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Clark v. Computer Science Corp.

United States District Court, District Circuit

August 1, 2013

ANTHONY CLARK, Plaintiff,
v.
COMPUTER SCIENCE CORP., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION [##4, 6, 11, 22, 23, 26]

RICHARD L. LEON, District Judge.

Plaintiff Anthony Clark initiated this action in D.C. Superior Court against his former employer, Insight Global, Inc., and technology companies Kforce, Inc. and Computer Science Corporation ("CSC"). Plaintiff alleged that defendants erroneously accused him of stealing a laptop, thereby triggering his arrest, detention, and criminal prosecution. Defendants removed this action and filed three motions to dismiss and two motions for summary judgment.[1] Plaintiff moved to amend the complaint in such a way as to eliminate federal jurisdiction and to permit the Court to remand the case. Mot. to Amend Compl. and Remand, Feb. 27, 2013 [Dkt. #23] (Pl.'s Mot. to Amend/Remand"). Because plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court GRANTS defendants' Motions to Dismiss, DENIES as moot defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment, and DENIES plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Complaint and Remand.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff began working for Insight Global as a Senior Systems Analyst in December 2009. Compl., June 27, 2012 [Dkt. #1], ¶ 16. Both Insight Global and Kforce were subcontractors for CSC, which provided information technology ("IT") services to the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA"). Id. ¶ 13. In resolving IT inquiries at EPA, plaintiff occasionally took inoperable laptops to his home to conduct diagnostic testing. Id. ¶ 18. esc also issued plaintiff a work laptop, which plaintiff occasionally used for work at home. Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiff alleges that Insight Global, Kforce, and CSC were aware that employees took home both their work laptops and other, inoperable laptops. Id. ¶ 22. Plaintiff also alleges that CSC issued him a "Property Pass" that permitted plaintiff to remove his laptops and other laptops from the job site. Id. ¶ 20.

On February 24, 2011, plaintiff took home his work laptop and one inoperable laptop after work. Id. ¶ 22. The following day, plaintiff came to work without either laptop. Id. ¶ 23. That same day, he learned that his employment with Insight Global was terminated. Jd. ¶ 24. He informed Insight Global Account Manager Olivia Wheeler that he had the two laptops, his badge, and a work telephone at his home that he needed to return to Insight Global. Id. ¶ 26. In the weeks following his termination, plaintiff called Wheeler and other employees at Insight Global, CSC, and Kforce several times to arrange the return of the work property, but he was unable to return the property. Id. ¶¶ 27-30.

Over a month after plaintiff's termination, Kforce contacted the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") to report the inoperable laptop as stolen. Id. ¶ 32. Because the laptop contained software that traced its location when connected to the internet, DHS detected that the laptop was in plaintiff's possession. Id. ¶¶ 35-37. After a DHS agent contacted plaintiff about the laptop, plaintiff returned his work laptop on June 15, 2011 and returned the inoperable laptop on June 20, 2011. Id. ¶ 40.

Three days later, a DHS agent informed plaintiff that he was the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant for receiving the "stolen" laptop. Id. ¶ 41. Plaintiff voluntarily surrendered to the police six days later, at which time he was handcuffed, subjected to a search, and detained for approximately 15 hours. In September 2011, he went to trial in D.C. Superior Court, for which defendants provided witnesses and testimony in an effort to prove that plaintiff committed the crime. Id. ¶ 52. After the short trial, plaintiff was found not guilty. Id. ¶ 51, 53.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Defendants move to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the ground that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In evaluating defendants' motions, the Court must "treat the complaint's factual allegations as true" and "grant plaintiff the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged." Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in original) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). Rather, the complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (factual allegations must "be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level"). "[T]he court need not accept inferences drawn by plaintiff[ ] if such inferences are unsupported by the facts set out in the complaint." Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994). Indeed, "where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not show[n]'-'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

Defendants also move for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings, stipulations, affidavits, and admissions in a case show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The court must accept as true the evidence of, and draw "all justifiable inferences" in favor of the party opposing summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (citation omitted). A genuine issue exists only where "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. at 248.

ANALYSIS

Plaintiff's complaint against defendants alleges five claims of torts: false arrest, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, training, supervision and retention. Compl. ¶¶ 31-79. Unfortunately, for plaintiff, he fails to plead the facts necessary to establish the elements of any of his claims. Because the complaint lacks allegations to support plausible claims, defendants' Motions to Dismiss are GRANTED, and defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment are DENIED as moot. Further, because plaintiff cannot be permitted to amend his complaint for the purpose of eliminating federal jurisdiction, plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint and Remand is DENIED.

I. Defendants' Motions to Dismiss

Defendants' motions to dismiss must be granted because plaintiff has not put forth "sufficient factual matter" to create any plausible claims for relief against any of the defendants. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Plaintiff's first claim, false arrest, requires facts sufficient to conclude that he was unlawfully detained. Dewitt v. District of Columbia, 43 A.3d 291, 295 (D.C. 2012); see also Magwoodv. Giddings, 672 A.2d 1083, 1086 (D.C. 1996) (probable cause for an arrest and detention constitutes a valid defense to false arrest claim). False arrest does not occur when a person simply "giv[es] facts to an officer showing that an offense has been committed, " Smith v. District of Columbia, 399 ...


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