United States District Court, D. Columbia
Parham, Plaintiff, Pro se, Washington, DC USA.
Properties, Inc., Dupont Park Joint Venture, Defendants:
Margaret Fonshell Ward, LEAD ATTORNEY, WARD & HERZOG, LLC,
J. LEON, J.
Evelyn Parham (" plaintiff ') brings this suit
against CIH Properties, Inc. and Dupont Park Apartments Joint
Venture (together " defendants" ), seeking damages
based on allegations that her car was towed and never
returned to her in violation of various federal and local
laws. See generally Compl. [Dkt. # 1-1]. Before this
Court is defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt.
#23] (" Defs.' Mot." ). Upon consideration of
the parties' pleadings, relevant law, and the entire
record in this case, defendants' motion is GRANTED.
over thirty years, plaintiff has resided with her mother in
an apartment at Banneker Place, an apartment complex owned
and operated by defendants. Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.'
Mot. for Summ. J. 1, 15 [Dkt. #24] (" Pl.'s
Opp'n" ); Defs.' Mot. 1. This case arises out of
an incident on or before September 30, 2011 when
plaintiff's car, a 1987 Mercedes bearing a D.C. handicap
tag, was towed from the apartment complex parking lot.
Pl.'s Opp'n ¶ ¶ 3, 5.
plaintiff discovered that her car had been towed, she
inquired with the rental office as to its location and was
informed by Paula Jones, an employee of defendants, that the
car had been removed by the D.C. Metropolitan Police
Department (" MPD" ). Pl.'s Opp'n ¶ 6.
After receiving this information, plaintiff went to the
police station to locate her car, but police records showed
that MPD had not, in fact, taken possession of her car.
Pl.'s Opp'n ¶ 7. Returning to the rental office,
plaintiff learned from a different staff member, Carolyn
Gill, what had actually transpired-the rental office had
called a towing company to remove several cars from the
apartment complex parking lot. Pl.'s Opp'n ¶ 8.
Indeed, on September 29, 2011, Ms. Gill authorized a company
called " Big Es Towing" to tow cars that had been
ticketed for " dead tags" six days prior and to
take them to the junkyard " to be crushed for scrap
metal." See Defs.' Mot. Ex. 2 [Dkt. #23-2].
Citing a " dead tag" ticket issued for a Mercedes
on September 23, 2011, defendants believe that one of the
cars towed by Big Es Towing may have been plaintiff's
car. Defs.' Mot. 2 & Ex. 1 [Dkt. #23-1]. Plaintiff,
however, contends that her tags were up-to-date and that the
tag number recorded on the ticket is inconsistent with the
paper tag on her car at the time. Pl.'s Opp'n ¶
16. Although the rental office staff provided plaintiff with
the name and telephone number of the man who they believe
towed her car, plaintiff has been unable to reach anyone at
that number and does not know the location of the junkyard.
Pl.'s Opp'n ¶ 10. Not surprisingly,
plaintiff's car was never returned to her. Pl.'s
Opp'n ¶ 11.
over three years after these events unfolded, plaintiff
brought this action in the Superior Court for the District of
Columbia seeking to recover the value of her car, treble
damages pursuant to the D.C Consumer Protection Act, and
punitive damages. See Compl. at 5. Defendants
removed the action to this Court, Notice of Removal [Dkt.
#1], and now move for summary judgment, see
judgment is appropriate when the pleadings and the record
demonstrate 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). The moving party has
the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact to be decided with respect to any
essential element of the nonmovant's claim. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91
L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Once the moving party has met its burden,
the nonmovant must set forth specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial. See id.
at 323-24. In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the
Court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the
nonmovant, giving it the benefit of all justifiable
inferences derived from the evidence in the record.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255,
106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The nonmovant's
opposition, however, may not rest upon the mere allegations
or denials of the pleadings, but must be supported by
affidavits or other competent evidence. Celotex, 477
U.S. at 324. Thus, by pointing to the absence of evidence
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential
to the nonmovant's case, a moving party may succeed on
summary judgment. Id. at 325.
move for summary judgment arguing that the record does not
contain evidence sufficient to establish the essential
elements of plaintiff's claims. See generally
Defs.' Mot. I agree.
Breach of Contract
first cause of action is for breach of contract. See
Compl. ¶ ¶ 24-25. She supports her claim, however,
not with affidavits or competent evidence, but mere
allegations that because she was a life-long tenant of
Banneker Place, defendants " breached the contract"
when they towed her car " out of [the] private parking
lot without justifiable reason." Pl.'s Opp'n
¶ 15. Such arguments are too slender a reed upon which
to base a property claim of this genre. As defendants point
out, plaintiff has utterly failed to provide any competent
evidence that a contract existed between defendants and
herself. See Defs.' Mot. 2. Indeed, the only
potentially relevant contract now before this Court is a 1972
lease agreement signed by Mr. Franklin E. Parham, which
explicitly states that parking is not covered by the
agreement: " Lesee agrees that parking accommodations
are not included in the rental, nor are parking
accommodations to be ...