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Wall v. Babers

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

January 2, 2014

Lucas WALL, Appellant,
v.
Lucinda BABERS, et al., Appellees.

Argued Feb. 19, 2013.

Page 795

Lucas Wall, pro se.

Richard S. Love, Senior Assistant Attorney General, with whom Irvin B. Nathan, Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General, and Donna M. Murasky, Deputy Solicitor General, were on the brief, for appellee.

Before FISHER and EASTERLY, Associate Judges, and STEADMAN, Senior Judge.

EASTERLY, Associate Judge:

After the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) declined to renew his driver's license, Lucas Wall sued the District of Columbia and Lucinda Babers in her official capacity as the director of the DMV. The trial court determined that Mr. Wall had failed to state a claim and granted the District's motion to dismiss the amended complaint under Super. Ct. Civ. R. 12(b)(6). Mr. Wall appealed. Mr. Wall makes a number of arguments, which, when distilled, amount to two claims: (1) that the DMV was required to renew his license; and (2) that he was not given adequate pre- or post-deprivation process when his license was not renewed. We affirm.[1]

I. Facts

Because we are reviewing an order dismissing Mr. Wall's complaint under Super. Ct. Civ. R. 12(b)(6), we assume all the facts

Page 796

pled in his amended complaint are true. See Potomac Dev. Corp. v. District of Columbia, 28 A.3d 531, 544 (D.C.2011). In May 2006, Mr. Wall received a speeding ticket in Maine. At the time, Mr. Wall lived in Boston and had a Massachusetts driver's license. Mr. Wall called the Violations Bureau in Maine, and the prosecutor there agreed to enter a nolle prosequi in his case. Shortly after receiving the Maine speeding ticket, Mr. Wall moved to the Washington, D.C. area. Mr. Wall established D.C. residency in February 2007 and received a D.C. driver's license at that time. Mr. Wall maintained a valid D.C. license for four years.

Before his D.C. driver's license expired in 2011, Mr. Wall attempted to renew it online, but he received an error message indicating that he could not do so because there were " stops" associated with his record. After some initial confusion about the cause of the problem, Mr. Wall was told that the stops were related to issues in Maine and Massachusetts. It turned out the traffic case in Maine had never been dismissed. In December 2006, after Mr. Wall had failed to pay the Maine speeding ticket, Maine suspended Mr. Wall's in-state driving privileges [2] and, in December 2009, contacted Massachusetts to request that Mr. Wall's Massachusetts license be suspended. By that time, however, Mr. Wall had exchanged his Massachusetts license for a District of Columbia license, so Massachusetts could no longer suspend his license; instead, Massachusetts, like Maine, suspended Mr. Wall's in-state driving privileges.

In an attempt to clear up these matters, Mr. Wall contacted authorities in Massachusetts, who told him that his Massachusetts driving privileges would be restored if he resolved his traffic case in Maine. The Maine Violations Bureau told Mr. Wall in turn that he could either pay $260— the outstanding $210 fine from his speeding ticket plus a $50 fee to restore his Maine driving privileges— or request that the case be reopened. Neither option was attractive to Mr. Wall.[3] Instead, Mr. Wall opted to seek relief in the District of Columbia. He wrote a letter to Ms. Babers explaining why he believed he was entitled to have his D.C. driver's license renewed and he requested that she approve his renewal application. The DMV eventually told Mr. Wall that it could not renew his license " until the matters in Maine and Massachusetts are clear."

The DMV's refusal to renew his expired license prompted Mr. Wall to file suit. In his complaint he asserted that " [n]owhere in DCMR Chapter 18-1 or in the D.C.Code is there any authority given to the defendants to refuse a noncommercial driver's license renewal application based on records from another state." Mr. Wall thus took the position that the DMV had no choice but to ...


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