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Darius Mills v. District of Columbia Department of

December 21, 2010


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


In this action filed pro se, plaintiff alleges that he was deprived of due process during his employment with the District of Columbia's Department of Mental Health and was unlawfully terminated. He also claims that he was subject to workplace harassment, retaliation and defamation. Plaintiff sues "managers" of St. Elizabeths Hospital, namely, Chief Executive Officer Patrick J. Canavan, Director of Civil Programs Clotilde Vidoni-Clark, Human Resources Supervisor Jim Gallo, Chief of Staff Beth Gouse and Employee Relations Specialist Paula Little. Compl. Caption. Through his prolix complaint, he seeks injunctive relief, compensatory damages exceeding $1.5 million and punitive damages. Compl. at 59.

Pending before the Court are Paula Little's Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. # 8] and the remaining defendants' motion to dismiss [Dkt. # 5], each brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Upon consideration of the parties' submissions, and for the reasons explained below, the Court finds that plaintiff has failed to state a federal claim and the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over any non-federal claims. Hence, the Court will grant defendants' motions to dismiss.


Plaintiff was hired on April 28, 2008, as a clinical administrator at St. Elizabeths. See Compl. Attach. (Charge of Discrimination). He received an annual performance evaluation on December 23, 2009. Compl. at 2, 8. By letter dated January 5, 2010, defendant fired plaintiff effective January 22, 2010, and informed him that "appointments to the Management Supervisory Service are at-will; therefore this termination action is neither grievable nor appealable." Supp'l Attach. [Dkt. No. 14-1, pp. 3-4].*fn1 On March 15, 2010, plaintiff lodged the above-referenced charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on the bases of race and retaliation. The EEOC closed plaintiff's file on March 26, 2010, "[b]ased upon its investigation . . . that [it was] unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of [Title VII of the Civil Rights Act]." Id. (Dismissal and Notice of Rights). The EEOC informed plaintiff of his right to file a lawsuit within 90 days of his receipt of the notice. Plaintiff then filed this action on April 27, 2010.

In a confusing 60-page complaint, plaintiff sets forth the following three counts.

I. Retaliation against Mills via written Disciplinary Action for complaining about harassment by an employee under Civil Programs. Id. at 4.

II. Defamation of Character (Libel) by making unfounded negative claims in Mills' ePerformance Evaluation and DC Government Wide Permanent Official Personnel - Employee Record and then denying Mills his Rights to Due Process as indicated in a.) the DC Human Resources Performance Management Manual, b.) on line FAQs page, c.) the District Personnel Manual Issuance System DPM Instruction No. 14-19 O.P. Form 279 (99), d.) an Employees Guide to the DC Govt. Use of ePerformance, and e.) the electronic on line DC Dept. of Human Resources' revised 6-1-08 page 'The Steps in the FY 2009 ePerformance Evaluation Phase[']. Id. at 8.

III. Wrongful Termination in retaliation for being perceived by Vidoni-Clark as a 'Whistle Blower' about a.) Chapter VII Civil Rights Violations (ie.[sic] harassment of Mills by another employee under civil programs and the retaliation against Mills by way of disciplinary action). Also, b.) Mills unintentionally and unknowingly exposing St. Elizabeths Hospital Violation of the Department of Justice orders to discontinue long term use of Benzodiazapines as a chemical restraint in consumers who do not have a Diagnosis to support that use as set forth by DOJ., & c.) Mills' prevention of 'safety violation'/discharge of consumer not ready for the community." Id. at 26-27.

Plaintiff further claims that he was denied his "employee right to due process in meeting to review and challenge said performance evaluation prior to [its] posting on [the] City Wide District Government Human Resource Peoplesoft site as part of [his] official and permanent electronic employee file." Compl. at 36.


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, 556 U.S. ----, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570); Atherton v. District 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 3 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 Cnty. 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 ...

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