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Koch v. Schapiro

March 29, 2010

RANDOLPH KOCH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARY L. SCHAPIRO, CHAIRMAN, U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, DEFENDANT.*FN1



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

OPINION

This employment discrimination matter is before the Court on defendant's motion to dismiss and plaintiff Randolph Koch's motion for discovery pursuant to Rule 56(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. After careful consideration of the parties' papers, the relevant case law and statutes, and the entire record in this case, the Court will grant the defendant's motion in part and will deny it in part and will grant plaintiff's motion in part and will deny it in part.*fn2

I. BACKGROUND

Mr. Koch has been employed by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") since 1991 as a GS-12 Financial Analyst and as a SK-12 Financial Analyst. See Complaint ("Compl.") ¶¶ 4, 8. He is a white male. See id. ¶ 6. He is Jewish. See id. At the time of the relevant events he was more than 40 years old. See id. He asserts that he suffers from, and has a record of, disabling medical conditions that include cardiovascular disease, gout, and sleep apnea. See id. Based on these various protected statuses, plaintiff has filed numerous lawsuits against the SEC, many of which have been or currently are before this Court, alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 791, 794, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq. See id.. ¶ 7. Plaintiff also has participated in numerous EEO proceedings. See id.

In the matter currently before the Court, plaintiff alleges that on account of his previous protected activity, his alleged disabilities, his religion, his race, and his age, the SEC discriminated against him, retaliated against him, and subjected him to a hostile work environment. See id. ¶ 22. In support of this claim, plaintiff puts forward a series of allegations, most of which have been the subject of previous and collateral litigation. Specifically, plaintiff alleges the following about his employment by the SEC: (1) his work assignments are inappropriate, see id. ¶ 9; (2) beginning in September 1999, SEC management put plaintiff on a leave restriction and otherwise rigorously monitored his attendance, see id. ¶¶ 11, 12; (3) SEC management imposed a strict curfew upon plaintiff, requiring him to leave the premises by a fixed time each day, see id. ¶ 13; (4) the SEC required documentation from plaintiff for his doctors' appointments and failed to accommodate his disability, see id. ¶¶ 14, 18; (5) in 1999, SEC managers issued plaintiff a formal reprimand that plaintiff believes was undeserved and unjustified, see id. ¶ 15; (6) in 2000, the SEC suspended plaintiff for one week as part of a harassment campaign, see id. ¶ 16; (7) in 1999 and 2000, the SEC issued plaintiff performance evaluations that plaintiff believes were improper, see id. ¶ 19; (8) plaintiff has been the subject of an alleged harassment campaign and subject to discourteous and abusive treatment, see id. ¶ 20; (9) in April of 2000, an SEC manager allegedly assaulted plaintiff, see id. ¶ 21. The SEC has moved to dismiss all of plaintiff's claims.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Because plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court reviews his filings under "less stringent standards than formal pleadings [or legal briefs] drafted by lawyers," Chandler v. W.E. Welch & Associates, Inc., 533 F. Supp. 2d 94, 102 (D.D.C. 2008) (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, (1972)), and, when necessary, "examine[s] other pleadings to understand the nature and basis of [plaintiff's] pro se claims." Gray v. Poole, 275 F.3d 1113, 1115 (D.C. Cir. 2002). Although plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court notes that plaintiff is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and is a lawyer. See Opp. at 2. In addition, as the Court is well aware, plaintiff is an active litigant and has experience pursuing numerous employment discrimination matters.

Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint contain "'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[.]'"

Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quotingConley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) does not test a plaintiff's likelihood of success on the merits; rather, it tests whether a plaintiff properly has stated a claim. Although "detailed factual allegations" are not required to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a plaintiff must offer "more than labels and conclusions" to provide "grounds" of "entitle[ment] to relief." Id. "When ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint." Atherton v. District of Columbia Office of the Mayor, 567 F.3d 672, 681 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)) (other citations omitted). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A claim is facially plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). A complaint alleging facts that are "'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability,... 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of 'entitlement to relief.'" Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (brackets omitted).

III. DISCUSSION

Numerous of plaintiff's claims either have been raised in previous litigation or are currently pending in collateral litigation. Defendant argues that many of these claims are barred by the doctrines of claim preclusion and issue preclusion. Defendant also argues that plaintiff's claims that are currently pending in collateral litigation must be dismissed. Before reaching the merits of plaintiff's claims, the Court will address these arguments.

A. Claim Preclusion and Issue Preclusion

Defendant argues that many of plaintiff's claims are barred either by the doctrine of res judicata ("claim preclusion") or the doctrine of collateral estoppel ("issue preclusion"). Specifically, defendant argues that the following claims are barred by either claim preclusion or issue preclusion: (1) plaintiff's claim regarding his August 2000 suspension, see Compl. ¶ 16; (2) plaintiff's claim regarding the SEC's alleged failure to accommodate his alleged disability, see id. ¶¶ 17, 18, 20; and (3) plaintiff's claim regarding an SEC manager's alleged assault on him, see id. ¶ 21. See Reply at 1-5. Both defendant and plaintiff tend to ...


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