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Eric Herrion v. Children's Hospital National Medical Center

May 24, 2011

ERIC HERRION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL NATIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Eric Herrion ("Herrion") commenced this action against Children's National Medical Center ("Children's National"), sued here under the name Children's Hospital National Medical Center, and three security officers in its employ - Emerson Anderson, Jason Green, and Calvin White (the "Security Officers"; together with Children's National, "Defendants") - alleging that he was attacked, beaten, and restrained by the Security Officers while visiting his sister at Children's National in September 2007. In his [6] Amended Complaint, Herrion asserts two claims against the Security Officers - each of whom has been commissioned as a special police officer by the Mayor of the District of Columbia*fn1 - under Section 1 of the Ku Klux Act of 1871, Rev. Stat. § 1979, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983"), as well as a common law claim for malicious prosecution against both Children's National and the Security Officers.

Presently before the Court is Defendants' [7] Motion for Summary Judgment. Invoking the doctrine of res judicata, Defendants argue that Herrion is precluded from seeking any relief in this action in light of a prior action he brought against Children's National in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. The Court agrees. Therefore, upon a searching review of the parties' submissions, the relevant authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court shall grant Defendants' motion and dismiss this action in its entirety.

I. PRELIMINARY MATTERS

Preliminarily, the Court pauses to make two overarching observations about the nature of Defendants' motion and Herrion's opposition to that motion.

First, although styled in the alternative as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Defendants' motion turns upon consideration of materials that are outside the scope of the pleadings. Indeed, in the course of briefing the motion, both parties effectively treat the motion as one for summary judgment. For his part, Herrion does not suggest either that he has been deprived "a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion," Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d), or that he "cannot present facts essential to justify [his] opposition," Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d). Therefore, the Court shall treat the motion solely as one for summary judgment.

Second, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has supplemented Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure with Local Civil Rule 7(h)(1), which requires that each party submitting a motion for summary judgment attach a statement of material facts for which that party contends there is no genuine dispute. The party opposing the motion must, in turn, submit a responsive statement enumerating all material facts which the party contends are genuinely disputed. See LCvR 7(h)(1). Both the moving party's initial statement and the opposing party's responsive statement must be based on "references to the parts of the record relied on to support the statement." Id. This well-reasoned rule "places the burden on the parties and their counsel, who are most familiar with the litigation and the record, to crystallize for the district court the material facts and relevant portions of the record." Jackson v. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, 101 F.3d 145, 151 (D.C. Cir. 1996). In this case, while Herrion has filed a responsive statement, his chosen approach falls short of what is required in two material respects. First, Herrion occasionally responds to factual matters identified by Defendants simply by characterizing them as "irrelevant and immaterial." See Pl.'s Response to Defs.' Alleged Stmt. of Undisputed Material Facts, ECF No. [8], ¶¶ 8, 16, 21-26, 28. Such a response is patently insufficient to controvert the truth of the matters identified. To the extent these matters turn out to be material to the resolution of this motion, Herrion has failed to supply a basis for treating them as controverted. Second, while Herrion suggests that he disputes certain factual matters identified by Defendants, he repeatedly does so without citing to any competent evidence in the record. See id. ¶¶ 10-11, 14, 16. However, a responsive statement must include specific "references to the parts of the record relied on to support the statement."*fn2 LCvR 7(h)(1). In each of these respects, Herrion has failed to discharge his burden under the Local Rules of this Court. Therefore, in an exercise of its discretion, the Court shall assume that the uncontroverted facts identified by Defendants in their statement are admitted for purposes of resolving the pending motion.

II. BACKGROUND

This action turns on events that are alleged to have transpired on September 17, 2007. See Am. Compl., Docket No. [6], ¶ 8. Briefly stated, Herrion alleges that, while he was visiting his sister at Children's National on that date, he was attacked, beaten, and restrained by the Security Officers, who subsequently fabricated a charge of assault against him in order to "cover up" their alleged wrongful conduct. See id. ¶¶ 9-10, 22.

A. Herrion Brings Suit in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia

Significantly, this is not the first time that Herrion has brought suit in connection with these alleged events. On September 17, 2008, Herrion commenced an action against Children's National in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia (the "Superior Court action"). Defs.' Stmt. of Undisputed Material Facts ("Defs.' Stmt."), ECF No. [7], ¶ 1. In that action, Herrion asserted claims against Children's National for assault and battery and false arrest.*fn3 Id. ¶ 3. Both claims were predicated upon the same sequence of events that allegedly occurred when Herrion went to Children's National to visit his sister on September 17, 2007.

Like here, the operative allegations in the Superior Court action were as follows:

* Herrion was asked to leave the room where his sister was receiving treatment;

* Despite complying with the request, he was followed and harassed as he was leaving the building;

* Once outside, the Security Officers attacked and restrained him;

* Herrion was taken inside the building by the Security Officers and held in a room;

* Herrion was harassed while the police were called to the scene; and

* The Security Officers provided the police with manufactured evidence concerning the events that transpired.

Defs.' Stmt.¶ 5 & Ex. 1 ¶¶ 5-7. In the Superior Court action, Herrion brought suit against Children's National - the only named defendant in that action - on the theory that Children's National was vicariously liable for the acts of the Security Officers in its employ. Id. ¶¶ 5-6 & Ex. 1 ¶¶ 8-9.

Children's National answered the complaint and the parties proceeded to conduct discovery. Defs.' Stmt. ¶¶ 7-8. Eleven months before the trial began, Children's National identified the three Security Officers involved in the altercation by name and produced a copy of the security camera footage recording the events that served as the basis for the action. Id. ¶¶ 8-9 & Ex. 4 at 4, 6-8.

A five-day jury trial began on January 25, 2010. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 15. The two claims at issue at trial were Herrion's claims for assault and battery and false arrest. Id. Herrion introduced the security camera footage into evidence. Id. ¶ 16. On February 2, 2010, the jury returned a split verdict, finding in favor of Children's National on Herrion's claim for false arrest and in Herrion's favor on his claim for assault and battery. Id. ¶ 17 & Ex. 10 at 1. Herrion was awarded $30,000 in compensatory damages. Id. ¶ 17 & Ex. 10 at 2. The Superior Court entered a final judgment that same ...


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