United States District Court, D. Columbia
JOHN B. LESESNE, Plaintiff,
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant
JOHN B. LESESNE, Plaintiff: Moses Vincent Brown, LEAD
ATTORNEY, BROWN & BUTLER, PLLC, Washington, DC.
HENRY R. LESANSKY, Health Service Administrator, DISTRICT OF
COLUMBIA, Defendants: Joseph Alfonso Gonzalez, Steven J.
Anderson, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL/DC,
OPINION AND ORDER
R. COOPER, United States District Judge.
John Lesesne alleges that he suffered physical injuries and
emotional distress due to negligent treatment by the District
of Columbia Department of Corrections (" DOC" )
following his arrest and subsequent hospitalization for a
gunshot wound. Defendant District of Columbia moves for
summary judgment on the two of Lesesne's claims that
survived the District's previous motion to
dismiss--negligence and negligent infliction of emotional
distress. Because expert testimony is required to establish
each of these claims and Lesesne has not presented such
testimony, and because he has not made the required showing
for negligent infliction of emotional distress, the Court
will grant the District of Columbia's motion.
factual allegations and procedural background of this dispute
were summarized in the Court's opinion on Defendants'
motion to dismiss:
Lesesne was shot in the abdomen by his brother, a D.C. police
officer, who, according to a police report, Lesesne had
attacked with a knife. Defs.' Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to
Dismiss, Ex. 1 at 2. He was arrested and taken to a nearby
hospital where he underwent surgery. During his ensuing
hospital stay, Lesesne was in the custody of the District of
Columbia Department of Corrections [" DOC" ]. In
his amended complaint, Lesesne allege[d] that DOC personnel
continuously handcuffed him to his bed and ignored his
attending physicians' requests that he be allowed to
receive physical and occupational therapy, causing long-term
injury. Id. ¶ ¶ 15-18. Later, when the
hospital discharged him, DOC officers allegedly made Lesesne
walk to a transport vehicle while shackled and then dropped
him, causing a pulmonary embolism. Id. ¶ ¶
20-22. After a second trip to a hospital and a return to the
D.C. Jail, Lesense claims he contracted a staph infection
because DOC denied him adequate medical treatment.
Id. ¶ ¶ 26-28.
Lesesne brought suit in this Court against the DOC, the
District of Columbia and three individuals: an unnamed DOC
officer that oversaw his detention; Captain David Holmes, a
DOC employee; and Henry R. Lesansky, a DOC health services
administrator. His initial complaint listed sixteen claims,
including for violations of the Fourth, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendments, and intentional infliction of
emotional distress. Compl. ¶ ¶ 27-42. Judge
Wilkins, who was previously assigned to this case, granted
the District's motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust
administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform
Act, Pub. L. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321, and for failure to
state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional
distress. Order, Dkt. 32 (Sept. 30 2011). The D.C. Circuit
reversed as to Lesesne's federal claims. Mandate, Dkt. 35
(June 4, 2014). After remand, Lesesne filed an amended
complaint alleging a violation of the Eight Amendment's
prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983, negligence, and negligent infliction
of emotional distress. The Defendants move[d] to dismiss, or
alternatively for summary judgment, as to Lesesne's
constitutional claims against the District of Columbia and
Dr. Lesansky, and his claims for negligence and negligent
infliction of emotional distress against all Defendants.
Lesesne v. Doe, 65 F.Supp.3d 1, 3-4 (D.D.C. 2014).
The Court granted the Defendants' motion to dismiss as to
the " constitutional claims against the District of
Columbia, all claims against the DOC, all claims against
individual defendants in their official capacities, and all
claims against Dr. Lesansky in any capacity," id. at 8,
but denied the motion as to Lesesne's negligence and
negligent infliction of emotional distress (" NIED"
) claims against the District of Columbia.
District now moves for summary judgment on those two claims,
arguing that the claims fail because Lesesne has not
proffered expert testimony in support of his negligence claim
and because he has not established negligence or fear as
required for his NIED claim. Because expert testimony is
required to establish both claims and Lesesne has not
proffered such testimony, and because Lesesne has not
demonstrated that there was a special relationship between
him and the District of Columbia or that the zone of danger
rule applies with respect to his negligent infliction of
emotional distress claim, the Court will grant the District
of Columbia's motion for summary judgment.
Standard of Review
Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary
judgment is appropriate " if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202
(1986). At the summary judgment stage, the court draws all
justifiable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. But the
nonmoving party may not rely solely on allegations or
conclusory statements and instead must demonstrate facts that
would enable a reasonable jury to find in her favor.
Greene v. Dalton, 164 F.3d 671, 675, 334
U.S.App.D.C. 92 (D.C. Cir. 1999). " The moving party is
'entitled to a judgment as a matter of law' [where]
the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing
on an essential element of her case with respect to which she
has the burden of proof." Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d
265 (1986) (quoting Anderson, 477
U.S. at 250).