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Edwards v. Freeman

United States District Court, District of Columbia

June 28, 2013

PETER G. EDWARDS, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL A. FREEMAN, et al., Defendants

PETER G. EDWARDS, Plaintiff, Pro se, Washington, DC.

For MICHAEL A. FREEMAN, SPIRIT OF FAITH CHRISTIAN CENTER, Defendants: Eric M. Leppo, Stephen S. McCloskey, LEAD ATTORNEYS, SEMMES, BOWEN & SEMMES, Baltimore, MD.

For HOSANNA ENTERPRISES, Defendant: Michael A. DeSantis, LEAD ATTORNEY, HARTEL, KANE, DESANTIS & HOWIE, LLP, Beltsville, MD.

OPINION

Page 121

AMY BERMAN JACKSON, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Peter Edwards brings this action against defendants Michael Freeman, Spirit of Faith Christian Center (" SFCC" ), and Hosanna Incorporated, [1] alleging a hostile and abusive work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Am. Compl. [Dkt. # 3] ¶ ¶ 11-14. This matter is before the Court on defendants' motions to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Freeman and SFCC Mot. to Dismiss Compl. [Dkt. # 4] (" Freeman/SFCC Mot. to Dismiss" ); Freeman and SFCC Mot. to Dismiss Am. Compl. [Dkt. # 6]; Hosanna Mot. to Dismiss; Hosanna Reply to Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Mot. for Summ J. [Dkt. # 12]. Since plaintiff has failed to establish a basis for the Court's jurisdiction under either 28 U.S.C. § 1331 or 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the Court will grant the motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), and it need not and should not address the motions to dismiss on their merits.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a pastor who was affiliated with defendant SFCC and its for-profit arm, Hosanna Incorporated, for more than seventeen years. Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 1, 5. Plaintiff lives in the District of Columbia.

Page 122

Am. Compl. ¶ 2. SFCC is a corporation formed under the laws of the District of Columbia. Ex. 1 to Freeman/SFCC Mot. to Dismiss.

In his capacity at SFCC, plaintiff served as a minister, a personal prayer minister, a ministry marriage counselor, and an instructor for the Spirit of Faith Bible Institute. Am. Compl. ¶ 1. Defendant Pastor Michael Freeman, who served as chancellor at SFCC, also appointed plaintiff to the position of executive director of the teaching ministry, and later to the positions of facilitator and Associate Pastor at SFCC's Ellicott City location. Id. Plaintiff claims that as a result of his ministry for SFCC, the Ellicott City location grew exponentially. Id. Furthermore, plaintiff alleges that he enjoyed a good reputation in his community, at SFCC, and at other ministries around the country. Id.

In September 2011, plaintiff requested a meeting with Freeman to address " satellite failures" that had occurred during two services plaintiff had facilitated. Id. ¶ 6-2. [2] He asserts that when the two met on September 24, 2011, Freeman cursed and swore at him, subjecting him to verbal abuse and embarrassment, and that Freeman left him standing in the parking lot of the church. Id. The two met again on October 1, 2011. Id. This time, Freeman allegedly accused plaintiff of having " a look on his face" and of attempting to leave the ministry without permission, and he threatened to " arrange" for plaintiff to leave the ministry. Id. Plaintiff consequently left the ministry because he " could not continue to be subject to this kind of abuse." Id.

Plaintiff contends that after his departure from SFCC, Freeman attempted to ruin his pastoral reputation by making defamatory statements about him on several different occasions during services, bible studies, and nationwide broadcasts via streaming online video and podcast. Id. ¶ ¶ 6-2, 7. On August 11, 2012, Freeman and SFCC allegedly announced in a sermon that plaintiff was contacting members of Freeman's ministry to inform them he was starting his own ministry, that plaintiff had not kept his word and was out of the order of God, and that Freeman would not support the new ministry. Id. ¶ 7. Plaintiff also asserts that Freeman compared him to cult leader Jim Jones, told the congregation that plaintiff had asked to be released from the ministry without notice, and stated that he had gifted plaintiff a BMW and " a bunch of money." Id. ¶ 7. The sermon was recorded, published on CDs and DVDs, and made available for purchase at Ellicott Center. Id. ΒΆ 10. ...


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