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Badgett v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 25, 2013

Joanne BADGETT, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Donald M. Temple, Donald M. Temple, P.C., Washington, DC, for Plaintiffs.

Andrew J. Saindon, D.C. Office of Attorney General, Washington, DC, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

THOMAS F. HOGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiffs, 34 former employees of the District of Columbia's Department of Parks and Recreation, brought this action seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief against the District of Columbia. The claims originate from Plaintiffs' dismissal from their positions pursuant to a reduction-in-force. Plaintiffs' five count Complaint alleges they were wrongfully terminated from their positions and that the District violated their Fifth Amendment procedural and substantive due process rights during their administrative appeal of the reduction-in-force.

Pending before the Court are Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [1] [Dkt. No. 3], Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. No. 7] and Plaintiffs' Motion to Supplement the Record In Support of Its Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 15]. Upon careful consideration of the motions, responses thereto, and the record in this matter, the Court grants the District's Motion to Dismiss with respect to Plaintiffs' federal law claims (Counts I-IV); denies Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment; dismisses Plaintiffs' remaining state law claim (Count V) without prejudice; and dismisses Plaintiffs' Motion to Supplement the Record In Support of Its Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as moot.

I. BACKGROUND

The Court lacks no familiarity with the parties in this action nor the circumstances from which the action arises. Indeed, the present suit represents the third action, all originating from the same essential facts, brought against the District Defendants within the last three years. See Am. Fed'n of Gov't Emps., Local 2741 v. District of Columbia, 689 F.Supp.2d 30 (D.D.C.2009) (" AFGE I " ); Am. Fed'n of Gov't Emps., Local 2741 v. District of Columbia, No. 2009 CA 8263 (D.C.Super.Ct. June 23, 2011) (" AFGE II " ).

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Prior to September of 2009, the District of Columbia's Department of Parks and Recreation (" DPR" ), through its Office of Educational Services (" OES" ), " operated approximately twenty-two Early Care and Before and After School Care Centers ... throughout the District of Columbia." Compl. ¶ 4 [Dkt. No. 1]. At some point in 2009, District officials revealed a $4 million funding gap between the operating costs for OES's programs and the revenue generated by those services. Id. ¶ 18, 21. Citing the fiscal distress as the cause, the District elected to " privatize the daycare workers ['] jobs and/or transfer those positions to the District Public School System." Id. ¶ 15; see also id. ¶¶ 17, 19. Furthermore, the District notified Plaintiffs' union, American Federation of Government Employees, Local 2741 (" AFGE" or " Local 2741" ), DPR would undergo a reduction-in-force (" RIF" ). Id. ¶ 16. Effective September 25, 2009, 165 positions within DPR were eliminated. Id. ¶ 20.

Plaintiffs were among those whose positions were eliminated through the RIF. Id. ¶ 1. According to Plaintiffs, the District " intentionally" and " maliciously" manufactured the budgetary shortfall " in order to justify [the] closure of child care centers and contract[ ] out services originally provided by OES." Id. ¶ 10. They allege, the District did so by: intentionally suppressing program enrollment figures; declining to apply for federal funding for the programs; and unlawfully reallocating some $4 million in appropriated funds. Id. ¶ 28. The following actions ensued.

A. Prior Litigation

In August of 2009, individual OES employees, Local 2741, and its bargaining unit members filed suit in this Court seeking to enjoin the RIF. See AFGE I, 689 F.Supp.2d at 33. Relying on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiffs in AFGE I alleged the District's actions leading up to the RIF violated their procedural and substantive due process rights as well as District law. Id. The Court dismissed the procedural due process claim for failure to exhaust available administrative remedies. See id. at 35-36. The substantive due process claim, on the other hand, was dismissed on its merits for failing to state a claim for relief. See id. at 36. The Court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiffs' state law claims. Id. at 37.

Weeks after this Court dismissed AFGE I, Local 2741, its bargaining unit members, and 34 individually named DPR employees filed a complaint against the District of Columbia in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. Their amended complaint alleged numerous violations of District law. See Am. Fed'n of Gov't Emps., Local 2741 v. District of Columbia, No. 2009-CA-8263 (D.C.Super.Ct. June 23, 2011) (attached as Ex. 1 to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss) [Dkt. No. 7-1]. Also finding the plaintiffs had not exhausted their administrative remedies, the Superior Court dismissed the plaintiffs' claims. Id. at 7.

B. Appeal to the Office of Employee Appeals

Plaintiffs eventually turned to the administrative process prescribed by the Comprehensive Merit Protection Act (" CMPA" ), D.C.Code §§ 1-601.01 et seq. , which governs most grievances by District employees. See District of Columbia v. Thompson, 593 A.2d 621, 634 (D.C.1991) (noting the CMPA was created as " a mechanism for addressing virtually every conceivable personnel issue among the District, its employees, and their unions ..." ); Dickerson v. District of Columbia, 806 F.Supp.2d 116, 121 (D.D.C.2011). In the fall of 2009, pursuant to the CMPA, Plaintiffs appealed the RIF to the District's Office of Employee Appeals

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(" OEA" ). See Compl. ¶ 31. Section 1-606.03 of the CMPA governs the appeals procedure, including timing for the resolution of appeals before the OEA. See D.C.CODE § 1-606.03(c). According to § 1-606.03, the OEA is to make jurisdictional determinations within 45 days of the filing of an appeal and decisions on the merits of an appeal are to be issued within 120 days of the appeal. Id. In the spring of 2012, well after the statutory deadlines had passed, the OEA issued initial decisions upholding the RIF.[2] See Initial Decision (March 20, 2012); Initial Decision (March 30, ...


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