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Smith v. Tacha

United States District Court, District Circuit

October 23, 2013

KENNETH L. SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
HONS. DEANELLE REECE TACHA, et al., Defendants

MEMORANDUM OPINION

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, United States District Judge

On October 4, 2013, Plaintiff filed the instant complaint (ECF No. 1) and a Notice of Related Case (ECF No. 2) that indicates that this matter involves the same issues of fact, and grows out of the same event or transaction, as Smith v. Scalia, 13-cv-298. The instant complaint states that “[t]his case is quite literally identical to that of Smith v. Scalia” and notes that this second complaint “is filed prophylactically in order to preserve causes of action in tort against five of the Defendants named above.” (Compl. at 5.)[1] Plaintiff characterizes the instant complaint as a “duplicative filing” (see id.); and indeed, the instant complaint is identical in substance to the amended complaint in Smith v. Scalia: it recites the same allegations, seeks the same relief, and names the same defendants. (Compare Compl., with Smith v. Scalia, No. 12-cv-298, Amended Compl., ECF No. 8 (Aug. 8, 2013).)[2]

Where a plaintiff brings duplicative claims against the same defendants, rather than allowing both cases to proceed or consolidating the two cases, “[t]he better course . . . is to dismiss the claims” in the new case as duplicative of the already-pending claims. See McMillian v. District of Columbia, No. 05-2127, 2006 WL 6927884, at *1 (D.D.C. Sept. 25, 2006); see also Phelps v. Stomber, 883 F.Supp.2d 188, 232-33 (D.D.C. 2012) (“[P]laintiffs may not file duplicative complaints in order to expand their legal rights.” (emphasis in original) (quoting Curtis v. Citibank, N.A., 226 F.3d 133, 140 (2d Cir. 2000))). “Plaintiffs generally ‘have no right to maintain two separate actions involving the same subject matter at the same time in the same court and against the same defendants.” Sturdza v. United Arab Emirates, No. 09-0699, 2009 WL 1033269, at *1 (D.D.C. Apr. 16, 2009) (quoting Walton v. Eaton Corp., 563 F.2d 66, 70 (3d Cir. 1977)). This bar against duplicative pleadings applies to all plaintiffs, whether they are represented by counsel or proceeding pro se. See, e.g., Phelps, 883 F.Supp.2d at 233 (dismissing as duplicative claims of plaintiff represented by counsel); Sturdza, 2009 WL 1033269, at *1 (dismissing pro se plaintiff’s claims as duplicative of, and redundant to, pending actions).

Plaintiff concedes that the instant claims are entirely duplicative to those in the earlier “related” case. Therefore, as set forth in the order accompanying this opinion, the instant case is DISMISSED as entirely duplicative of the claims already pending against these same defendants. See Sturdza, 2009 WL 1033269, at *1 (“In consideration of ‘wise judicial administration, ’ a district court may use its inherent powers to dismiss a suit that is duplicative of another suit in federal court.” (quoting Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424 U.S. 800, 817 (1976))).


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