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Lamb v. Holder

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

March 10, 2015

TIMOTHY ALAN LAMB, Plaintiff,
v.
ERIC HOLDER, Defendant

For TIMOTHY ALAN LAMB, Plaintiff: Richard L. Swick, SWICK & SHAPIRO, P.C., Washington, DC.

For ERIC H. HOLDER, JR., Defendant: Marina Utgoff Braswell, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Civil Division, Washington, DC.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

TANYA S. CHUTKAN, United States District Judge.

When the FBI terminated Plaintiff Timothy Alan Lamb (" Lamb" ), it determined he had engaged in gross misconduct, rendering Lamb ineligible to elect to continue health insurance coverage. This lawsuit arises from that determination. Lamb's first cause of action seeks judicial review of the FBI's " gross misconduct" determination. His second cause of action asserts that he was deprived of the right to continued health insurance coverage without due process in violation of the Constitution. Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim for relief. For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants Defendant's motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Lamb was an FBI employee from October 1995 to August 2013. (Am. Compl. ¶ 6). On February 28, 2013 Lamb received a letter (the " Feb. 28 Letter" ) from the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility (" OPR" ) proposing to dismiss Lamb based on allegations of a lack of candor, not under oath. ( Id. ¶ 8; Def. Ex. A (filed under seal)). Separate from the matters raised in the Feb. 28 Letter, Lamb received notice on April 29, 2013 of another investigation into allegedly illegal conduct which took place at least 11 years earlier. (Am. Compl. ¶ 11; Def. Ex. F (filed under seal)). This separate investigation was initiated in light of statements Lamb made in a pre-polygraph interview in which he admitted to this conduct. (Def. Ex. F (filed under seal)). Plaintiff, through counsel, submitted a written response to the Feb. 28 Letter on May 6, 2013 and appeared at a videoconference oral hearing on the matter on May 8, 2013. (Am. Compl. ¶ 10; Def. Ex. B (filed under seal)). After an interview regarding the additional set of allegations, on June 6, 2013 Lamb signed a sworn statement concerning his 2002 and 2003 conduct. ( Id. ¶ 11; Def. Ex. G (filed under seal)). He also provided an 11-page self-prepared addendum to the sworn statement in which he addressed the allegations and made specific reference to the matters raised in the Feb. 28 Letter. (Def. Ex. G (filed under seal)). Lamb alleges he was " not allowed to present a defense to the new allegations" and " was not afforded an opportunity to respond to any proposed discipline based on the new allegations." (Am. Compl. ¶ 12).

OPR issued a letter to Lamb on August 14, 2013[1] (the " Aug. 14 Letter" ) dismissing Lamb from the FBI, based on both sets of allegations. (Am. Compl. ¶ 12; Def. Ex. C (filed under seal)). The Aug. 14 Letter stated the dismissal was a final decision and not appealable. ( Id.) The Aug. 14 Letter stated that Lamb had engaged in " gross misconduct," a finding which precluded Lamb from electing to receive continued health insurance coverage. ( Id. ¶ 13). Lamb had the opportunity to appeal the gross misconduct finding, an opportunity he took advantage of by submitting a 14-age appeal letter on August 30, 2013.[2] The FBI upheld the gross misconduct determination on September 17, 2013. ( Id.; Def. Ex. E (filed under seal)) Three months later, on December 13, 2013, Lamb filed this suit against Attorney General Eric Holder in his capacity as head of the Department of Justice.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

a. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. See Gen. Motors Corp. v. EPA, 363 F.3d 442, 448, 361 U.S.App.D.C. 6 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (" As a court of limited jurisdiction, we begin, and end, with an examination of our jurisdiction." ) The law presumes that " a cause lies outside [the Court's] limited jurisdiction" unless the plaintiff establishes otherwise. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994). When a defendant files a motion to dismiss a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992); Shekoyan v. Sibley Int'l Corp., 217 F.Supp.2d 59, 63 (D.D.C. 2002).

In evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), the Court must " assume the truth of all material factual allegations in the complaint and 'construe the complaint liberally, granting plaintiff the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged[.]'" Am. Nat'l Ins. Co. v. F.D.I.C., 642 F.3d 1137, 1139, 395 U.S.App.D.C. 316 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (quoting Thomas v. Principi, 394 F.3d 970, 972, 364 U.S.App.D.C. 326 (D.C. Cir. 2005)). Nevertheless, " 'the court need not accept factual inferences drawn by plaintiffs if those inferences are not supported by facts alleged in the complaint, nor must the Court accept plaintiff's legal conclusions.'" Disner v. United States, 888 F.Supp.2d 83, 87 (D.D.C. 2012) (quoting Speelman v. United States, 461 F.Supp.2d 71, 73 (D.D.C. 2006)).

Finally, when considering a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the court " is not limited to the allegations of the complaint." Hohri v. United States, 782 F.2d 227, 241, 251 U.S.App.D.C. 145 (D.C. Cir. 1986), vacated on other grounds, 482 U.S. 64, 107 S.Ct. 2246, 96 L.Ed.2d 51 (1987). Rather, " a court may consider such materials outside the pleadings as it deems appropriate to resolve the question [of] whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case." Scolaro v. D.C. Bd. of Elections & Ethics, 104 F.Supp.2d 18, 22 (D.D.C. 2000) (citing Herbert v. Nat'l Acad. of Scis., 974 F.2d 192, 197, 297 U.S.App.D.C. 406 (D.C. Cir. 1992)).

b. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242, 352 U.S.App.D.C. 4 (D.C. Cir. 2002). " To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). " The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. (citation omitted). Although a plaintiff may survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion even where " recovery is very remote and unlikely[,]" the facts alleged in the complaint " must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level[.]" Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Moreover, a pleading must offer more than " labels and conclusions" or a " formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action[.]" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). If the facts as alleged, which must be taken as true, fail to establish that a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Rule 12(b)(6) motion must be granted. See, e.g., Am. Chemistry Council, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 922 F.Supp.2d 56, 61 (D.D.C. 2013). In deciding a 12(b)(6) motion, a court may " consider only the facts alleged in the complaint, any documents either attached to or incorporated in the complaint and matters of which [the Court] may take judicial notice." E.E.O.C. v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 ...


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