United States District Court, D. Columbia.
RONALD M. SMITH, Plaintiff: Gregory L. Lattimer, LAW OFFICES
OF GREGORY L. LATTIMER, PLLC, Washington, DC.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, LAWRENCE O. ANYASO, COREY ROGERS,
Defendants: Marian L. Borum, LEAD ATTORNEY, William Mark
Nebeker, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.
BROWN JACKSON, United States District Judge.
Ronald Smith (" Plaintiff" or " Smith" )
was working as a driver for a federal government agency on
November 5, 2009, when he dropped off passengers near a
controlled barricade on the outskirts of the United States
Capitol complex. Smith encountered Defendant Corey Rogers, an
officer with the U.S. Capitol Police (" USCP" ),
and a confrontation ensued. When Rogers walked away from the
car that Smith was driving, Smith pulled off quickly, coming
close to Rogers as he went. Rogers immediately reported the
incident to headquarters by radio, prompting Defendant
Lawrence Anyaso, another USPC officer, to arrest Smith and
charge him with assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a
police officer. Although the United States Attorney's
Office subsequently dropped the criminal charges, Smith has
filed the instant action against the United States under the
Federal Tort Claims Act (" FTCA" ) asserting
various claims arising from his arrest. Specifically, Smith
brings claims for false arrest, malicious prosecution, and
intentional infliction of emotional distress, and a
Bivens claim against Rogers and Anyaso
in their individual capacities for violating Smith's
Fourth Amendment rights.
this Court at present is Defendants' motion to dismiss
or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. ( See
Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summ.
J. (" Defs.' Mot." ), ECF No. 14.) Defendants
base most of their arguments on a video recording of the
incident--which closed-circuit television captured--and audio
recordings of the radio communications between the officers,
both of which the Defendants have submitted for the
Court's review. In particular, Defendants maintain that
the recordings reveal that probable cause existed to arrest
and prosecute Smith, and therefore, that the false arrest and
malicious prosecution claims against the United States and
the Bivens claim against Rogers and Anyaso must be
dismissed. ( See Defs.' Mot. 10,
24-26.) Defendants also argue that Smith's
Bivens claim is barred by the applicable statute of
limitations ( see id. at 8), and that, in
any event, the individual officers are entitled to qualified
immunity for any such claim ( see id. at
10). Finally, Defendants contend that Smith has failed to
state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional
distress because the conduct alleged in the complaint does
not meet the high standard of " extreme and outrageous
conduct" that District of Columbia law requires. (
Id. at 26-27 (quoting Olaniyi v. District of
Columbia, 763 F.Supp.2d 70, 95 (D.D.C. 2011).)
31, 2015, this Court entered an order GRANTING
Defendants' motion and dismissing Smith's case. The
instant Memorandum Opinion sets forth the Court's reasons
for that order. In short, this Court agrees with Defendants
that the closed-circuit video footage of the incident
establishes that there was probable cause to arrest and
prosecute Smith--which means that Smith's false arrest,
malicious prosecution, and Bivens claims must be
dismissed--and that none of the allegations of wrongdoing in
Smith's complaint related to the type of outrageous
conduct that is required to state a claim for intentional
infliction of emotional distress.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
background facts alleged in Smith's complaint are largely
undisputed, and as mentioned, both the vehicle-related
incident and the officers' ensuing radio communications
November 5, 2009, Smith was dropping off passengers in the
area of Delaware and Constitution Avenues, NE, which is near
the U.S. Capitol complex, in his capacity as a driver for a
federal agency. (Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶ ¶ 6-7.) After
the passengers exited, Officer Rogers approached Smith's
vehicle and allegedly chastised Smith for stopping to drop
off passengers at that location. ( Id. ¶ 7.)
The two men proceeded to have a conversation that lasted for
about a minute, at which point Rogers turned away from the
car and began to walk back toward his post. ( Id.
¶ ¶ 7-8.) The video captured Smith looping around
and pulling away aggressively. (Video Footage: Cam. 1864 Ind.
& Del. (Nov. 5, 2011), Ex. 2 to Decl. of Cathy Y. Barnhardt
(" CCTV Video" ), ECF No. 14-1, at 14:50-14:57.)
Although the camera angle does not reveal the exact distance
between Rogers and Smith's car, it is clear that Smith
drove the car toward Rogers, and that the passenger side of
Smith's car was close to Rogers when the
car passed by. Rogers immediately reported over the police
radio that Smith had " intentionally almost struck"
him. (Audio Tape: U.S. Capitol Police Dispatch (Nov. 5,
2011), Ex. 2 to Decl. of Contricia A. Tyson, ECF No. 14-2, at
00:32-00:52; see also id. at 01:45-01:55 (Rogers
reporting that he had gotten out of the way of the
vehicle).) This report led other Capitol Police
officers to stop Smith's vehicle, and Rogers then
reiterated his accusation. (Compl. ¶ 9.) According to
the complaint, Rogers's statement was a " blatant
falsehood" that resulted in Smith's arrest at the
hands of Officer Anyaso. ( Id. )
the arrest, Anyaso wrote a report in which he stated that he
had viewed the footage related to the incident and that the
recorded episode " 'was consistent with what Rogers
has reported." ( Id. ¶ 10.) Smith contends
that Anyaso's statement, too, was false, insofar as the
video footage instead " clearly and unequivocally"
reveals that Smith did not " attempt to hit defendant
Rogers [or] come close to striking the left leg of defendant
Rogers with his vehicle as alleged." ( Id.
¶ 11.) Based on the representations by Rogers and
Anyaso, Smith was held in jail overnight and charged with
assault on a police officer and assault with a deadly weapon.
( Id. ¶ ¶ 9, 13.)
the government later dropped the criminal charges that had
been brought against Smith ( id. ¶ 13), Smith
filed a claim for damages with the USCP on November 4, 2011 (
id. ¶ 14). The USCP denied Smith's claim on
April 16, 2012, and on October 11, 2012, Smith brought the
instant action in federal court. Smith's complaint
asserts three common law claims against the United States
under the FTCA: false arrest ( id. ¶ ¶
15-17), intentional infliction of emotional distress (
id. ¶ ¶ 18-20), and malicious prosecution
( id. ¶ ¶ 21-24). The complaint also
brings a Bivens claim against Officers Rogers and
Anyaso, alleging that these officers violated Smith's
Fourth Amendment rights in connection with his arrest and
subsequent prosecution. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 25-28.)
September 9, 2013, Defendants filed the motion to dismiss the
complaint, or in the alternative, motion for summary
judgment, that is the subject of this Memorandum Opinion.
Defendants motion asserts that Smith's false arrest and
malicious prosecution claims against the United States fail
because probable cause existed to arrest and prosecute Smith.
( See Defs.' Mot. 10, 24.) Defendants further
argue that the existence of probable cause, the statute of
limitations, and the doctrine of qualified immunity likewise
doom Smith's Bivens claim against Rogers and
Anyaso. ( Id. at 8, 10, 24). Finally, Defendants
contend that Smith's claim for intentional infliction of
emotional distress fails because the predicate conduct does
not rise to the level of " extreme and outrageous
conduct" necessary to state such a claim under District
of Columbia law. ( Id. at 26-27.)
Legal Standard For A Rule 12(b)(6) Motion To Dismiss
A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of a
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)
(quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)).
Plausibility " is not akin to a probability requirement,
but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
The plausibility standard is satisfied " when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citation
omitted). " [W]hile 'detailed factual
allegations' are not necessary, the plaintiff 'must
provide more than an unadorned,
Schmidt v. U.S. Capitol Police Bd., 826 F.Supp.2d
59, 65 (D.D.C. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
deciding whether to dismiss a complaint for failure to state
a claim, the court " must treat the complaint's
factual allegations--including mixed questions of law and
fact--as true and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in
the plaintiff's favor." Epps v. U.S. Capitol
Police Bd., 719 F.Supp.2d 7, 13 (D.D.C. 2010) (citing
Holy Land Found. for Relief & Dev. v. Ashcroft, 333
F.3d 156, 165, 357 U.S. App.D.C. 35 (D.C. Cir. 2003)).
However, the court need not accept as true inferences
unsupported by the facts set out in the complaint or legal
conclusions cast as factual allegations. Browning,
292 F.3d at 242.
Legal Standard For A Motion For Summary ...