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Lyles v. Hughes

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

March 19, 2015

PAMELA LYLES, Plaintiff,
v.
M. HUGHES, et al., Defendants

PAMELA LYLES, Plaintiff, Pro se, Washington, DC.

MEMORANDUM OPINION [Dkt. #15]

RICHARD J. LEON, United States District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. #15]. For the reasons discussed below, the motion will be GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

This action arises from plaintiff's eviction from her former residence in the Park Ainger Apartments in Southeast Washington, DC. It appears that plaintiff's former landlord initiated proceedings in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Civil Division, Landlord and Tenant Branch, in 2011. See Amended Complaint (" Am. Compl." ) ¶ 6 [Dkt. #9], Plaintiff states that her former landlord falsely represented to the court that she " was delinquent in her rental payments," Am. Compl. ¶ 6, in order to force her to vacate the premises and make way for a new tenant that could be charged higher rent, see id. ¶ 7.

The landlord took steps to evict plaintiff on three occasions. A first attempt on March 19, 2012 was cancelled apparently because there was no address on the door of plaintiff's apartment. See Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. (" Pl.'s Opp'n" ) Ex. A (Writ of Restitution dated March 19, 2012) [Dkt. #17]. A second attempt occurred " on or about March 26, 2012, [when] Defendant U.S. Marshal Hughes and the landlord jointly attempted to illegally evict" plaintiff, " even though they both knew or should have known that there was not [W]rit of Possession or eviction order in effect at that time." See Am. Compl. ¶ 8. However, " the landlord received a new eviction order of possession on April 13, 2012." Am. Compl. ¶ 9.

" In the early morning of April 20, 2012, two armed U.S. Marshals and the landlord entered the Plaintiff's apartment and informed her that she was being evicted on the spot." Am. Compl. ¶ 10. Plaintiff claimed " that she had never received notice of a default judgment and informed [the Marshals] that . . . she was an attorney . . . who would never fail to respond to a notice of an eviction hearing." Am. Compl. ¶ 12. Nevertheless, defendants allegedly " move[d] toward the plaintiff in a threatening manner when the [p]laintiff demanded to see . . . evidence that she had received notice of an eviction." Am. Compl. ¶ 13. They refused plaintiff's offer to pay the amount the landlord claimed was due, Am. Compl. ¶ 16, refused her request " to . . . postpone the eviction so that she could get to the courthouse to nullify the default order," id. ¶ 18, and refused her request for " time to arrange for someone [to] move her possessions out," id. ¶ 19. Further, because plaintiff " was moving too slowly," Am. Compl. ¶ 22, defendants allegedly " grabbed both [of plaintiff's] arms and dragged her through the apartment and pushed her out of the door," id. ¶ 22. They allegedly " pushed [plaintiff] so hard that she landed on the floor [in front] of the door of the apartment across the hallway." Am. Compl. ¶ 22. When plaintiff attempted to " go back into [her] apartment to get her purse, phone, and money, [they] stopped her by handcuffing her arms behind her back," Am. Compl. ¶ 23, knocked her to the floor, forced her to lie face down on the floor, and shackled her feet, id. ¶ 24. " Plaintiff struggled while lying on the floor, . . . cried out in pain and screamed to the witnesses" who were observing the events, and was " kicked . . . on the right part of her forehead causing blood to flow" by one of the defendants after he " told her to shut up and . . . she did not." Am. Compl. ¶ 25.

According to plaintiff, " [t]he Marshals carried only a few items outside and fled as soon [as] the landlord had the locks changed," Am. Compl. ¶ 26, leaving " nearly all of [plaintiff's] possessions including the safe which they knew contained money and jewelry in the hands of the landlord who slammed the door shut and told the Plaintiff to get out," id. ¶ 27. According to plaintiff, she " was so distraught that she suffered a gran mal seizure on the spot and was rushed to the emergency room [of a hospital] by her neighbors and was subsequently hospitalized." Am. Compl. ¶ 28. She since has been unable to retrieve her personal belongings from her former landlord, who allegedly " has refused to release her property or even talk to her." Am. Compl. ¶ 31.

The United States Marshals Service (" USMS" ), Michael Hughes, the United States Marshal for the District of Columbia Superior Court, and Jeremy Alford, a Deputy U.S. Marshal, effected her eviction on April 20, 2012. Am. Compl. ¶ 2; see Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss, (" Defs.' Mem." ), Ex. A (Certification Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2679 by Daniel F. Van Horn, Chief of the Civil Division, Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia) [Dkt. #15-2]. She brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of rights protected under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. See generally Am. Compl. In addition, plaintiff brings a host of tort claims, including claims for conversion, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false arrest, false imprisonment, abuse of process, negligence, civil conspiracy, assault, and battery. Am. Compl. at 8-14. She demands compensatory and punitive damages. Am. Compl. at 15.

STANDARDS OF REVIEW

Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Rule 12(b)(1) permits a party to assert by motion the defense of lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and Rule 12(b)(6) permits the defendant assert by motion a defense that plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

I. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)

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 a 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). In evaluating a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 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. FDIC, 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 plaintiffs 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)). In making ...


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