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James M. Patock, Sr v. U.S. Department of the Interior et al

July 6, 2012


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


Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, sues several District of Columbia and United States defendants for alleged constitutional violations and various common law torts. The suit arises out of plaintiff's arrest and conviction following a search of his trailer on the National Mall in the District that uncovered firearms. See generally Patock v. Fox News Television Channel, 1:11-cv-974, 2012 WL 695892, at *1-2 (E.D. Va. Mar. 1, 2012). In addition to naming the Department of Interior ("DOI") and its component United States Park Police, plaintiff sues at the federal level the Department of Justice ("DOJ") and its component Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"). At the local level, plaintiff sues the District of Columbia, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Department of Health, Department of Corrections Director Thomas P. Hoey, District of Columbia Jail Warden Simon Wainwright (hereafter "District of Columbia defendants"), the Council of the District of Columbia, and Virginia German Shepherd Rescue, Inc. ("VGSRI"). See Am. Compl. [Dkt. # 7] (Caption).

Pending are the District of Columbia defendants' motion to dismiss the amended complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [Dkt. # 15], which plaintiff has not opposed, and the federal defendants' motion to dismiss under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), which plaintiff has opposed. Upon consideration of the parties' submissions and taking judicial notice of civil proceedings in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the Court will grant both motions to dismiss. In addition, the Court will dismiss the complaint against the D.C. Council and VGSRI, neither of which has appeared in the case, under the screening provision of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).


This civil action is based on the same events underlying plaintiff's earlier-filed action in the Eastern District of Virginia. Since the factual record is more developed in the Eastern District, this Court hereby adopts the Eastern District's background statement set forth in its recently issued Memorandum Opinion. Patock, 2012 WL 695892 at *1-2. Notably, plaintiff pleaded guilty on December 20, 2010, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, "to Attempted Carrying of A Pistol Without a License and Possession of an Unregistered Firearm, in violation of D.C. Code §§ 22-4504(a), 7-2502.01." Id. at *2. He was sentenced on January 14, 2011, to a 180-day suspended sentence and one-year probation. Id. See also Patock v. District of Columbia, Crim. No. 2010 CF2 020876 (D.C. Super. Ct. Docket).

Proceedings in the Eastern District of Virginia

Plaintiff filed a civil complaint in the Eastern District on September 12, 2011, against DOI and 13 other defendants. Patock, 2012 WL 695892 at *2. The Eastern District categorized plaintiff's claims against DOI as (1) an FTCA claim based on alleged defamation by the Park Police and unlawful conversion of plaintiff's German Shepherd and (2) a constitutional claim based on "DOI's [alleged] refusal to return [plaintiff's] dog and the weapons seized during his arrest." Id. In his "prayer for relief [plaintiff] request[ed] [the] return of his dog, but not his firearms, and $20 million in damages." Id.

On March 1, 2012, the Eastern District granted DOI's motion to dismiss and dismissed plaintiff's claims against DOI with prejudice. Id. at *7. That court found, inter alia, (1) that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the FTCA claim because plaintiff had failed to properly exhaust his administrative remedies, (2) that plaintiff had no available remedy against DOI for constitutional violations, and (3) that DOI could not redress plaintiff's claim for the return of his German Shepherd because "it followed D.C. law and legally transferred Patock's dog to the Humane Society" and, thus, lacked custody or control over it. Id. at *4-6. The Eastern District further determined that since plaintiff's firearms "were confiscated in the course of his arrest in the District of Columbia," it was not the proper venue for litigating plaintiff's claim for the return of his firearms. Id. at *6.

The Proceedings in this Court

In rambling allegations supporting the instant complaint filed here on November 1, 2011, plaintiff generalizes the alleged wrongs "by the named defendants" as "[o]fficial and police malfeasance, and misconduct, police brutality, gross negligence . . . issuing false statements, withholding evidence, destroying evidence, violation of the United States Freedom of Information Act, negligently refusing to provide retractions of statements and information found to be incorrect and fraud are also included." Am. Compl. at 2 ¶ 1. Plaintiff claims specifically that his constitutional rights were violated in the following ways:

* His "second amendment rights were violated by the courts' refusal to follow the law as specified in DC code 4504.01." Id. ¶ 2. He alleges that since he lived in his trailer for more than two years, "the courts ignored the exemption that allowed me to have weapons for self-defense in my home." Id.

* The United States Park Police violated his due process rights under the Fifth Amendment when it "confiscated [his] legal weapons . . . and . . . refused to return them." Id. ¶ 4.

* His "sixth amendment rights were violated when the judge allowed a statement allegedly made by James McFarland into evidence during a hearing on November 5, 2010 without having the person present in the courtroom for cross-examination." Id. at 3 ¶ 5.

* His "eighth amendment rights . . . were violated when [he] was kept in confinement [in the District of Columbia] where [he] was subject to constant physical and verbal abuse from both other inmates and . . . many of the guards. One guard Sargeant even loudly stated in my hearing that white prisoners ...

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