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Douglas v. District of Columbia Housing Authority

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 28, 2014




On January 16, 2014, plaintiff filed a motion to reopen this case pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60. (Mem. of P. & A. in Support of Pl.'s Mot. to Reopen ("Mot."), Jan. 16, 2013 [Dkt. No. 28-1].) Plaintiff argues that the Court should reopen the case as to her proposed Count VI based on newly discovered evidence ( id. at 11) and as to her proposed Count VII based on legal error. ( Id. at 16.) For the foregoing reasons, plaintiff's motion to reopen is denied.


The Court's prior Memorandum Opinion lays out the relevant factual background to this Rehabilitation Act case. ( See Mem. Op., Oct. 25, 2013 [Dkt. No. 22] at 1-6.) Plaintiff now comes forth with several new sets of allegations that she contends support the reopening of her case.[1] As to these events, it is noteworthy that none were alleged in plaintiff's amended complaints, but all predated the Court's dismissal of the case on October 25, 2013.

First, plaintiff alleges that during her detail to Stoddert Terrace, which began shortly after she filed this action, someone smashed her car window (Mot., Statement of Facts ("SOF") ¶ 18)) and spray-painted derogatory remarks about her on a D.C. Housing Authority ("DCHA") building. ( Id. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff informed a DCHA Police Officer that she believed a coworker at Stoddert Terrace, who had called her "retarded" during staff meetings and in front of housing project residents ( id. ¶ 12), was responsible. ( Id. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff contends that DCHA did not adequately investigate these claims of harassment. (Mot. at 15.)

Second, plaintiff alleges that during her detail to the Lincoln Heights Management Office beginning August 20, 2013 (SOF ¶ 21), her new supervisor excluded her from staff meetings, never issued her a computer, placed her on a time schedule, and told her that she could not leave the premises without permission - actions the supervisor did not take against any other employee. ( Id. ¶ 22.) Plaintiff also alleges that shortly before Thanksgiving her supervisor gave "food baskets'" to every Lincoln Heights employee except her. ( Id. ¶ 36.)

Third, plaintiff provides e-mail correspondence documenting that on October 22, 2013, a DCHA Labor Relations Manager authorized plaintiff's Lincoln Heights supervisor to record plaintiff's voice using a smart phone ( id. ¶ 29; Mot., Ex. J), purportedly to document plaintiff's use of "foul language in the office." (Mot., Ex. I.) On October 25, 2013, plaintiff's supervisor sent an e-mail to the Labor Relations Manager with a recording of plaintiff. (SOF ¶ 31; Mot, Ex. K.) There is no indication that plaintiff was aware that she was being recorded.

Around that same time, on October 20, 2013, plaintiff's counsel requested from DCHA permission for plaintiff to telework or, in the alternative, to be placed on paid administrative leave on account of the alleged acts of harassment. (SOF ¶ 23; Mot. Ex. F.) Plaintiff's counsel stated that if defendant were to deny plaintiff's request, she would file a motion for a temporary restraining order and injunctive relief. (SOF ¶ 23; Mot. Ex. F.)

On October 25, 2013, the Court dismissed plaintiff's federal claims with prejudice, denied her motion to amend her complaint to add Counts VI and VII on futility grounds, and dismissed her state-law claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (10/25/13 Mem. Op. at 20.) Of relevance to the present motion, the Court held that plaintiff's proposed Count VI - which alleged that DCHA retaliated against plaintiff for bringing this suit by detailing her to Stoddert Terrace - was futile because the detail amounted to a "lateral transfer" that did not constitute an adverse employment action. ( Id. at 17-18.) The Court also held that plaintiff's proposed Count VII - which alleged that DCHA retaliated against plaintiff for bringing a prior suit by demoting her - was futile because, according to the personnel action form attached to her complaint, plaintiff was demoted more than six months prior to filing that case. ( Id. at 18-19.)

Three days after the case was dismissed, on October 28, 2013, DCHA denied plaintiff's request to telework or for administrative leave, asserting that plaintiff needed to make the request personally through DCHA's Human Resources Department. (Mot., Ex. G at 1.) On November 4, 2013, plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration of the Court's denial of her motion to amend her complaint to add Count VII.[2] (Mot. for Reconsideration, Nov. 4, 2013 [Dkt. No. 24].)

On November 22, 2013, plaintiff informed her counsel that her supervisor had video-recorded her. (SOF ¶ 28.) On December 8, 2013, plaintiff's counsel claims that he prepared a draft affidavit regarding the video-recording incident, intending to attach the affidavit to a reply to plaintiff's motion for reconsideration, but ultimately this reply was never filed.[3] (SOF ¶ 37.) Any such reply would have been untimely by at least two weeks under Local Rule 7(d), and on December 9, 2013, the Court denied plaintiff's motion for reconsideration. (Mem. Op. & Order, Dec. 9, 2013 [Dkt. No. 26] at 2.)


Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) permits a court to grant relief from a final judgment for several enumerated bases, Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1)-(5), or, in the alternative, for "any other reasons that justifies relief." Id. 60(b)(6). A district court "is vested with a large measure of discretion in deciding whether to grant a Rule 60(b) motion." Twelve John Does v. Dist. of Columbia, 841 F.2d 1133, 1138 (D.C. Cir. 1988). In exercising this discretion, the Court "must balance the interest in justice with the interest in protecting the finality of judgments." Summers v. Howard Univ., 374 F.3d 1188, 1193 (D.C. Cir. 2004). As such, "[t]he party seeking relief ...

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