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Epps v. United States Capitol Police Board

June 28, 2010

WAYNE EPPS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES CAPITOL POLICE BOARD ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Re Document No. 4

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION; DISMISSING THE PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM FOR WHICH RELIEF CAN BE GRANTED

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the court on the defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), or, in the alternative, for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56. The plaintiff, a former member of the Library of Congress Police Force ("the Library Police"), has asserted age discrimination claims against the United States Capitol Police Board ("the Capitol Police Board") and the United States Library of Congress ("the Library of Congress"). The plaintiff's complaint arises from the merger of the Library Police into the Capitol Police, as mandated by the U.S. Capitol Police and Library of Congress Police Merger Implementation Act of 2007 ("the Merger Act"), 121 Stat. 2546 (2008). The Merger Act subjected Library Police officers to a mandatory retirement age for the first time and prohibited some older Library Police officers, including the plaintiff, from becoming Capitol Police officers, providing instead for their transfer to the Capitol Police as civilian employees. The plaintiff alleges that this provision of the Merger Act violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 623 et seq. Because the plaintiff did not participate in mediation prior to commencing suit and because mediation is a jurisdictional prerequisite to commencing suit against the Capitol Police Board in federal court, the court grants the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiff's claims against the Capitol Police Board for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Additionally, because the ADEA prohibits neither maximum entry ages nor mandatory retirement ages for federal law enforcement positions, the court dismisses the plaintiff's claims against the Library of Congress sua sponte for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In January 2008, Congress enacted the Merger Act, which effected the merger of the Library Police into the Capitol Police. See generally 121 Stat. 2546. The Merger Act transferred all Library Police employees to the Capitol Police as either officers or civilian employees. Id. § 2(a)(1). The Act provided that only those Library Police officers who could complete twenty years of federal law enforcement service prior to their sixtieth birthday would become Capitol Police officers.*fn1 Id. § 2(b)(1)(A)(i). Those Library Police officers who were ineligible to become Capitol Police officers under this requirement transferred to the Capital Police Board as civilian employees. Id. § 2(b)(1)(B). Under the Merger Act, no transferred Library Police officer, whether he became an officer or a civilian, would suffer a reduction in pay or rank. Id. § 2(d)(1).

The plaintiff alleges that the Library Police hired him to serve as an officer in July 2002 when he was forty-eight years old. Compl. ¶¶ 5, 8. The plaintiff asserts that throughout his employment, he fully performed his job duties as required by the Library Police. Id. ¶ 6. Nevertheless, the plaintiff claims he was "forced to resign" in July 2008 at the age of fifty-four when he learned that he would not be allowed to continue to serve as an officer upon transfer to the Capitol Police and would instead become a civilian employee.*fn2 Id. ¶ 7, 9. The plaintiff alleges that in addition to preventing him from serving as an officer with the Capitol Police, the defendants deprived him of advanced training and prevented him from advancing in rank or salary. Id. ¶ 9.

In January 2009, the plaintiff filed an administrative charge of age discrimination with the Congressional Accountability Office of Compliance ("the CAO"). Id. ¶ 13 & Ex. 1. In May 2009, following the expiration of the mandatory counseling period with the CAO, id. Ex. 1, the plaintiff commenced this action, see generally id. Notably, he did so without first submitting to mediation at the administrative level. See Office of Compliance, Certificate of Official R. ¶ 5.

In September 2009, the defendants filed this motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. See generally Defs.' Mot. In their motion, the defendants argue, inter alia, that this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the plaintiff's claims because the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing suit. See Defs.' Mot. at 10, 12-14. In November 2009, the plaintiff filed an opposition in which he argued, inter alia, that the court should excuse his failure to exhaust his administrative remedies on equitable grounds. See Pl.'s Opp'n at 18-23. With the defendants' motion ripe for adjudication, the court turns to the applicable legal standards and the parties' arguments.*fn3

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

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); see also Gen. Motors Corp. v. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 363 F.3d 442, 448 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (noting that "[a]s a court of limited jurisdiction, we begin, and end, with an examination of our jurisdiction").

Because "subject-matter jurisdiction is an 'Art[icle] III as well as a statutory requirement[,] no action of the parties can confer subject-matter jurisdiction upon a federal court.'" Akinseye v. District of Columbia, 339 F.3d 970, 971 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (quoting Ins. Corp. of Ir., Ltd. v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee, 456 U.S. 694, 702 (1982)). On a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the court has subject matter jurisdiction. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992).

Because subject matter jurisdiction focuses on the court's power to hear the claim, however, the court must give the plaintiff's factual allegations closer scrutiny when resolving a Rule 12(b)(1) motion than would be required for a Rule 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim. Macharia v. United States, 334 F.3d 61, 64, 69 (D.C. Cir. 2003); Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police v. Ashcroft, 185 F. Supp. 2d 9, 13 (D.D.C. 2001). Thus, the court is not limited to the allegations contained in the complaint. Hohri v. United States, 782 F.2d 227, 241 (D.C. Cir. 1986), vacated on other grounds, 482 U.S. 64 (1987). Instead, "where necessary, the court may consider the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record, or the complaint supplemented by ...


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