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Smith v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

December 15, 2015

GREGORY SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants

Page 129

          For Gregory Smith, Plaintiff: Brendan James Klaproth, LEAD ATTORNEY, KLAPROTH LAW PLLC, Washington, DC USA; David Akulian, LEAD ATTORNEY, LAW OFFICE OF DAVID H. AKULIAN, Washington, DC USA.

         For District of Columbia, William J. Smith, WARDEN, Individually and in his official capacity, Defendants: Alicia Marie Cullen, Michael K. Addo, LEAD ATTORNEYS, OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL/DC, Washington, DC USA.

Page 130

         MEMORANDUM OPINION

         AMY BERMAN JACKSON, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Gregory Smith has brought this action against the District of Columbia, the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, Warden William J. Smith, and unknown employees of the Department of Corrections, alleging that defendants unlawfully detained plaintiff in the District of Columbia Jail from March 18, 2014 to April 10, 2014, after he had been ordered to be released. Compl. [Dkt. # 1-1]. He asserts Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as claims for false imprisonment and negligence. Compl. ¶ ¶ 27-43. Defendant Warden Smith has moved to dismiss the claims against him pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Def. William J. Smith's Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. # 19] (" Def.'s Mot." ).[1] Because the Court finds that plaintiff has failed to allege any facts that would support a plausible claim against the warden, individually or in his official capacity, the Court will grant the motion and dismiss defendant Smith from this case. The Court notes, though, that the District of Columbia is still a party to this matter, and plaintiff's claims against the District will proceed.

         BACKGROUND

         On March 15, 2014, plaintiff was arrested in the District of Columbia and held at the District of Columbia Jail. Compl. ¶ ¶ 6, 17-18. On March 18, 2014, a judge of the Superior Court ordered that plaintiff be released from custody. Id. ¶ 18. However, plaintiff was not freed until April 10, 2014, after a hearing in which the same Superior Court judge was compelled to order again that plaintiff be released. Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiff alleges that he repeatedly told the corrections officers at the jail that his release had been ordered by the Superior Court, and he demanded to be released, but these demands were ignored. Id. ¶ 20. One unidentified corrections officer allegedly told plaintiff, " [i]f you're here, they know you're here and you're supposed to be here." Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that he was imprisoned in a cell with " a dangerous prisoner who, upon information and belief, had been found guilty of possession of a loaded fire arm and possession of narcotics with an intent to distribute." Compl. ¶ 22. He also

Page 131

states that he was terminated from his job as a result of the overdetention. Id. ¶ 24. The charges against plaintiff were dismissed on September 8, 2014. Id. ¶ 23.

         Plaintiff initiated this action in Superior Court on November 14, 2014, and it was removed to this Court on February 2, 2015. Notice of Removal [Dkt. # 1] ¶ 1. Plaintiff brings three counts against all defendants: claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments (Count I); False Imprisonment (Count II), and Negligence (Count III). Compl. ¶ ¶ 27-43. On August 14, 2015, defendant Smith filed the pending motion to dismiss, Def's Mot.; Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. [Dkt. # 19] (" Def.'s Mem." ), and plaintiff opposed the motion on August 31, 2015. Pl.'s Mem. of Opposing P. & A. to Def.'s Mot. [Dkt. # 20] (" Pl.'s Opp." ). On October 2, 2015, with leave of Court, see Min. Order (Oct. 2, 2015), defendant Smith filed a reply in support of his motion. Def.'s Reply to Pl.'s Opp. [Dkt. # 22] (" Def.'s Reply" ).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         " To survive a [Rule 12(b)(6)] 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 A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). A claim is facially plausible when the pleaded factual content " allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id., citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. " The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id., quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. A pleading must offer more than " labels and conclusions" or a " formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action," id., quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, and " [t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id., citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint is construed liberally in the plaintiff's favor, and the Court should grant the plaintiff " the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged." Kowal v. MCI Communications Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276, 305 U.S.App.D.C. 60 (D.C. Cir. 1994). Nevertheless, the Court need not accept inferences drawn by the plaintiff if those inferences are unsupported by facts alleged in the complaint, nor must the Court accept plaintiff's legal conclusions. See id. ; see also Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242, 352 U.S.App.D.C. 4 (D.C. Cir. 2002). In ruling upon a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a court may ordinarily consider only " the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint, and matters about which the Court may take judicial notice." Gustave-Schmidt v. Chao, 226 F.Supp.2d 191, 196 (D.D.C. 2002), citing EEOC v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624-25, 326 U.S.App.D.C. 67 (D.C. Cir. 1997).

         ANALYSIS

         I. Plaintiff's official-capacity claims against defendant Smith are duplicative of his claims against the District of Columbia.

         Plaintiff sues defendant Smith in both his individual and official capacity. See Caption, Compl., at 1. Defendant Smith has moved to dismiss the official-capacity claims against him as duplicative ...


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