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Jefferies v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

January 8, 2013

Nardyne JEFFERIES, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants.

Page 43

John F. Mercer, Mercer Law Associates, PLLC, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

Steven J. Anderson, Denise J. Baker, Office of Attorney General for DC, William Mark Nebeker, U.S. Attorney's Office, Clifford E. Pulliam, DC Housing Authority, Washington, DC, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ROYCE C. LAMBERTH, Chief Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

This case arises out of the tragic March 30, 2010 death of sixteen-year-old Brishell Tashé Jones. The " theft" of a five-dollar piece of costume jewelry set off a chain of senseless retaliatory violence, eventually taking the lives of five teenagers. After attending the funeral of another young homicide victim, Ms. Jones congregated with a group of mourners on South Capitol Street. Orlando Carter and his crew— seeking revenge for an earlier assault— indiscriminately fired into the crowd from a rented minivan. Ms. Jones died from a gunshot wound to the head.[1]

Plaintiff Nardyne Jefferies is the mother of Ms. Jones, and the personal representative and executor of her estate. She has sought to hold a wide array of government agencies and private actors responsible for the death of her daughter. Among those parties is Romanian National Company ROMARM S.A. (" ROMARM" ), which the Complaint alleges is " the manufacturer and exporter of the AK-47 assault rifle used in the retaliatory drive-by murder of Brishell Jones." Compl. ¶ 30. The plaintiff alleges, " ROMARM had a duty to act, and either negligently or intentionally failed to act, or acted in a manner that created and/or increased the danger that put Brishell Jones directly in harm's way on March 30, 2010." Id.

The law is very clear: The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (" PLCAA" ) explicitly bars this kind of suit. 15 U.S.C.A. §§ 7901-03 (West 2013). This Act prohibits suits against firearms manufacturers and dealers for injuries " resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of" a firearm " by the person or a third party." Id. § 7903. Since the controlling law unambiguously bars plaintiff's claims

Page 44

against ROMARM, a sua sponte dismissal is appropriate. The Court will dismiss all plaintiff's claims against ROMARM with prejudice.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint contain " ‘ a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,’ in order to ‘ give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.’ " Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). Under Rule 12(b)(6), a court may dismiss a cause of action or case for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

Typically, a court considers whether to dismiss a claim after the defendant files a motion to dismiss. " Complaints may also be dismissed, sua sponte if need be, under Rule 12(b)(6) whenever ‘ the plaintiff cannot possibly win relief.’ " Best v. Kelly, 39 F.3d 328, 331 (D.C.Cir.1994) (quoting Baker v. Director, United States Parole Comm'n, 916 F.2d 725, 726 (D.C.Cir.1990)).[2] In this District, " Courts may dismiss the action sua sponte under Rule 12(b)(6) as ‘ [n]either the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure nor any federal statute expressly prohibits sua sponte dismissals for failure to state a claim’ nor does any decision of the Supreme Court." Maynard v. District of Columbia, 579 F.Supp.2d 137, 142 (D.D.C.2008) (quoting Baker, 916 F.2d at 725, 726 & n. 2).

The court may dismiss a claim with prejudice when amending the complaint would be futile. See Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1209 (D.C.Cir.1996) (dismissal with prejudice appropriate when " the allegation of other facts consistent with the challenged pleading could not possibly cure the deficiency" ) (internal quotation marks omitted) (emphasis omitted); Carty v. Author Solutions, Inc., 789 F.Supp.2d 131, 135-36 (D.D.C.2011) (dismissal with prejudice appropriate when ...


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