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Ward v. Vogel

United States District Court, District of Columbia

August 20, 2014

MILTON N. WARD III, Plaintiff,
v.
STEPHEN VOGEL, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Ellen Segal Huvelle United States District Judge

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, sues Stephen Vogel, a former officer of the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He claims that Vogel searched his automobile while investigating a traffic accident in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s proscription against unreasonable searches and seizures. (See Compl. [Dkt. # 4].)

A claim under § 1983 is properly brought against the individual wrongdoer in his personal capacity. See Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25 (1991) (“Personal-capacity suits . . . seek to impose individual liability upon a government officer for actions taken under color of state law.”); Brown v. Wilhelm, 819 F.Supp.2d 41, 43 (D.D.C. 2011) (§ 1983 claims “are cognizable against the individual in his or her personal capacity only”) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1948 (2009); Simpkins v. District of Columbia Gov't, 108 F.3d 366, 369 (D.C. Cir. 1997)). To render a judgment against a defendant in a § 1983 case, the Court must obtain personal jurisdiction. Hence, “[w]ithout valid service of summons or a waiver of service, the Court cannot establish proper venue and personal jurisdiction over the defendants, and the case may not proceed.” Pollard v. District of Columbia, 285 F.R.D. 125, 127 (D.D.C. 2012) (quoting Mann v. Castiel, 729 F.Supp.2d 191, 196 (D.D.C. 2010)).

The record shows that since January 6, 2014, the court officers have made efforts to serve Vogel with process at the addresses plaintiff has provided and at a last known address submitted in camera by MPD’s General Counsel. On August 8, 2014, the Court was notified that the Marshals Service has made four attempts to serve defendant at the last known address without success.[1] Hence, the Court has no choice but to dismiss this case without prejudice. A separate Order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.


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