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Jahr v. The District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

September 16, 2013

MARKUS JAHR, Plaintiff,
v.
THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant

Page 187

For ROBERT ARONSON, Plaintiff: James T. Maloney, LEAD ATTORNEY, MALONEY & MOHSEN, PLLC, Washington, DC.

For MARKUS JAHR, Plaintiff: James T. Maloney, LEAD ATTORNEY, MALONEY & MOHSEN, PLLC, Washington, DC; Richard J. Link, LEAD ATTORNEY, KARPEL, LINK & CAPORALETTI, Rockville, MD.

For DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant: David A. Hyden, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Legal Counsel Division, Washington, DC; Martha J. Mullen, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC.

OPINION

Page 188

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Emmet G. Sullivan, United States District Court Judge.

In October 2000 Plaintiffs Robert Aronson and Markus Jahr first brought this action alleging racial discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (" Title VII" ), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., against defendant the District of Columbia. On December 26, 2001, upon consideration of Plaintiffs' request that they be allowed to exhaust their administrative remedies in their pending appeals to the District of Columbia Office of Employee Appeals before continuing with this litigation, this Court dismissed the Complaint without prejudice to the subsequent filing of a motion to reinstate following disposition of Plaintiffs' appeals. On December 10, 2012, Plaintiff Markus Jahr filed a motion to reinstate the case, which is now ripe for determination. Upon consideration of Plaintiff's motion, the District's Opposition and reply thereto, the applicable law, the case record, and for the reasons set forth below, Mr. Jahr's motion to reinstate is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Markus Jahr and Robert Aronson were employed by the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Services Department (" the Department" ) as paramedics assigned to an Advanced Life Support ambulance, and were responsible for providing emergency medical care to injured persons in the District of Columbia. Jahr v. Dist. of Columbia Office of Employee Appeals, 19 A.3d 334, 336 (D.C. 2011) (" Jahr IV. On the afternoon of January 1, 1999, Mr. Jahr and Mr. Aronson were dispatched to 800 Nicholson Street, NE to respond to a motor vehicle accident involving a trapped victim. Id. After transporting the accident victim to Washington Hospital Center (" WHC" ), they were required by Department policy to return to their quarters by the most direct route. Id. Instead, Mr. Aronson told Mr. Jahr that he needed to

Page 189

fill a personal prescription at a pharmacy, and they took the ambulance to a Target Store located at the Potomac Yards Shopping Center in Alexandria, Virginia. Id.

The ambulance was seen in the shopping center parking lot by a former employee, who reported the ambulance's location to Lieutenant John Clayton at the Department's Communications Division. Jahr v. DC Fire & Emergency Medical Services Department, OEA Matter No. 1601-0180-99 at 4 (May 29, 2003) (" Jahr I " ). Upon learning this information, the EMS Shift Supervisor on duty, Captain Jerome Stark, contacted WHC staff via telephone to verify the ambulance's location, and sent a Lieutenant to the hospital to confirm the location, who searched for but could not locate the ambulance at the hospital. Id. at 5.

Sixteen minutes after the ambulance was seen in Virginia, Mr. Jahr called the Communications Division and asked for more time to retrieve the ambulance's clipboard, which he claimed had been left behind at WHC. Id. When asked his current location, Mr. Jahr said they " were in front of the Washington Hospital Center." Id. at 9. Even after the operator told Mr. Jahr that the ambulance was not at WHC and that a lieutenant was at WHC looking for the ambulance, Mr. Jahr continued to insist that the unit was there. Id. Mr. Jahr later admitted that he was in Alexandria running a personal errand with Mr. Aronson at the time the ambulance was seen at Potomac Yards. Id.

After the Department learned of Mr. Jahr and Mr. Aronson's conduct, their Platoon Chief Supervisor, Captain Jerry Stack, recommended that they be suspended without pay for a period not exceeding twenty days. Compl. ¶ 8. However, Deputy Fire Chief Lillian Carter and the Department's Medical Director, Dr. Wayne E. Moore, recommended that Mr. Jahr and Mr. Aronson be terminated from employment. Id. ¶ 10.

The Department issued a notice of proposal to terminate Mr. Jahr from his position on January 14, 1999, which listed the charges as dishonesty and inefficiency. Id. ¶ 12. On February 12, 1999, during an informal hearing on the merits of the allegations against Mr. Jahr and Mr. Aronson, Assistant Fire Chief Floyd Madison recommended that the adverse actions against them be withdrawn without prejudice to enable the Department to institute new adverse actions. Id. ¶ 13. The notice was withdrawn and subsequently reinstated on February 16, 1999 listing charges of dishonesty and inexcusable neglect of duty. Id. ¶ 15. The final Department decision to terminate Mr. Jahr was issued on April 5, 1999, and he was removed on May 8, 1999. [1] Id. ¶ 8.

B. Procedural History

On May 28, 1999, Mr. Jahr filed a petition for appeal from the Department's notice of his termination in the District of Columbia Office of Employee Appeals (" OEA" ). Jahr I, OEA Matter 1601-0180-99, at 1. In his appeal Mr. Jahr argued, inter alia, that the penalty of removal for his conduct was disparate in comparison to the penalties given to other employees who were found guilty of committing similar, identical, or more severe misconduct. Id. at 13.

On October 10, 2000, while Mr. Jahr's OEA action was still pending, Mr. Jahr and Mr. Aronson filed a complaint in this Court seeking monetary damages and equitable relief from the District of ...


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