Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Matthews v. Dist. of Columbia

August 9, 2010

BERNARD MATTHEWS, ET AL. PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John D. Bates United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Bernard Matthews, William Christopher Malloy, Kevin T. Anderson, Brian Covington, and Derrick Craig each allege that officers of the Metropolitan Police Department ("MPD") unlawfully strip searched them. They therefore have brought this action against the District of Columbia and several named and unnamed officers of the MPD, alleging violations of the U.S. Constitution and District of Columbia common law. Before the Court are the District of Columbia's motion to dismiss and the individual officers' motion to dismiss. For the reasons detailed below, the Court will grant in part and deny in part both motions.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs' claims arise out of a series of strip searches that allegedly occurred in 2006 and 2007. William Christopher Malloy offers that on February 3, 2007, a group of MPD officers, which included defendant Officers David Randolph and Semus Bracket, approached him and ordered him to submit to a search. Compl. ¶¶ 19, 21. "After an initial search of Malloy's pockets turned up no contraband, Officer Randolph instructed Malloy to turn around and place his hands on a nearby vehicle." Compl. ¶ 20. Officer Randolph then cut the string on Malloy's sweatpants with a knife, Compl. ¶ 21, and "removed Malloy's underwear, spread his buttocks, and began to probe around between Malloy's buttocks near his anus," Compl. ¶ 22. He also "conducted a search around Malloy's testicles, penis and foreskin," Compl. ¶ 24. Malloy alleges that "[t]his personal intrusion was conducted in a public area and in the presence of other civilian individuals," Compl. ¶ 26, and that as a result of the search he "has experienced and continues to experience emotional trauma," Compl. ¶ 28. The remaining plaintiffs allege materially similar searches.

As a result of the alleged strip searches, plaintiffs have sued the District of Columbia for constitutional violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and for common law assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"), and negligent training and supervision. They also have sued both named and unnamed MPD officers for constitutional violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and for common law assault, battery, conspiracy, negligence, false arrest, false imprisonment, and IIED.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

All that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require of a complaint is that it 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) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)); accord Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam). 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." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56; see also Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). "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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570); accord Atherton v. Dist. of Columbia Office of the Mayor, 567 F.3d 672, 681 (D.C. Cir. 2009). A complaint is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. This amounts to a "two-pronged approach" under which a court first identifies the factual allegations entitled to an assumption of truth and then determines "whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Id. at 1950-51.

The notice pleading rules are not meant to impose a great burden on a plaintiff. Dura Pharm, Inc. v. Broudo, 544 U.S. 336, 347 (2005); see also Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512-13 (2002). When the sufficiency of a complaint is challenged by a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the plaintiff's factual allegations must be presumed true and should be liberally construed in his or her favor. Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164 (1993); Phillips v. Bureau of Prisons, 591 F.2d 966, 968 (D.C. Cir. 1979); see also Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56). The plaintiff must be given every favorable inference that may be drawn from the allegations of fact. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000). However, "the court need not accept inferences drawn by plaintiffs if such inferences are unsupported by the facts set out in the complaint." Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994). Nor does the court accept "a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation," or "naked assertions [of unlawful misconduct] devoid of further factual enhancement." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50 (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Aktieselskabet AF 21. Nov. 2001 v. Fame Jeans Inc., 525 F.3d 8, 17 n.4 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (the court has "never accepted legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations").

ANALYSIS

I. The Constitutional Claims

A. Plaintiffs' Section 1983 Claim Against the District

"[I]n considering whether a plaintiff has stated a claim for municipal liability, the district court must conduct a two-step inquiry." Baker v. Dist. of Columbia, 326 F.3d 1302, 1306 (D.C. Cir. 2003). "First, the court must determine whether the complaint states a claim for a predicate constitutional violation." Id. Second, and if so, "the court must determine whether the complaint states a claim that a custom or policy of the municipality caused the violation." Id.

1. Predicate Constitutional Violation

Plaintiffs assert that the District violated their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches, their Fifth Amendment right to due process, and their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. The District does not contend that plaintiffs' complaint fails to state a Fourth Amendment claim. It does argue, however, that ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.