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Grimes v. District of Columbia

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

April 17, 2014

ROBERT GRIMES, APPELLANT,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, BUSINESS DECISIONS INFORMATION INC., WELTON WILLIAMS, APPELLEES

Argued December 4, 2013.

Page 108

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CA-2009-9659). (Hon. John M. Mott, Trial Judge).

Gregory L. Latimer, with whom Harold L. Levi was on the brief, for appellant.

Gregory M. Cumming, 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 District of Columbia.

Aaron L. Handleman, with whom Justin M. Flint and Shannon Chaudhry were on the brief, for appellees Business Decisions Information Inc. and Welton Williams.

Before GLICKMAN, BLACKBURNE-RIGSBY, and MCLEESE, Associate Judges.

OPINION

Page 109

McLeese, Associate Judge:

Appellant Robert Grimes seeks review of the Superior Court's dismissal of his claims against the District of Columbia, Business Decisions Information Inc. (" BDI" ), and Welton Williams, BDI's Chief Operating Officer.[1] Mr. Grimes's claims arise from the District's hiring of BDI to investigate Mr. Grimes after Mr. Grimes sought disability benefits. We affirm.

I.

In 1990, Mr. Grimes injured his back while working as a supervisory tax auditor for the District of Columbia Department of Finance and Revenue. Mr. Grimes filed a disability claim, which resulted in lengthy administrative proceedings. Mr. Grimes ultimately prevailed, and in 1998 the Employees Compensation Order Review Board awarded Mr. Grimes temporary total disability benefits.

The District's Officer of Risk Management terminated Mr. Grimes's disability benefits, based on evaluations conducted by independent medical examiners. Mr. Grimes challenged the termination of his benefits, and an ALJ entered a compensation order concluding that Mr. Grimes remained entitled to disability benefits.

The District refused to pay some of the benefits due to Mr. Grimes under the compensation order. In support of its refusal, the District relied upon a report from BDI, which the District had hired to investigate Mr. Grimes's employment history and income. According to Mr. Grimes, BDI's report falsely said that from 1998 to 2007, while he was receiving disability benefits, Mr. Grimes also operated " Grimes & Associates, CPAs," where he earned income as an accountant. Mr. Grimes also asserts that the BDI report falsely accused him of earning income from real-estate investments and pursuing a personal-injury claim on behalf of his deceased father. Finally, Mr. Grimes states that the District and BDI published the report and its false information to other individuals " in the hope of generating other negative information."

In 2010, Mr. Grimes filed a complaint in Superior Court alleging that the District and BDI had conspired to discredit Mr. Grimes and prevent him from receiving disability benefits. Specifically, Mr. Grimes alleged (1) violations of the Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act (" CMPA" ), D.C. Code § 1-601.01 et seq. (2012 Repl.); (2) conspiracy to violate his constitutional rights; (3) retaliation; (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress (" IIED" ); and (5) civil conspiracy. BDI moved to dismiss Mr. Grimes's complaint for failure to state a claim under Superior Court Rule of Civil Procedure 12 (b)(6). The District moved for judgment on the pleadings under Superior Court Rule of Civil Procedure 12 (c).

The trial court granted BDI's motion to dismiss and the District's motion for judgment on the pleadings. First, the court noted that Mr. Grimes had stipulated to a dismissal of the claim of conspiracy to violate his constitutional rights. Second, the court held that the CMPA foreclosed Mr. Grimes's remaining claims because Mr. Grimes had failed to plead administrative exhaustion.

Page 110

Third, the court found that Mr. Grimes had failed to state an IIED claim because Mr. Grimes had failed to plead facts showing " extreme and outrageous conduct" or " emotional distress." Fourth, the court concluded that Mr. Grimes had failed to state a claim for civil conspiracy because Mr. ...


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