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Daryl L. Bullock v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

May 6, 2013

DARYL L. BULLOCK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy Berman Jackson United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Daryl L. Bullock ("Bullock") brings this action against defendants Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority ("WMATA") and WMATA police officer M. E. McKinney ("Officer McKinney"), arising from an alleged physical altercation between Bullock and McKinney. In the complaint, Bullock asserts claims of false arrest and negligent training and supervision against WMATA, Compl. [Dkt. # 1] ¶¶ 31--33, 38--40, and of false arrest and use of excessive force against Officer McKinney, id. ¶¶ 31--37. The false arrest and use of excessive force claims are asserted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983"). Id.

Officer McKinney filed a motion to dismiss the claims against him for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue. Def. M. E. McKinney's Mot. to Dismiss ("McKinney's Mot.") [Dkt. # 8]. WMATA filed a separate motion to dismiss the claims against it, asserting sovereign immunity and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Def. WMATA's Mot. to Dismiss ("WMATA's Mot.") [Dkt. # 9]. Plaintiff filed an opposition to McKinney's motion, Pl.'s Opp. to Def. McKinney's Mot. ("Pl.'s Opp.") [Dkt. # 13], but not to WMATA's motion. Instead, Bullock has filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint, which abandons all claims against WMATA and asserts one new claim against Officer McKinney. Pl.'s Mot. for Leave to File Am. Coml. ("Mot. for Leave") [Dkt. # 12]

Because the Court finds that the District of Columbia is an improper venue for the claims in the proposed amended complaint, but that the District of Maryland is an appropriate venue, the Court will grant plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended complaint, deny WMATA's motion to dismiss as conceded and therefore moot, deny McKinney's motion to dismiss as moot, and transfer the case to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are alleged in both the original complaint and proposed amended complaint, except where noted.

In the late afternoon of June 16, 2010, Bullock -- a citizen and resident of the District of Columbia, Compl. ¶ 3; Proposed Am. Compl. [Dkt. # 12-1] ¶ 3 -- stopped at Chuck's Liquor Store in Maryland after exiting the Metro. Compl. ¶¶ 6--7; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶¶ 6--7. He cashed his payroll check at the liquor store, and allegedly purchased a non-alcoholic Red Bull energy drink and a bag of peanuts. Compl. ¶ 8; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 8. When Bullock exited the store, he engaged in conversation with some acquaintances, one of whom asked Bullock to purchase a Red Bull for him. Compl. ¶ 9; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 9. Bullock agreed and then the two men drank their Red Bulls together as they talked in front of the liquor store. Compl. ¶¶ 9--10; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶¶ 9--10.

The complaints allege that immediately after the men threw their empty cans into a nearby trash can, two casually-dressed, unidentified men "aggressively approached." Compl. ¶ 11; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 11. One of these individuals was later identified as Officer McKinney, who is employed by WMATA as a police officer. Compl. ¶¶ 5, 11; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 4. Bullock believed that the two planned to rob him, so he began to walk away. Compl. ¶ 13; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 13. The complaints allege that at that point, Officer McKinney grabbed Bullock, threw him against a glass window, grabbed his throat, and forcibly threw him to the ground. Compl. ¶ 14; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 14. According to the complaints, Officer McKinney proceeded to violently beat Bullock. Compl. ¶ 14; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 14. At some point, Officer McKinney allegedly handcuffed Bullock. Compl. ¶ 18; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 17. The proposed amended complaint adds that Bullock lost consciousness. Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 18.

Eventually, an ambulance took Bullock, still handcuffed, to Prince George's County Hospital in Maryland. Compl. ¶¶ 17--18; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 18. Bullock remained in the hospital for the next three days, from June 16 to 19, 2012. Compl. ¶ 24; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 24. Bullock allegedly remained handcuffed during his first two days in the hospital, and police officers -- including Officer McKinney -- remained present in or near his hospital room, causing him to fear for his safety and well-being. Compl. ¶¶ 24--25; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶¶ 24--25.

According to the complaints, sometime after the altercation, Officer McKinney charged Bullock with "resisting arrest and illegally consuming an alcoholic beverage on public property." Compl. ¶ 21; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 21. On or about June 18, 2012, Officer McKinney prepared a probable cause statement for a WMATA police commissioner. Compl. ¶ 22; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 22. The complaints allege that in this statement, Officer McKinney falsified his reasons for detaining Bullock, and that the charges against Bullock were based on the allegedly false statement. Compl. ¶¶ 22--23; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶¶ 22--23. All charges against Bullock were dismissed at his initial court hearing. Compl. ¶ 26; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 26.

Bullock alleges that these events caused him to experience "tramatic [sic] brain injury, substantial memory loss, epileptic seizures, very bad headaches, and significant embarrassment and humiliation." Compl. ¶ 27; Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 27. The proposed amended complaint adds that some of these injuries persist. Proposed Am. Compl. ¶ 27.

Bullock filed the original complaint in this action on June 18, 2012. The complaint alleges that WMATA and Officer McKinney violated Section 1983 by falsely arresting him (Count I), that Officer McKinney violated Section 1983 by using excessive force against him (Count II), and that WMATA negligently trained and supervised Officer McKinney (Count III). Compl. ¶¶ 31--40. McKinney filed a motion to dismiss the claims against him on September 28, 2012, which Bullock opposed on October 22, 2012. WMATA filed a motion to dismiss the claims against it on October 1, 2012. Bullock has not opposed that motion.

Bullock has now filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint. The proposed amended complaint abandons all claims against WMATA. See Mot. for Leave at 1--2 ("Plaintiff has determined to dismiss WMATA as a party Defendant in the immediate case for reasons stated in Defendant's motion to dismiss WMATA.").*fn1 It asserts diversity of citizenship as a basis for jurisdiction. Proposed Am. Compl. ΒΆ 1. And it alleges that Officer McKinney violated Section 1983 by falsely arresting Bullock ...


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