United States District Court, D. Columbia
CHRISTOPHER STEELE, Plaintiff, Pro se, Abingdon, MD.
FANNIE MAE, Defendant: Damien G. Stewart, FANNIE MAE,
S. CHUTKAN, United States District Judge.
the court are the parties' cross-motions for summary
judgment. Plaintiff Christopher Steele filed a motion for
partial summary judgment on his promissory estoppel claim.
Defendant Fannie Mae, formally known as the Federal National
Mortgage Association, filed a cross-motion for summary
judgment on all of Steele's claims--breach of contract,
promissory estoppel, fraudulent misrepresentation, and
intentional infliction of emotional distress. Because Steele
did not respond to Fannie Mae's arguments with respect to
breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional
distress, those claims are dismissed as
conceded. As to the remaining two claims, upon
consideration of the parties' motions, as well as the
responses thereto and the replies in support thereof, and for
the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is DENIED
and Defendant's motion is DENIED as to the promissory
estoppel claim and GRANTED as to the fraudulent
was hired for a position at Fannie Mae under the name
Christopher Ferguson. (Def.'s Statement of Undisputed
Facts ¶ 1). He chose the position with Fannie Mae over a
similar position with W.R. Grace. (Pl.'s Reply Mem. Supp.
Mot. Partial Summ. J. Ex. 14 ¶ 15). As part of the
application process, Plaintiff entered his name in Fannie
Mae's recruiting database as Christopher Ferguson.
(Gillingham Decl. ¶ 3(b)). Plaintiff's recruiter
later sent him instructions for his formal application,
including to " provide your full legal name including
your full middle name. (This name should be the same name
which will be on the documents you will be providing for I-9
verification such as the driver's license and/or social
security card)." ( Id. at ¶ 3(e))
(emphasis omitted). The recruiter also instructed Plaintiff
to provide all previous aliases. ( Id. ). After
Plaintiff indicated that his name was Christopher Ferguson
and that he had no middle name, his recruiter followed up to
confirm his legal name.
(Def.'s Cross-Mot. Ex. 6). In the written offer of
employment, Fannie Mae explained that Plaintiff would "
be required to complete an Employee Verification Form (I-9)
and provide current documents that establish your identity
and eligibility to work in the United States. This offer of
employment is contingent upon you providing those
documents." ( Id. at Ex. 8).
first day at Fannie Mae, May 6, 2013, Plaintiff notified
human resources during the I-9 employment eligibility process
that the name on his passport (Christopher Steele) did not
match the name on his driver's license (Christopher
Ferguson). (Gillingham Decl. ¶ 10). Because the person
Fannie Mae hired--Christopher Ferguson--could not prove his
identity, Fannie Mae was not able to verify his eligibility
for employment. ( Id. at ¶ 15). Per Fannie Mae
policy, Plaintiff had 72 hours from the time he started work
to prove his eligibility. (Def.'s Cross-Mot. Ex. 11). On
each of May 6, 7, and 8, Fannie Mae sent Plaintiff an e-mail
stating that if he could not prove his employment eligibility
within 72 hours of his first day of employment, he would be
terminated at the close of business on May 8. ( Id.
principal dispute in this case involves a meeting on May 8
between Plaintiff, his supervisor Farley Price, and Shandell
Harris, a representative from human resources. According to
Plaintiff, " during the meeting . . . Defendant promised
to place Plaintiff on administrative leave, perform a second
background investigation using the names Christopher Ferguson
and Christopher Steele, and allow Plaintiff to continue his
employment with Fannie Mae if the second background
investigation identified no new issues." (Pl.'s Mot.
at 4). Plaintiff followed up in the ensuing two days to check
on the status of the second background check. ( Id.
Mae, unsurprisingly, tells a different story. According to
Shandell Harris and Farley Price met with Plaintiff at or
around noon on May 8 and informed him of the Company's
decision to rescind the offer of employment because he had
not produced valid work authorization documentation. Ms.
Harris informed Plaintiff that Fannie Mae may reconsider its
decision if he could produce such documentation and provide
an explanation for why he failed to disclose his legal name
on the application or to the recruiter. Harris informed
Plaintiff that the Company would perform a background check
under his alleged legal name " Steele," which would
streamline things if the Company were to hire him
In that May 8, 2013 conversation, neither Ms. Harris nor Mr.
Price " promised" or otherwise indicated to
Plaintiff that he would be placed on administrative leave or
otherwise re-employed by Fannie Mae upon the completion of
the background check.
(Def.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶ ¶
21-22) (emphasis added) (citation omitted).
may have happened at the May 8 meeting, the parties agree
that on the morning of May 14, Fannie Mae received notice
that the second background check resulted in the same
information as the first. ( Id. at ¶ 28;
Pl.'s Mot. Attach. 5). That same day, Fannie Mae sent
Plaintiff a letter stating that a preliminary decision had
been made " to rescind your conditional offer of
employment and not employ you" based on the
discrepancies with his name. (Def.'s Cross-Mot. Ex. 16).
Fannie Mae requested that Plaintiff respond, and stated that
any information he provided " will be used in
consideration to reinstate your employment with Fannie
Mae." ( Id. ). On May 17, 2013, after not
receiving an adequate explanation for the difference in
Plaintiff's names, Fannie Mae
sent another letter to inform Plaintiff that it had "
made the decision to rescind your conditional offer of
employment and not employ you." (Pl.'s Mot. Attach.
originally brought this suit in D.C. Superior Court. (Notice
of Removal). After Fannie Mae removed the case to district
court, it filed a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to
Fannie Mae's dispute resolution policy. (Mot. to Compel).
Judge Lamberth denied the motion, finding that because Fannie
Mae did not treat Plaintiff as an employee, there was no
valid and enforceable agreement between the parties.
See Steele v. Fannie Mae, No. 13-01089,
2013 WL 5205898, at *2 (D.D.C. Sept. 13, 2013).
Motion for ...