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Gudger v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

November 10, 2014

VERONICA Y. GUDGER, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al, Defendants

Page 48

For VERONICA Y. GUDGER, Plaintiff: Kenneth E. McPherson, LEAD ATTORNEY, KENNETH E. MCPHERSON, CHTD., Riverdale, MD.

For DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, MICHAEL MILLSAPS, #8170, RUDY VICK, #2041, DUNCAN BEDLION, #7484, Defendants: Steven J. Anderson, OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR DC, Washington, DC.

Page 49

OPINION

ROSEMARY M. COLLYER, United States District Judge.

Veronica Gudger sues the District of Columbia and three officers of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Michael Millsaps, Rudy Vick and Duncan Bedlion, for allegedly violating her Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Ms. Gudger alleges that the officers entered her apartment without consent, refused to leave, physically assaulted her when she refused to consent to a search, and arrested her without cause. For these alleged constitutional violations, Ms. Gudger brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. She also alleges several state law claims.

Officers Vick, Bedlion and Millsaps are sued only in their individual capacities. Officers Vick and Bedlion move to dismiss the claims against them under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), on the grounds that the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.[1] See Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. 5]. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion to dismiss.

I. BACKGROUND FACTS

The following facts are taken from Ms. Gudger's Complaint and are accepted as true. See, e.g., Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). Early on August 21, 2013, Ms. Gudger responded to loud banging at her front door and found MPD Officer Michael Millsaps and " several unknown police officers at her door." Compl. [Dkt. 1] ¶ 9. Officer Millsaps entered Ms. Gudger's apartment over her objection and demanded to search the apartment for a third party who did not live there. Id. ¶ ¶ 10-12. Ms. Gudger denied permission for a search and requested to see a warrant. Id. ¶ 13. Suddenly, Officer Millsaps " grab[bed] the Plaintiff by her arm, struck the Plaintiff in the face, and threw her onto a nearby mattress" and " then pounced on the Plaintiff . . . shoved his knee into the Plaintiff's back" and handcuffed her. Id. ¶ ¶ 14-15. After " Defendant Millsaps and other officers" searched the apartment, " Defendant Millsaps caused the Plaintiff to be arrested and removed from her residence." Id. ¶ ¶ 16-17. While inside the police transport vehicle, " Defendant Bedlion asked the Plaintiff what had transpired in her residence and the Plaintiff told Defendant Bedlion" what had happened. Id. ¶ 18.

Page 50

Ms. Gudger was transported to the Fifth District station house and formally charged with assaulting Officer Millsaps. Id. ¶ 19. At the station house, Officer Vick " generated an Arrest Report to support formal criminal charges against the Plaintiff." Id. ¶ 20.

Subsequently, Ms. Gudger was transported to the central cell block where she was subjected to searches, including a rectal check, and was forced to urinate for a drug test. Id. ¶ ¶ 22, 24. Ms. Gudger remained in custody overnight, and was released the following day after being told the case against her was dismissed. Id. ¶ ¶ 24-26. Ms. Gudger was never brought before a judge. Id. ¶ 25.

Ms. Gudger initiated this suit in Superior Court, but the case was removed to this Court on April 7, 2014. The Complaint advances five counts. Count 1, against Officers Millsaps, Vick and Bedlion, and Count 2, against Officers Vick and Bedlion, assert claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged Fourth Amendment violations. Count 3 false arrest, Count 4 battery,[2] and Count 5 false imprisonment assert claims against all defendants. Ms. Gudger seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, court costs, pre-judgment interest and attorney's fees. Officers Vick and Bedlion moved to dismiss all claims asserted against them in the Complaint on May 15, 2014. The motion is ripe for decision.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the adequacy of a complaint on its face, testing whether a plaintiff has properly stated a claim. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a complaint contain " a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1). A complaint must be sufficient " to give a defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations omitted). Although a complaint does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief " requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. The facts alleged " must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. Rule 8(a) requires an actual showing and not just a blanket assertion of a right to relief. Id. at 555 n.3. " [A] complaint needs some information about the circumstances giving rise to the claims." Aktieselskabet AF 21 November 2001 v. Fame Jeans, Inc., 525 F.3d 8, 16 n.4, 381 U.S.App.D.C. 76 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (emphasis in original).

In deciding a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), a court may consider the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached to the complaint as exhibits or incorporated by reference, and matters about which the court may take judicial notice. Abhe & Svoboda, Inc. v. Chao, 508 F.3d 1052, 1059, 378 U.S.App.D.C. 355 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is " plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. When a plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the ...


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