United States District Court, D. Columbia.
November 24, 2014
DERIAN DOUGLAS HICKMAN, Plaintiff,
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS et al., Defendants
DERIAN DOUGLAS HICKMAN, Plaintiff, Pro se, Washington, DC.
For LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, Defendant: Kenneth A. Adebonojo, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.
For D.C. PUBLIC LIBRARY MLK, Defendant: Soriya R. Chhe, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL/DC, Washington, DC.
Beryl A. Howell, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
The plaintiff, Derian Douglas Hickman , filed a complaint in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia alleging that the United States Library of Congress has had him on a " no enter list" for " almost" two years and that the District of Columbia's Martin Luther King Public Library has him on such a list until December 2014. Compl., ECF No. 1-1, p. 2. The plaintiff demands judgment against the defendants in the amount of " $1,000,000." Id.
The Librarian of Congress removed the case to this Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § § 1442(a)(1) and 1446, and has moved to dismiss the complaint under Rule 12(b)(1), (b)(2), (b)(4), (b)(5), and (b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Fed. Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss at 1, ECF No. 12. The D.C. Public Library has moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). See District of Columbia Public Library's Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 4. The plaintiff's opposition to each motion fails to present a cogent counter-argument to the defendants' respective arguments for dismissal. See Pl.'s Opp'n to the D.C. Public Library's Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 11; Pl.'s Opp'n to the Federal Defendant's Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 14. In addition, the plaintiff recently filed a one-page document that is equally unilluminating. See ECF No. 16 (merely listing " 1. Motion for summary judgment, 2. Motion for a hearing on all motions in 14-492" ). For the following reasons, the Court will grant the defendants' motions, deny the plaintiff's two-part motion, and dismiss this case.
A. The Federal Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
The federal defendant characterizes the complaint as presenting common law tort claims for libel and slander and argues for dismissal on sovereign immunity grounds. See Mem. of P. & A. at 1, 5-7. Sovereign immunity bars lawsuits for money damages against the United States and its agencies absent a specific waiver by the federal government. Wilson v. Obama, 770 F.Supp.2d 188, 191 (D.D.C. 2011) (citing Clark v. Library of Congress, 750 F.2d 89, 102-04, 242 U.S.App.D.C. 241 (D.C. Cir. 1984)). Section 1346(b) of the United States Code " grants the federal district courts jurisdiction over a certain category of claims for which the United States has waived its sovereign immunity and rendered itself liable." FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 477, 114 S.Ct. 996, 127 L.Ed.2d 308 (1994) (citation, internal quotation marks, and alteration omitted).
The Federal Tort Claims Act (" FTCA" ), 28 U.S.C. § § 2671-80, provides a limited waiver of sovereign immunity where a plaintiff seeks monetary damages against a federal agency for certain common law torts committed by federal employees. Wilson, 770 F.Supp.2d at 191 (citing Roum v. Bush, 461 F.Supp.2d 40, 46 (D.D.C. 2006)). Although the Library of Congress " is a congressional agency," Keeffe v. Library, 777 F.2d 1573, 1574, 250 U.S.App.D.C. 117 (D. C. Cir. 1985) (citing 2 U.S.C. § 171(1)), the FTCA defines " federal agency" broadly to include " the judicial and legislative branches [and] independent establishments of the United States . . . ." 28 U.S.C. § 2671. " The FTCA explicitly excludes libel and slander from its coverage," Simpkins v. D.C. Gov't, 108 F.3d 366, 371, 323 U.S.App.D.C. 312 (D.C. Cir. 1997) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2680(h)), and the vaguely worded complaint reveals no other potential basis for liability against the United States.
Even if a plausible claim were found in the plaintiff's allegations, jurisdiction still is wanting because the plaintiff does not indicate that he exhausted his administrative remedies by " first present[ing] the claim to the appropriate Federal agency. . . ." 28 U.S.C. § 2675. Such exhaustion " is a requirement of the FTCA." Wilson, 770 F.Supp.2d at 191 (citation omitted). See Simpkins v. District of Columbia Gov't, 108 F.3d 366, 371, 323 U.S.App.D.C. 312 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (concluding that the " district court . . . lacked subject matter jurisdiction, or if not jurisdiction, the functional equivalent of it" over an unexhausted FTCA claim); Abdurrahman v. Engstrom, 168 F.App'x 445, 445 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (per curiam) (affirming the district court's dismissal of an unexhausted FTCA claim " for lack of subject matter jurisdiction" ). Hence, the federal defendant's motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) is granted.
B. The D.C. Public Library's Motion to Dismiss
The D.C. Public Library argues that " as a subordinate agency of the District of Columbia government," it cannot be sued in its own name. Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss at 3 (citing D.C. Code § 1-603.01(17) (defining subordinate agency as " any agency under the direct administrative control of the Mayor" ). Indeed, " [g]overnmental agencies of the District of Columbia are not suable entities, or non sui juris." Arnold v. Moore,
980 F.Supp. 28, 33 (D.D.C. 1997) (citing Roberson v. District of Columbia Bd. of Higher Ed., 359 A.2d 28, 31 n. 4 (D.C. 1976); Miller v. Spencer, 330 A.2d 250, 251 n. 1 (D.C. 1974)). Hence, the D.C. Public Library's motion to dismiss is granted.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court grants the motions of the federal defendant and the D.C. Public Library to dismiss the complaint and denies the plaintiff's conclusory motion for summary judgment and a hearing. A separate final Order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.
For the reasons stated in the accompanying Memorandum Opinion it is
ORDERED that the District of Columbia Public Library's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 4, is granted; and it is further
ORDERED that the Federal Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 12, is granted; and it is further
ORDERED that the plaintiff's two-part motion for summary judgment and for a hearing, ECF No. 16, is denied; and it is further
ORDERED that this case is dismissed.
This is a final appealable order.