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Cromartie v. District of Columbia

August 6, 2010

BRYCE A. CROMARTIE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Presently pending before the Court is Defendants' [25] Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons explained below, the Court shall GRANT Defendants' Motion as conceded; alternatively, the Court shall the motion on the merits.

I. DISCUSSION

A. Procedural History

This case was removed to this Court from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia by Defendants on July 22, 2009. After Defendants filed their answer to the complaint, the Court held an Initial Scheduling Conference on September 14, 2009, and issued a Scheduling and Procedures Order setting forth deadlines for the completion of discovery. See Docket No. [9]. Pursuant to that scheduling order, discovery was to be completed by February 26, 2010. The Court also referred the parties to the Court's ADR program for mediation.

On March 12, 2010, the Court held a Status Hearing in which the parties indicated that ADR had been unsuccessful and that discovery had not been completed. See Min. Order (Mar. 12, 2010). The Court ordered the parties to confer regarding a schedule for the completion of discovery and to file a Joint Discovery Plan setting forth their proposed schedule by no later than March 17, 2010. The parties were unable to comply with this deadline, resulting in Plaintiff's filing of a discovery plan without Defendants' input. See [12] Pl.'s Discovery Plan. The following day, Defendants's counsel filed a Joint Discovery Plan. See [13] Joint Discovery Plan. The Court issued a minute order adopting the deadlines proposed by the parties for the completion of discovery and scheduled a Status Hearing for April 16, 2010. See Min. Order (Mar. 18, 2010).

The parties were unable to complete discovery without incident. On April 1, 2010, Defendants filed a [14] Motion to Compel further deposition testimony from Plaintiff and a [15] Motion for Protective Order to maintain the confidentiality of certain information responsive to Plaintiff's requests for production of documents. Pursuant to LCvR 7(m) and FED. R. CIV. P. 37(a)(1), Defendants' counsel certified that she attempted in good faith to resolve these issues with Plaintiff's counsel by notifying him by email but stated that he did not respond to her emails or to her follow-up phone messages. The Court ordered Plaintiff to file a written response to these motions, and Defendants filed oppositions to these motions on April 9, 2010. On April 16, 2010, the Court held a Status Hearing in which the parties discussed their various discovery disputes. See [21] Order (Apr. 16, 2010). The Court granted Defendants' Motion to Compel further deposition testimony from the Plaintiff on the ground that Plaintiff's counsel had improperly obstructed Defendants' counsel's questioning. During the Status Hearing, the parties suggested that the continued deposition be taken at the courthouse with a judge available to resolve any objections asserted by Plaintiff's counsel. Accordingly, the Court ordered the parties to confer and agree on a date for the deposition and then contact the Court to make further arrangements. See id. The Court scheduled a further Status Hearing for May 27, 2010.

The parties ultimately scheduled the continued deposition of Plaintiff for May 24, 2010, and it was conducted in a spare courtroom in the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse. Although the parties initially proceeded without a judge present, the parties were unable to complete the deposition without contacting this Court's chambers to resolve objections asserted by Plaintiff's counsel. This Court presided over the remainder of the deposition.

On May 27, 2010, the Court held a Status Conference with counsel for both parties present. During the hearing, Defendants indicated that they planned to file a dispositive motion. Accordingly, the Court set forth the following briefing schedule (requested by the parties), which the Court also put in a written order: Defendants shall file their Motion for Summary Judgment on or before July 9, 2010; Plaintiff shall file his Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on or before July 23, 2010; and Defendants shall file their Reply in support of their Motion for Summary Judgment on or before August 2, 2010. See [23] Order (May 27, 2010). The Court's Order also reminded the parties of their duty to comply with Local Rule LCvR 7(h) regarding motions for summary judgment. See id. On July 9, 2010, Defendants filed a [24] Consent Motion for Additional Time to Move for Summary Judgment, citing Defendants' counsel's illness. Defendants agreed to complete the motion over the weekend and file on Monday, July 12, 2010. Defendants also stated that they "will work cooperatively with plaintiff if the delay in filing causes him to need additional time to respond to the motion." The Court granted the motion for extension of time in a minute order, allowing Defendants to file their motion on July 12, 2010. See Min. Order (July 9, 2010). Because Plaintiff did not request an extension of time for his opposition, the Court did not change the other deadlines set by the Court.

B. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

On July 12, 2010, Defendants filed their [25] Motion for Summary Judgment, which is now pending before the Court. In their motion, Defendants contend that (1) Plaintiff's constitutional claims fail because Defendants Rodriguezgil and Brown had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff, did not use excessive force, and are entitled to qualified immunity; (2) Plaintiff's common law claim for false arrest fails because defendants Rodriguezgil and Brown had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff and a reasonable officer could believe that their actions were legal; (3) Plaintiff's common law assault and battery claim fails because Defendants Rodriguezgil and Brown used no more force than necessary to arrest Plaintiff; and (4) Plaintiff's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress fails because Plaintiff cannot prove that Defendants intended to cause him severe emotional distress or that Defendants' conduct was so extreme and outrageous that it caused Plaintiff severe emotional distress. See Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. at 1.

Although Defendants concede that there are numerous factual disputes about what happened once the police arrived at the residence where Plaintiff was arrested, Defendants contend that Plaintiff's own statements prevent him from recovering on any of his claims. See Defs.' Mem. P. & A. Supp. Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. at 2. For example, Plaintiff admits that he did not obey Defendant Rodriguezgil's instructions to be quiet and place his hands on a vehicle and instead argued with Rodriguezgil that he should not be arrested. See Defs.' Stmt.*fn1 ¶¶ 6-17.

Defendants argue that this disobedience gave the arresting officers probable cause to arrest Plaintiff for assault on a law enforcement officer because he impeded and/or interfered with police carrying out their duties. Defs.' Mem. at 6-7; see D.C. Code § 22-405(b) ("Whoever without justifiable and excusable cause, assaults, resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates, or interferes with a law enforcement officer on account of, or while that law enforcement officer is engaged in the performance of his or her official duties shall be guilty of a misdemeanor . . . .") Plaintiff also claims that he was forced to the ground and restrained by Officer Rodriguezgil with handcuffs, causing him minor injury to his wrist. Defs.' Stmt. ¶¶ 18-25. Defendants argue that no reasonable police officer would believe that this was excessive force. Defs.' Mem. at 7-9. ...


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