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Egudu v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

October 29, 2014

IKE PASCAL EGUDU, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For IKE EGUDU, Plaintiff: Cary Johnson Hansel, III, Jarrod Stephen Sharp, LEAD ATTORNEYS, JOSEPH, GREENWALD & LAAKE, P.A.

For DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, OFFICER JOSE JIMENEZ, Individually and in his official capacity as a Police Officer, Defendants: Robert A. DeBerardinis, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Public Interest Division, Washington, DC.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION

AMY BERMAN JACKSON, United States District Judge.

In November 2012, plaintiff Ike Pascal Egudu filed the fifteen-count complaint in this case against the District of Columbia and defendant Jose Jimenez, a Metropolitan Police Department Officer.[1] On July 24, 2013, the Court granted in part and denied in part defendants' partial motion to dismiss, or for summary judgment, thereby significantly narrowing the case. Mem. Op. & Order at 24-25 (July 24, 2013) [Dkt. # 16]. The counts that remained were Counts One and Two to the extent that they were asserted against Officer Jimenez in his personal capacity, and Counts Four, Nine, Ten, and Eleven to the extent that they were asserted against the District. Id. at 25. Discovery ensued.

On April 7, 2014, defendants filed a motion for partial summary judgment, arguing that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff's excessive force claim in Count One and the entirety of Counts Four, Nine, Ten, and Eleven. Defs.' Mot. for Partial Summ. J. (" Defs.' Mot." ) [Dkt. # 26]; Defs.' Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. (" Defs.' Mem." ) [Dkt. # 26]; Supp. to Defs.' Mot. for Partial Summ. J. (" Defs.' Supp." ) [Dkt. # 29]. Plaintiff opposed that motion on the grounds that there are genuine issues of material fact that preclude summary judgment. Pl.'s Opp. to Defs.' Mot. (" Pl.'s Opp." ) [Dkt. # 30].

Because the Court finds that plaintiff did not present sufficient evidence to support municipal liability under Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978), it will grant defendants' motion for summary judgment on Count Four. The Court will also grant defendants' motion with respect to plaintiff's excessive force claim in Count One because, even accepting plaintiff's version of the facts as true, the alleged force was not so excessive that it meets the legal standard for a violation of plaintiff's constitutional rights. And finally, the Court will dismiss Counts Nine, Ten, and Eleven because it finds that the arrest report filed in connection with plaintiff's arrest did not satisfy the jurisdictional notice requirement of D.C. Code § 12-309.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual Background

For purposes of the motion for summary judgment, defendants filed a statement of material facts that adopts a skeletal version of the facts alleged in the complaint.[2] Defs.' Statement of Material Facts as to which there is No Genuine Issue (" Defs.' SOF" ) at 3 n.1 [Dkt. # 26]. Those facts are as follows:

o On the evening of November 14, 2009, plaintiff drove into the parking lot of a

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7-Eleven convenience store located in the District of Columbia. Defs.' SOF ¶ 1; Dep. of Ike Pascal Egudu (" Egudu Dep." ), Mar. 10, 2014, Ex. 1 to Defs.' Mot. 7:14-18, 8:8-10, 9:5-7 [Dkt. # 26-1]; see also Pl.'s Statement of Material Facts as to which there are Genuine Issues of Material Dispute (" Pl.'s SOF" ) ¶ 1 [Dkt. # 30].
o He wished to park in one of two spaces near the entrance of the store but could not because a Metropolitan Police Department (" MPD" ) cruiser was occupying both spaces. Defs.' SOF ¶ ¶ 1-2; Egudu Dep. 10:15-20.
o MPD Officer Jose Jimenez was seated inside the vehicle, so plaintiff gestured to the officer in an effort to get him to move the cruiser into one space, but Officer Jimenez did not respond. Defs.' SOF ¶ ¶ 2-3; Egudu Dep. 11:12-19, 12:17-21.
o Plaintiff then parked his vehicle in another spot and walked towards the convenience store. Defs.' SOF ¶ 3; Egudu Dep. 14:5-19.
o Before he entered the building, plaintiff stopped and spoke to Officer Jimenez about his unwillingness to move the police cruiser to free up one of the two spots. Defs.' SOF ¶ 3; Egudu Dep. 15:6-20.
o Plaintiff contends that once he got inside the convenience store, Officer Jimenez " spun him around and pulled him" or pushed him out of the building. Defs.' SOF ¶ ¶ 4-5; Egudu Dep. 23:5-14.
o Plaintiff alleges that Officer Jimenez then " slammed" him onto the hood of the police cruiser and began to " rough [plaintiff] up," which amounted to " pulling [him] and pushing [him] while [he] was on the top of the hood of the cruiser." Defs.' SOF ¶ 5; Egudu Dep. 24:17-22; see also Pl.'s SOF ¶ 5.
o Officer Jimenez then put handcuffs on plaintiff and placed him under arrest. Defs.' SOF ¶ 5; Egudu Dep. 25:1-5.

In response, plaintiff filed a statement of material facts as to which he believes there is a genuine dispute. See Pl.'s SOF. Although he identified several contested facts he believes to be pertinent to the Court's resolution of the motion, he did not object to any of the facts set forth in defendants' statement of material facts. See id. As a result, the Court will accept as undisputed the core facts as outlined in defendants' statement.

But the sparse statements of material facts from both parties provide little information about what occurred on the night in question, and the details filling in the gaps are disputed. Plaintiff contends that when he addressed Officer Jimenez prior to entering the 7-Eleven store, he was respectful and simply stated that being a police officer did not entitle Officer Jimenez to inconvenience other people. Egudu Dep. 15:12-16:18. But according to Officer Jimenez's version of events, plaintiff shouted expletives at him.[3] Dep. of Officer Jose Jimenez (" Jimenez Dep." ), Mar. 10, 2014, Ex. 2 to Pl.'s Opp. 16:21-17:1, 18:5-7 [Dkt. # 30-2] (" [Mr. Egudu] was screaming and going at it, you know, f***ing police, they think they can do whatever the f*** they want." ). Officer Jimenez alleges that plaintiff's loud and

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boisterous behavior continued once plaintiff entered the store, and that he asked plaintiff to leave several times. Id. 17:22-19:1; 21:3-22:17. Plaintiff objects to that characterization, stating that he did not yell while inside or outside the store, and that instead, it was Officer Jimenez and Officer Marshall who came up to him, grabbed his arm, and started yelling in his face: " [W]hat's your problem, do you have a problem." Egudu Dep. 18:15-19:2, 20:21-21:9. Plaintiff contends that in response, he held out his wrists to the officers and encouraged them to arrest him if he had done anything wrong, or to otherwise let him go. Id. 19:4-12. He alleges that the officers continued to yell at him, id. 20:16-21:1, so he placed his wrists behind his back and again told the officers to arrest him if he had done anything wrong. Id. 22:8-13; see also Jimenez Dep. 25:18-20 (stating that at one point, plaintiff " turned around, put his hands in his back and tried to walk -- and walked towards -- come on, come on, let's go" ).

Both parties agree for purposes of the motion that, shortly thereafter, Officer Jimenez pushed or pulled plaintiff outside the store, allegedly " slammed" plaintiff onto the hood of the cruiser, and began to " rough" plaintiff up. Defs.' SOF ¶ ¶ 4-5; Egudu Dep. 23:5-14, 24:17-22. Plaintiff claims that he did not say anything to the officers while he was being " roughed up." Egudu Dep. 25:6-8. Officer Jimenez then placed plaintiff under arrest. Defs.' SOF ¶ 5; Egudu Dep. 25:1-5.

II. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed the fifteen-count complaint in this case in November 2012. See Compl. [Dkt. # 1]. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss part of the complaint, or for summary judgment [Dkt. # 11], which the Court granted in part and denied in part. Mem. Op. & Order. The only remaining counts are Counts One and Two against Officer Jimenez and Counts Four, Nine, Ten, and Eleven against the District. Id. at 24-25.

After the close of discovery, defendants filed the motion for partial summary judgment that is now ripe for resolution. Defs.' Mot.; Defs.' Mem. They argue that the District is entitled to summary judgment on Count Four because plaintiff has failed to produce competent evidence that would support municipal liability under Monell, Defs.' Mem. at 8-12, and they also argue that the District is entitled to summary judgment on the common law negligence claims in Counts Nine, Ten, and Eleven because plaintiff failed to provide notice to the District of his claims for unliquidated damages within the time period set by D.C. Code § 12-309. Id. at 12-14. Finally, defendants move for summary judgment on plaintiff's excessive force claim in Count One on the grounds that any force employed by Officer Jimenez was reasonable in light of the circumstances. Id. at 15-19.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate " if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party seeking summary judgment " bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted). To defeat summary judgment, the non-moving party must " designate

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specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Id. at 324 (internal quotation marks omitted). The existence of a factual dispute is insufficient to preclude summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A dispute is " genuine" only if a reasonable fact-finder could find for the non-moving party; a fact is " material" only if it is capable of affecting the outcome of the litigation. Id. at 248; Laningham v. U.S. Navy, 813 F.2d 1236, 1241, 259 U.S.App.D.C. 115 (D.C. Cir. 1987). In assessing a party's motion, the court must " view the facts and draw reasonable inferences 'in the light most favorable to the party opposing the summary judgment motion.'" Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007) (alterations omitted), quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962) (per curiam).

ANALYSIS

I. The District is entitled to summary judgment on Count Four.

In Count Four of the complaint, plaintiff asserts that the District is liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the constitutional injuries he allegedly suffered as a result of Officer Jimenez's conduct on the night of plaintiff's arrest. Compl. ¶ ¶ 107-17. Defendants argue that they are entitled to summary judgment on that count because plaintiff did not ...


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