*fn6,The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reggie B. Walton United States District Judge,ANGELA TOOKES, PLAINTIFF, v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT." />

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Angela Tookes v. United States of America

September 19, 2011 *fn6

ANGELA TOOKES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reggie B. Walton United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Angela Tookes, the plaintiff in this civil case, seeks damages for assault and battery, false imprisonment, and negligent-training-and-supervision under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), resulting from an incident involving members of the United States Marshals Services ("Marshals Services") on January 21, 2003. Amended Complaint ("Am. Compl.") ¶¶ 9, 18-22, 23, 25, 26, 29. Currently before the Court is the Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the plaintiff's claims of (1) false imprisonment, and (2) negligent training and supervision. After carefully considering the plaintiff's complaint, the defendant's motion for partial summary judgment, and all memoranda of law relating to that motion,*fn1 the Court concludes for the following reasons that the motion is granted as to the negligent-training-and-supervision claim, and denied as to the false imprisonment claim.

I. Background

On an unknown date but relatively near in time to January 21, 2003, a Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia issued a bench warrant for the plaintiff's arrest after she failed to comply with a subpoena. Am. Compl. ¶ 9. Three United States Deputy Marshals then executed the bench warrant on January 21, 2003, and arrested the plaintiff at her home. Id. After taking the plaintiff into custody, the deputy marshals transported her to the Superior Court, where she was fingerprinted and placed in a holding cell while awaiting her initial appearance before the court. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 2 (Dec. 3, 2009 Deposition of Angela Tookes ("Tookes Deposition")) at 94:23-25, 95:11-17. The plaintiff was then escorted into the courtroom, at which point she realized that she had left her United States and Nigerian passports, airline ticket, and keys in the holding cell. Desiring to use the passport and airline ticket as evidence that her recent travels prevented her from complying with the aforementioned subpoena, id. at 100:3-12, the plaintiff sought permission to re-enter the holding cell to retrieve her items, but one of the deputy marshals in the courtroom denied her request, id. at 100:23-25. The plaintiff then appeared before the Judge and was subsequently released from custody. Am. Compl. ¶ 11.

After the hearing, the plaintiff was returned to the "basement" area near the holding cell, where she asked a deputy marshal whether she could retrieve her personal items from the holding cell. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 2 (Tookes Deposition) at 108:23-24. The deputy marshal eventually retrieved her items from the cell for her, but after questioning the legality of her having two passports, the deputy marshal told the plaintiff that he was going to keep her Nigerian passport because it was "unlawful to have two passports." Id. at 113:6-10. He then instructed her to leave the basement area. Id. at 114:11-12. The plaintiff initially refused to leave the basement area and instead asked the deputy marshal for his name, to which he responded by summoning other deputy marshals and instructing them to "get her out of here." Id. at 114:12-16. The plaintiff alleges that the deputy marshals then "forcefully tossed [her] out of a side door of the courthouse," Am. Compl. ¶ 13, and when she realized that she still did not have her keys, the plaintiff knocked on the door and asked for her keys." Id. ¶ 14. At this point, the plaintiff asserts that "[s]everal [deputy marshals] went outside and began to physically attack [her]." Id. ¶ 15. The plaintiff further asserts that, after the attack, the deputy marshals handcuffed her, "dragged" her back into the courthouse, and left her sitting on a chair. Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. 2 (Tookes Deposition) at 138:7-9, 12. After some period of time, a District of Columbia police officer approached her because he had heard someone "crying [for] a long time." Id. at 141:4. The officer then called an ambulance. Am. Compl. ¶ 15. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, the courthouse medical clinic evaluated the plaintiff. Id. ¶ 17.

On July 3, 2003, the plaintiff submitted a Standard Form 95 ("SF-95") to the Marshals Service,*fn2 Def.'s Mem. at 3, which is a form used by a party seeking redress for tort claims against the United States, GAF Corp. v. United States, 818 F.2d 901, 904 n.16 (D.C. Cir. 1987). The Marshals Service did not respond to the plaintiff's claim. Am. Compl. ¶ 4. As a result of the Marshals Service's non-response, the plaintiff filed her Complaint in this Court on November 13, 2007, which she later amended on January 8, 2009. See 28 U.S.C. § 2675(a).*fn3

In her Amended Complaint, the plaintiff asserts that "[t]he . . . [deputy m]arshals intentionally and maliciously assaulted and battered [her]," id. ¶ 19, and that "[a]s a direct and proximate result of the assault and battery, [she] suffered permanent and serious physical injuries," id. ¶ 21, which led to "medical expenses, lost wages, [and] pain and suffering," id. ¶ 22. Additionally, the plaintiff claims that the "[deputy m]arshals falsely imprisoned and arrested [her] by confining her again in a cellblock without legal justification and without her consent." Id. ¶ 24. The plaintiff further asserts that the "Marshal Service was under a duty to properly train and supervise the actions of the . . . [deputy m]arshal[s] in their employ," id. ¶ 27, and that "[t]he . . . Marshal Service breached this duty to properly train and supervise the actions of the . . . [deputy m]arshals, which was the proximate cause of the permanent and serious physical injuries, . . . medical expenses, loss of income[,] and pain and suffering by [the plaintiff]," id. ¶ 28. For these claims, the plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages of $3 million ($1 million per count), the costs associated with these proceedings, "and any and all relief justice so requires." Id. ¶¶ 22, 25, 29.

The defendant has now moved for partial summary judgment on the plaintiff's negligent-training-and-supervision claim, as well as her claim for false imprisonment. As to the plaintiff's negligent-training-and-supervision claim, the defendant provides four arguments in support of its assertion that the Court lacks jurisdiction over this claim. Def.'s Mem. at 8. First, the defendant asserts that "claims involving the training or supervision of government personnel are excluded from the FTCA's waiver of sovereign immunity" pursuant to the discretionary function exception, id. at 8, and "[t]hus, [the] plaintiff cannot bring a claim of negligent training and supervision [against the Marshals Service] under the FTCA," id. at 9. Second, the defendant argues that the "[p]laintiff failed to exhaust [all] administrative remedies for her negligent[-]training[-]and[-]supervision claim," id. at 10, because she "did not provide the [Marshals Service] with any notice in her administrative claim that would have led to an investigation into the training or supervising of [deputy] marshals with no alleged prior or subsequent misbehavior," id. at 11. Third, the defendant argues that the negligent-training-and-supervision claim is without merit "because [the p]laintiff has not even alleged any facts, much less produced evidence, that support such a claim" and instead relies on "vague and conclusory assertions that the [Marshals Service] should [have] done more to train its deputies." Id. at 12. Fourth, the defendant states that the "negligent[-]training[-]and[-]supervision claim fails because [the plaintiff] has not identified an expert to establish the standard of care applicable to the training and supervision of Deputy U.S. Marshals," id. at 13, which "generally is necessary [to bring] claims of negligent[-]training[-]and[-]supervision of police officers," id. (quoting Cotton v. Dist. of Columbia, 541 F. Supp. 2d 195, 207 (D.D.C. 2007)).

With regard to the plaintiff's false imprisonment claim, the defendant argues that summary judgment is appropriate because "[i]n her SF[-]95, [the p]laintiff provided no notice to the [Marshals Service] of any false arrest and imprisonment claim"; specifically, the defendant contends that the SF-95 "makes no reference to the [p]laintiff being reincarcerated in a cellblock, nor does it allege any injury caused by a false arrest or imprisonment apart from physical injuries compensable under the tort of assault and battery." Id. at 15. In addition, the defendant argues that the plaintiff provides contradictory accounts of the events related to the alleged false imprisonment in various documents, such as the plaintiff's Amended Complaint, the plaintiff's SF-95, and the transcript of the plaintiff's deposition, id. at 17, and that "a plaintiff cannot create a genuine issue of material fact by contradicting her own testimony," id. (citing Pyramid Sec., Ltd. v. IB Resolution, Inc., 924 F.2d 1114, 1123 (D.C. Cir. 1991)). The defendant also argues that the plaintiff's claims for total damages should be limited to $250,000 because that is the amount the plaintiff sought in her administrative complaint submitted to the Marshals Services. Id. at 1.

The plaintiff opposes the defendant's motion for partial summary judgment, but she only responds to the defendant's arguments regarding the false imprisonment claim. The plaintiff argues that she exhausted all of the administrative remedies available to her for the false imprisonment claim because her SF-95 states that "[she] was assaulted and falsely arrested."

Pl.'s Opp'n at 4. Although the plaintiff acknowledges that she used the words "falsely arrested" rather than "falsely imprisoned," she argues that "there is no real difference as a practical matter between false arrest and false imprisonment." Id. at 4 n.1 (citing Shaw v. May Dep't Stores Co., A.2d 607, 609 n.2 (D.C. 1970)). Concerning the defendant's challenge to the merits of her false imprisonment claim, the plaintiff characterizes that argument as erroneously "rest[ing] . . . on the notion that [she] was not incarcerated in the cellblock twice," id. at 5, when in fact "[w]hether [she] was falsely imprisoned inside a cellblock or another location (i.e. the Marshals' office) is irrelevant" because "[a]n unlawful imprisonment claim simply requires '[a]n unlawful deprivation of freedom of locomotion for any amount of time, by actual force or a threat of force,'" id. (quoting Marshall v. District of Columbia, 391 A.2d 1374, 1380 (D.C. 1978)). Indeed, the plaintiff, in proffering evidence in support of her false imprisonment claim, relies on her deposition in which she "describ[ed] in detail" when she "was handcuffed by the [deputy] marshals and dragged to their office." Id. As to the defendant's efforts to limit her damages, the plaintiff argues that her total damages are not limited to the amount claimed in the administrative claim because the existence of "newly discovered evidence and/or intervening facts" justifies damages in excess of what she sought during the administrative process. Id. at 2.

In response to the plaintiff's opposition memorandum, the defendant argues that the"[p]laintiff . . . has abandoned her negligent[-]training[-]and[-]supervision claim" because she failed to address any of the arguments the defendant made regarding that claim, and "[t]he Court should, accordingly, treat the arguments as conceded." Def.'s Reply at 1. As for the false imprisonment claim, the defendant further argues that the plaintiff's SF-95 "does not present a false imprisonment or arrest claim," id. at 8, because the "administrative complaint . . . makes no reference to [the plaintiff] being re-incarcerated in a cellblock," and because the administrative complaint "also fails to allege any injury caused by a false arrest or imprisonment apart from the physical injuries she alleges were caused by the alleged assault and battery," id.

Additionally, the defendant contends that the plaintiff is attempting to "re-characterize the basis for her false imprisonment claim in her opposition" memorandum by arguing that "she was falsely arrested when the [Marshals Service] alleged[ly] brought her back into the Superior Courthouse (after removing her from the building) and plac[ing] her in a room." Id. at 9. This re-characterization is, according to the defendant, an attempt by the plaintiff to "effectively amend [the] Amended Complaint," and should be rejected by the Court because "there is no genuine issue of material fact on [the p]laintiff's false imprisonment and arrest claim"; however, the defendant acknowledges that "[i]f the Court permits [the plaintiff] to base her false imprisonment claim on her allegedly being brought back inside the Superior Courthouse, then the United States agrees that there would be a disputed issue of material fact on that portion of the claim." Id. at 11 n.2. The defendant reiterates its limitation-of-damages argument, asserting the absence of any newly discovered evidence because "Ms. Tookes has failed to identify any new injuries that she did not know, or could not have known, about when she filed her SF[-]95 with the [Marshals Services]." Id. at 6.

II. Standard of Review

The Court initially notes that, in its motion for partial summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the defendant raises many arguments relating to the FTCA that are purely jurisdictional in nature. The appropriate vehicle for these contentions, however, is not a summary judgment motion, but a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. See Williams v. United States, 50 F.3d 299, 304-05 (4th Cir. 1995) (holding that, in ruling on applicability of FTCA's discretionary function exception, "the district court should have dismissed the suit for want of jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1)" rather than "granting summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(c)" and discussing the distinct procedural implications associated with the application of the two rules); Broussard v. United States, 989 F.2d 171, 177 (5th Cir. 1993) (per curiam) ("as a general rule, whenever the United States has not waived its sovereign immunity, the district court should dismiss the complaint for want of subject matter jurisdiction rather than dismissing by granting a motion for summary judgment."); see also Bank One Tex. v. United States, 157 F.3d 397, 403 n. 12 (5th Cir. 1998) ("Granting summary judgment is an inappropriate way to effect a dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction . . . [because] the granting of summary judgment is a disposition on the merits of the case" (quotation marks and citation omitted)). Insofar as the defendant's motion asserts that the Court lacks jurisdiction over the plaintiff's claims without referencing the underlying merits of the claims, then, the Court will treat the motion as one for Rule 12(b)(1) dismissal.*fn4 But, to the extent that the defendant challenges the plaintiff's ...


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