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.

Matthew August Lefande v. District of Columbia

May 21, 2012

MATTHEW AUGUST LEFANDE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barbara J. Rothstein United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Matthew LeFande, proceeding pro se, brings this action against defendant District of Columbia ("District"), alleging a violation of his First Amendment rights, breach of contract, and defamation. This case arises from LeFande's termination from his position as a Police Reserve Officer ("PRO") with the Metropolitan Police Department ("MPD"). Before the Court is the District's motion to dismiss LeFande's breach of contract and defamation claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted [#14]. The District also seeks to dismiss LeFande's claim for punitive damages. Upon consideration of the motion, the opposition thereto, and the record of this case, the Court concludes that the motion should be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

As alleged by LeFande, he began serving as a PRO in 1993. Compl. ¶ 12. As a PRO, LeFande was among a corps of unpaid volunteers who provided assistance to the MPD. See Griffith v. Lanier, 521 F.3d 398, 399 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (describing the role of PROs). In October 2003, LeFande was suspended from his duties after he criticized the MPD in an article published by the Washington City Paper. Compl. ¶¶ 13--15. The MPD subsequently issued an official reprimand and declined to reinstate him. Compl. ¶¶ 17--18. That incident formed the basis of a lawsuit LeFande brought against the MPD in January 2005 for deprivation of his speech and due process rights and common law defamation. LeFande v. District of Columbia, Civ. No. 05-00203 (D.D.C. Jan. 27, 2005) ("LeFande I"). LeFande I was settled in February 2006. According to LeFande, the District promised to return him to his position as a PRO in exchange for LeFande agreeing to dismiss the lawsuit. Compl. ¶ 21.*fn1

Later in 2006, the MPD issued a General Order that limited the collective bargaining rights of PROs and provided that PROs could be dismissed at will. MPD Gen. Order No. 101.3 (Mar. 28, 2006). Several PROs filed a lawsuit challenging the MPD's authority to issue the General Order, and LeFande, who is also a lawyer, represented them in that action. See Griffith v. Lanier, 2007 WL 950087 (D.D.C. Mar. 28, 2007). The Honorable Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. dismissed the Griffith plaintiffs' case for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. They then appealed to the D.C. Circuit. On January 8, 2008, one week before oral argument was scheduled on the appeal, the MPD terminated LeFande from his PRO position without providing a reason. Compl. ¶ 23.The MPD General Order was upheld on appeal. Griffith v. Lanier,521 F.3d 398, 399 (D.C. Cir. 2008).

B. Procedural Background

LeFande filed this action in February 2009. In his complaint, LeFande contends that his January 2008 termination was unlawful because it was in retaliation for his bringing the Griffith litigation. LeFande also contends that his firing violated the putative settlement agreement in LeFande I, resulting in a breach of contract. Finally, he argues that his termination constitutes defamation because it will be incorporated into his "personnel jacket" and will cause injury to his reputation and professional standing.

In June 2009, Judge Kennedy determined that LeFande failed to state a First Amendment retaliation claim because his role in the Griffith lawsuit "did not relate to a matter of public concern." LeFande v. District of Columbia, Civ. No. 09-217, slip op. at 6 (D.D.C. June 25, 2009) [#9]. Having found that LeFande's speech did not relate to a matter of public concern, the court did not address whether LeFande was able to satisfy any of the other elements of a First Amendment retaliation claim. The court then declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over LeFande's common law breach of contract and defamation claims and dismissed his lawsuit. Id. at 7.

LeFande appealed. In July 2010, the D.C. Circuit reversed Judge Kennedy's determination that LeFande's speech did not relate to a matter of public concern and remanded the case for further proceedings. See LeFande v. District of Columbia, 613 F.3d 1155 (D.C. Cir. 2010). Following the D.C. Circuit's decision, the District submitted the motion presently before this Court. The District seeks to dismiss LeFande's breach of contract and defamation claims as well as LeFande's request for punitive damages.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court may dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). In evaluating whether a complaint is sufficient to withstand 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."Sieverding v. Dep't of Justice, 693 F. Supp. 2d 93, 100 (D.D.C. 2010). Although the court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, the court is not required to accept factual allegations or inferences that are unsupported by facts. City of Harper Woods Emps' Ret. Sys. v. Olver,589 F.3d 1292, 1298 (D.C. Cir. 2009).

III. ANALYSIS

A. Breach of ...


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.