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Hubert Philogene v. District of Columbia et al

May 25, 2012

HUBERT PHILOGENE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rudolph Contreras United States District Judge

Re Document No.: 19

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS'MOTION TO DISMISS

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court on the defendants' motion to dismiss. The plaintiff brings suit against the District of Columbia and Sergeant Kenneth W. Mack, alleging that they improperly cited, arrested, and prosecuted him for operating a nightclub without a license. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants' conduct violated the common law and the U.S. Constitution. Because the plaintiff's factual allegations do not support a claim of municipal liability, the court will dismiss the plaintiff's constitutional claims against the District of Columbia. In addition, the court will dismiss the plaintiff's constitutional claims against Sergeant Mack because they are time-barred. Absent any viable federal claims, the court chooses not to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff's common-law claims. Accordingly, the court grants the defendants' motion.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

From 2004 to 2007, the plaintiff operated a restaurant and nightclub in the District of Columbia called The Lime. Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. # 21] at 2. Sergeant Kenneth W. Mack, an officer with the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department, visited The Lime in early 2007 and asked to see the plaintiff's license or permits. Id. Over the next few months, Sergeant Mack issued the plaintiff several citations for operating The Lime as a public hall without a proper permit. Id. In July 2007, the plaintiff was arrested for the same offense. Id. at 3. He was prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to five days in prison. Id.

In May 2008, the plaintiff filed suit against the District of Columbia in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and the defendant removed the plaintiff's action to this court. In May 2011, the plaintiff amended his complaint to name Sergeant Mack as an additional defendant. 2d Am. Compl. [Dkt. # 16]. Now before the court is the defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted.*fn1 See Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss ("Defs.' Mot.") [Dkt. # 19].

III. ANALYSIS

A. The Court Grants the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

1. Legal Standard for a Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6)

All that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require of a complaint is that it contain a "short and plan statement of the claim" in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests. FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2), see Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) does not test a plaintiff's ultimate likelihood of success on the merits; rather, it tests whether a plaintiff has properly stated a claim.

See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). A court considering such a motion presumes the factual allegations of the complaint to be true and construes them liberally in the plaintiff's favor. See, e.g., United States v. Philip Morris, Inc., 116 F. Supp. 2d 131, 135 (D.D.C. 2000). It is not necessary for the plaintiff to plead all elements of his prima facie case in the complaint, Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 511--14 (2002); Bryant v. Pepco, 730 F. Supp. 2d 25, 28--29 (D.D.C. 2010), nor must the plaintiff plead law or match facts to every element of a legal theory, Krieger v. Fadely, 211 F.3d 134, 136 (D.C. Cir. 2000).

Nevertheless, "[t]o 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. 662, 697 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements," are therefore insufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss. Id. A court need not accept a plaintiff's legal conclusions as true, id., ...


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