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Fonseca v. Salminen

United States District Court, District of Columbia

October 9, 2012

Luis A. FONSECA, Plaintiff,
Eric Neal SALMINEN, et al., Defendants.

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Leonard C. Pederson, Jr., Schulze & Pederson, P.C., Washington, DC, Thomas Andrew Medford, Jr., Timothy S. Smith & Associates, Greenbelt, MD, for Plaintiff.

Kraig B. Long, Shawe & Rosenthal, LLP, Baltimore, MD, for Defendants.



Plaintiff Luis A. Fonseca filed suit against Defendants Eric Salminen and Asbestos Specialists, Inc. (collectively " Defendants" ) in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, seeking damages related to an incident in which Defendant Salminen purportedly struck Fonseca in the face. Asbestos Specialists timely removed the case to this Court and filed a [3] Motion for Summary Judgment. Upon consideration of the parties' pleadings [1] and the relevant legal authority, the Court finds it is well settled in the District of Columbia that Plaintiff's common law claims are precluded by the District of Columbia Workers' Compensation Act. Accordingly, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.


The underlying facts of this case are undisputed. At all relevant times, Luis Fonseca and Eric Salminen were employed by Asbestos Specialists. Defs.' Stmt. of Undisputed Material Facts, ECF No. [3-1], ¶ 2. Salminen served as Fonseca's supervisor while removing asbestos from the central office for the General Services Administration in the District of Columbia. Id.; Pl.'s Ex. 1 (Fed. Protective Serv. Report) at 1. On July 25, 2011, while at the worksite, Salminen suddenly struck Fonseca in the face and left eye. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 1. When interviewed by Federal Protective Service officers, Salminen indicated that " he spoke with [Fonseca] but d[id] not remember causing any damage to him. Pl.'s Ex. 1 at 2. Fonseca informed officers that " he was performing his work assignment when he was assaulted." Id. Fonseca filed suit on July 17, 2012, asserting claims for simple assault, battery, negligent supervision, and punitive damages as to both Defendants. See generally Compl., ECF No. [1-4]. Asbestos Specialists filed a notice of removal on September 4, 2012, on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, Notice of Removal, ECF No. [1], ¶ 1, and subsequently moved for summary judgment.[2]


Summary judgment is appropriate where " the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and [that he] ... is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ.P. 56(a). The mere existence of some factual dispute is insufficient on its own to bar summary judgment; the dispute must pertain to a material fact, that is, one that " might affect

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the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The dispute must also be " genuine," meaning that there must be sufficient admissible evidence for a reasonable trier of fact to find for the non-movant. Id. In order to establish a genuine dispute, the non-moving party must (a) cite to specific parts of the record— including deposition testimony, documentary evidence, affidavits or declarations, or other competent evidence— in support of his position, or (b) demonstrate that the materials relied upon by the opposing party do not actually establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Conclusory assertions offered without any factual basis in the record cannot create a genuine dispute sufficient to survive summary judgment. Ass'n of Flight Attendants— CWA, AFL-CIO v. U.S. Dep't of Transp., 564 F.3d 462, 465-66 (D.C.Cir.2009). When " a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact," the district court may " consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

When faced with a motion for summary judgment, the district court may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence; instead, the evidence must be analyzed in the light most favorable to the non-movant, with all justifiable inferences drawn in its favor. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505. If material facts are genuinely in dispute, or undisputed facts are susceptible to divergent yet justifiable inferences, summary judgment is inappropriate. Moore v. Hartman, 571 F.3d 62, 66 (D.C.Cir.2009). In the end, the district court's task is to determine " whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to [the trier of fact] or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505.


The District of Columbia Workers' Compensation Act (" WCA" ), D.C.Code §§ 32-1501 et seq., provides a no-fault system of liability for the injury or death of an employee in the District of Columbia. D.C.Code § 32-1503(a), (b). " The compensation to which an employee is entitled under this chapter shall constitute the employee's exclusive remedy against the employer, or ... any employee ... for any illness, injury, or death arising out of and in the course of his employment." D.C.Code § 32-1504(b). " [O]nly injuries specifically intended by the employer to be inflicted on the ...

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