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Beard v. Barnes

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

December 2, 2014

CHARLIE S. BEARD, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
KOBIE SEALS MICHAEL BARNES, Defendants

Decided: December 1, 2014.

For CHARLIE S. BEARD, Plaintiff: Bernard Cecil Coleman, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, LAW OFFICES OF BERNARD C. COLEMAN, JR, Oxon Hill, MD.

For KOBIE SEALS, MICHAEL BARNES, Defendants: Peter Rolf Maier, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Civil Division, Washington, DC.

Page 205

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Royce C. Lamberth, United States District Judge.

Before the court is defendant's Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 7] for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). Plaintiff alleges in his complaint that defendants made false and defamatory statements which caused plaintiff to suffer economic and emotional harm. For the reasons stated below, defendants' Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

Charlie S. Beard, Jr., plaintiff, Kobie Seals, defendant, and Michael Barnes, defendant, are employees of the Government Printing Office (" GPO" ). Compl. ¶ 5. Plaintiff was promoted to the position of sergeant and assigned to the midnight shift, in which he worked as defendants' direct supervisor. Id. at ¶ ¶ 6-7. Plaintiff had to reprimand defendant Seals for failing to be at his assigned post and because plaintiff suspected defendant Seals was sleeping in vacant offices while on duty. Id. at ¶ 7. On March 25, 2013, defendant Seals allegedly went to plaintiff's office and saw him sleeping at his computer. Id. at ¶ 8. Seals then spoke to defendant Barnes and asked him to witness that plaintiff was sleeping at his desk. Id. at ¶ 9. Seals sent a written communication to Lt. Gregory P. Bennett dated March 28, 2013. Id. at ¶ 10. This letter stated that Seals and Barnes allegedly saw plaintiff asleep at his desk, and that Seals had reported this to both Cpl. Gordon and Lt. Bennett. Id. In a second written report, defendant Barnes wrote an email to Lt. Bennett on March 27, 2013, explaining that he had acted as a witness for Seals to

Page 206

corroborate that the plaintiff was asleep at his desk. Id. at ¶ 11.

On May 24, 2013, plaintiff was demoted to the rank of police officer, which was accompanied by a salary decrease. Id. at ¶ ¶ 12, 14. Plaintiff filed this suit with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The United States Attorney's Office removed this case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § § 1442(a)(1) and 1446. This suit alleges that the statements made by defendants were false and defamatory, and that plaintiff has suffered " financially and emotionally" as a result of these statements. Id. at ¶ 13.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Because the plaintiff's claim sounds in tort, this Court addresses the complaint as attempting to state a claim pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (" FTCA" ). Defendants move to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Because the doctrine of sovereign immunity shields the federal government from suit absent waiver, F.D.I.C. v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475, 114 S.Ct. 996, 127 L.Ed.2d 308 (1994), and that doctrine is jurisdictional in nature, id., " the terms of [the government's] consent to be sued in any court define ...


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