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Crabbe v. National Self Service Storage

United States District Court, District of Columbia

July 25, 2013

LIDIA EMELINDA PEREZ CRABBE, Plaintiff,
v.
NATIONAL SELF SERVICE STORAGE, Defendant

LIDIA EMELINDA PEREZ CRABBE, Plaintiff, Pro se, Brooklyn, NY.

For NATIONAL SELF SERVICE STORAGE, Defendant: Jeffrey William Stickle, LEAD ATTORNEY, WILSON FORTE LLP, Hagerstown, MD.

OPINION

BARBARA JACOBS ROTHSTEIN, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the Court on defendant's Motion to Dismiss With Prejudice, or in the Alternative, for Judgment on the Pleadings [ECF No. 8]. For the reasons discussed below, the motion will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff brings this action for " Breach of Contract under False Preten[s]es" and " Fraudulent[] Charges," Compl. at 1, against National Self Service Storage, " a company engaged in the business of renting personal storage units." Mem. of Grounds & Auth. in Support of Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss, With Prejudice, or in the Alternative, J. on the Pleadings in Favor of the Def. (" Def.'s Mem." ) at 1. It appears that plaintiff rented a storage unit at defendant's facility, that a dispute arose as to the timely payment of rental fees, that defendant assessed late fees and other costs, and that, ultimately, defendant denied plaintiff access to the storage unit and its contents. See generally Compl. As compensation for property and income allegedly lost as a result of defendant's actions, plaintiff demands damages of $100,000.00. Id. at 1.

Defendant concurs, and describes this action as one " aris[ing] from allegations related to a storage unit licensed to the Plaintiff by the Defendant, and from which the Plaintiff was 'locked out' due to failure to pay monthly fees associated with

Page 2

the unit." Mot. to Dismiss With Prejudice, or in the Alternative, J. on the Pleadings in Favor of the Def. (" Mot. to Dismiss" ) ¶ 1. Because plaintiff had " filed a virtually identical claim in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Case No. 2011 CA 004741 B[,] to the claim now before this Honorable Court, raising the same allegations arising from the same events," id. ¶ 2, defendant moves to dismiss on the ground that plaintiff's claims are barred under the doctrine of res judicata. [1] See Def.'s Mem. at 5-7 (page numbers designated by ECF). [2]

Exhibits submitted with defendant's motion demonstrate that, on June 16, 2011, plaintiff filed a civil action against National Self Service Storage in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. See Def.'s Mem., Ex. 1 (Complaint, Crabbe v. National Self Service Storage, No. 2011 CA 004741 B (D.C. S.Ct. June 16, 2011)). The complaint alleged that defendant charged her late fees improperly, denied her access to her property, refused to accept tendered rent payments, and threatened to dispose of her property if she failed to pay allegedly fraudulent charges. See id., Ex. 1. To her complaint she attached a two-page typewritten statement -- a copy of which is attached to the complaint filed in this case -- describing her interactions with staff at the storage facility. See id., Ex. 1. On November 5, 2012, after a bench trial on the merits, judgment was entered in defendant's favor, and on defendant's counter-claim " for breach of contract arising from unpaid rent and fees," Mot. to Dismiss ¶ 3, the Superior Court awarded judgment in defendant's favor in the amount of $2,415.00, plus post-judgment interest, Def.'s Mem., Ex. 2 (Judgment, Crabbe v. National Self Service Storage, No. 2011 CA 004741 B (D.C. S.Ct. Nov. 5, 2012), arising from unpaid rent and fees for the storage units.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Dismissal Under Rule 12(b)(6)

" After the pleadings are closed -- but early enough not to delay trial -- a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." [3] Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). " A Rule 12(c) motion is appropriately granted when no material issue of fact remains to be resolved, and the movant is clearly entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Montanans for Multiple Use v. Barbouletos, 542 F.Supp.2d 9, 13 (D.D.C. 2008) (brackets and citations omitted), aff'd, 568 F.3d 225, 386 U.S.App. D.C. 193 (D.C. Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 560 U.S. 926, 130 S.Ct. 3331, 176 L.Ed.2d 1222 (2010); see Lans v. Adduci Mastriani & Schaumberg, L.L.P., 786 F.Supp.2d 240, 265 (D.D.C. 2011) (" Where the well-pleaded facts set forth in the complaint do not ...


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