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Spicer v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

January 2, 2013

Deonte SPICER, Plaintiff,
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants.

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Cristen Sikes Rose, Mary Elizabeth Gately, Jerald R. Hess, DLA Piper LLP (US), Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

Soriya R. Chhe, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Washington, DC, for Defendants.



This matter is before the Court on defendant William Thomas' motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and on the remaining defendants' motion for partial judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c). The Court denies the former and grants the latter.


Deonte Spicer (" Plaintiff" ) has brought this action against the District of Columbia, correctional officers Anthony D. Lancaster (" Lancaster" ), Michael A. Makie (" Makie" ), William Conner (" Conner" ) and Robert Fowler (" Fowler" ), and their supervisor, Lieutenant William Thomas (" Lt. Thomas" ), under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the common law of the District of Columbia. See Amended Complaint (" Am. Compl." ) at 1 (introductory paragraph). Although Plaintiff has been serving his sentence at a Federal Bureau of Prisons (" BOP" ) facility, the events giving rise to this action occurred while Plaintiff was in the District of Columbia's custody at the Central Detention Facility (" D.C. Jail" ). See id. ¶ 1.

Deputy United States Marshals transported Plaintiff to the District of Columbia in order that Plaintiff could appear at a proceeding related to the appeal of his criminal conviction. See id. ¶¶ 7-9. Plaintiff arrived at the D.C. Jail on October 30, 2009, id. ¶ 7, and upon his entry into the Receiving and Discharge Unit (" R & D" ), Lancaster recognized him, id. ¶ 9. After searching Plaintiff, Lancaster led him " to an adjacent area that was not monitored by video cameras and where Officers Makie, Conner, and Fowler were waiting." Id. ¶ 10. The four corrections officers then punched, kicked and stomped on Plaintiff. See id. ¶¶ 11-13. The officers then handcuffed Plaintiff's hands behind his back, lifted him " by the throat," and " continued to punch and kick" him. Id. ¶ 14. Plaintiff fell to the floor, and one of the officers photographed him. Id. ¶ 15. Lt. Thomas arrived after the assault ended. Id. ¶ 17. He " suggested that [Plaintiff] had started the incident by attempting to hit one of the officers." Id. Along with Lancaster, Makie, Conner and Fowler, Lt. Thomas " filled out a disciplinary report" representing that Plaintiff " attempted to hit Officer Fowler ‘ on the right side of [his] face.’ " Id. ¶ 18. A disciplinary review panel considered the report and found Plaintiff not guilty. Id. ¶¶ 25-26.

A subsequent medical examination showed that Plaintiff suffered " a

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fracture of the cuboid bone in the left foot." Id. ¶ 22. He wore a cast for over two months and took medication for pain. Id. ¶ 23. In addition, Plaintiff " suffered psychological pain, anxiety, and distress" as a result of the attack. Id. Plaintiff has sustained a permanent injury that " limits his ability to engage in athletic activities and his ability to seek employment that requires physical labor" and prompts him to take pain medication whenever he " engages in activity above walking a short distance." Id. ¶ 24.

Plaintiff alleges that Lancaster, Makie, Conner and Fowler not only used unreasonable force in violation of rights protected under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, id. ¶ 34 (Count I), but also committed assault and battery, id. ¶ 37 (Count II), and intentionally inflicted emotional distress, id. ¶ 40 (Count III). In addition, Plaintiff alleges negligence by the four corrections officers, see id. ¶¶ 43-45 (Count IV), and by their supervisor, see id. ¶¶ 47-50 (Count V). He posits that Lancaster, Makie, Conner and Fowler " were under a legal duty to provide [him] reasonable care ... as he was [an] inmate under their care and supervision," id. ¶ 43, and breached their duty " by punching, kicking, and striking [him] on October 30, 2009," id. ¶¶ 43-44 (Count IV). Lt. Thomas, he alleges, had a duty to " ensur[e] that subordinates provided an appropriate standard of care" to inmates under their control, id. ¶ 47, yet " failed to prevent [the corrections officers'] tortious conduct even though [they] were under his supervision and control," id. ¶ 48, resulting in Plaintiff's physical and psychological injuries, id. ¶ 50. Lastly, Plaintiff asserts that the District of Columbia is vicariously liable for the tortious actions of its employees. See id. ¶¶ 52-54 (Count VI).


A. Lt. Thomas' Motion to Dismiss [2]

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