia when a Metropolitan Police Officer ("MPD"), Charles Monk, yelled "Police" and grabbed her. See Compl. ¶ 8.*fn2

Officer Monk allegedly "slammed" her towards the back hood of his car and handcuffed her, and he then called two other officers, Officers Chancham Spears and Nicole Ha, out from the local MPD substation. See id. ¶ 9. Plaintiff further alleges that "[w]ithout any explanation or reading any Miranda rights to Plaintiff, both Officers Ha and Spears put Plaintiff into their own police patrol car to drive to [the] Red Roof Inn at 5th and H" Streets. See id. ¶ 10 (emphasis omitted). Apparently acting upon the belief that plaintiff owed money to the Red Roof Inn, Officer Monk allegedly removed sixty dollars from the pocket of plaintiff's pants and gave it to a Red Roof Inn cashier. See id. ¶ 12. Plaintiff asserts that she never owed money to the Red Roof Inn. See id. ¶ 13. After this incident, plaintiff says she was released by the officers. See id. ¶ 14.

Plaintiff originally filed Civil Action Number 09-1536 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on June 26, 2009. She named the District of Columbia and Officer Spears as defendants. Plaintiff asserts six claims: Count One for Personal Injury (both defendants); Count Two for False Arrest and Imprisonment (both defendants); Count Three for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (both defendants); Count Four for Gross Negligence and Negligence (against the District of Columbia only); Count Five for Negligent Supervision, Training, and Maintenance of Personnel (against the District of Columbia only); and Count Six for Violation of Civil Rights Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (both defendants).

On August 14, 2009, the District of Columbia removed the case to this Court based on federal question jurisdiction. On October 1, 2009, the Court consolidated this case with another case that previously had been filed by plaintiff based on the same alleged incident - Chen v. District of Columbia, Civil Action Number 08-0252 - in which plaintiff had sued the current defendants as well as Officers Ha and Monk, and Red Roof Inns, Inc.*fn3 The matter is now before the Court on the District of Columbia's motion to dismiss Counts One, Two, Three and Six.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Rule 12(b)(6) allows dismissal of a complaint if a plaintiff fails "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), the Supreme Court clarified this standard. The Court in Twombly noted that "Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests[.]'" Id. at 555 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)); see also Aktieselskabet AF 21 v. Fame Jeans Inc., 525 F.3d 8, 15 (D.C. Cir. 2008). Although "detailed factual allegations" are not necessary to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, to provide the "grounds" of "entitle[ment] to relief," a plaintiff must furnish "more than labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. There is no "probability requirement at the pleading stage," id. at 556, but "something beyond... mere possibility... must be alleged[.]" Id. at 557-58. The facts alleged in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level," id. at 555, or must be sufficient "to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) ("A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."). The Court in Twombly referred to this newly clarified standard as "the plausibility standard." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 560 (abandoning the "no set of facts" language from Conley v. Gibson).

On a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The complaint "is construed liberally in the [plaintiff's] favor, and [the Court should] grant [the plaintiff] the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged." Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994). Nevertheless, the Court need not accept inferences drawn by the plaintiff if those inferences are unsupported by facts alleged in the complaint; nor must the Court accept plaintiff's legal conclusions. See id. See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50.

III. DISCUSSION

The District of Columbia moves to dismiss plaintiffs' claims for personal injury (which it appropriately construes as a claim for assault and battery), false arrest and imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress as untimely. It also moves to dismiss plaintiff's claim under Section 1983 for failure to state a claim.

A. Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for assault, battery, false arrest, and false imprisonment in the District of Columbia is one year. See D.C. Code ยง 12-301(4). Plaintiff's claims for these torts all arise out of the incident that occurred on April 21, 2007. A cause of action for a tort claim accrues "at the time the plaintiff's interest is invaded or at the time the tortious act is committed which causes injury." Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp. v. Krouse, 627 A.2d 489, 494 (D.C. 1993). The statute of limitations began to run on the date that the alleged events occurred, April 21, 2007, and expired one year later on April 21, 2008. Plaintiff's present complaint was filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on June 26, 2009, more than a year after the statute of limitations had run. The fact that plaintiff had an earlier case that was dismissed without prejudice does not affect the calculation of whether the statute of limitations has run. See Dupree v. Jefferson, 666 F.2d 606, 611 (D.C. Cir. 1981) ("under District of Columbia law the pendency of an action involuntarily dismissed without prejudice does not operate to toll the running of the statute of limitations"); Sayyad v. Fawzi, 674 A.2d 905, 906 (D.C. 1996). ...


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