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Simon v. United States Department of Justice

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 3, 2016

CHARLES SIMON, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, et al. Defendants. Re Document Nos. 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 11, 13, 17

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Denying Plaintiff’s Motion for Disqualification; Granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss; Denying as Moot Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Notice of Default, Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, Motion to Expedite Issuance of the Preliminary Injunction, Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions, and Motion Demanding Immediate Action.

I. INTRODUCTION

Pro se Plaintiff Charles Simon has filed a complaint against the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”), United States Court of Appeals fo r the District of Columbia (“Court of Appeals”), Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (“FPI”), and Steve Schwalb, [1] an individual formerly employed by FPI. Mr. Simon attempts to re-litigate the compensation award he received pursuant to the Inmate Accident Compensation Act, 18 U.S.C. § 4126 et seq., for a back injury he sustained while incarcerated in 1987. See Compl. at 1-6, ECF No. 1. In 1998, the D.C. Circuit affirmed a district court’s denial of Mr. Simon’s petition for a writ of mandamus, holding that his “award of compensation was properly calculated under the Inmate Accident Compensation Act and its implementing regulations, ” that there was “no merit to [his] challenge to the validity of the inmate compensation system, ” and that he “ha[d] not shown that he is entitled to medical treatment after his release.” Simon v. Fed. Prison Indus., Inc., 159 F.3d 637 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (unpublished table decision). In recent years, Mr. Simon has continued to file similar actions in this district against FPI, Schwalb, and various other defendants. Those actions have been dismissed as barred by the doctrines of claim preclusion and collateral estoppel. See Simon v. Bickell, 737 F.Supp.2d 10, 14-15 (D.D.C. 2010); Simon v. Fed. Prison Indus., Inc., No. 09-0692, 2009 WL 2618349, at *1 (D.D.C. Aug. 24, 2009). Additionally, Mr. Simon has filed similar cases against FPI and other agencies or instrumentalities of the United States around the country. See, e.g., Simon v. Fed. Prison Indus., Inc., No. 03-10792-JLT, 2003 WL 26128191, at *1 (D. Mass. Jul. 15, 2003); see also Simon v. Robinson, 196 F. App’x 54, 55 n.1 (3d Cir. 2006) (noting that Mr. Simon has “filed suit and lost in the United States District Courts for the District of Wisconsin, the District of Massachusetts, the Southern District of New York, the District of Columbia, and the District of New Jersey”). Mr. Simon has again filed meritless pleadings in this Court in his ongoing campaign against Defendants concerning the same compensation for an inmate work injury.

Defendants have moved to dismiss Mr. Simon’s latest suit. As an initial matter, the Court denies Plaintiff’s meritless motion for disqualification. The Court further concludes that claim preclusion bars Mr. Simon’s claims against FPI and its former employee Mr. Schwalb, while the doctrine of collateral estoppel bars his claims against DOJ and the Court of Appeals. In the alternative, the Court finds that the time period in which Mr. Simon could have litigated the compensation amount he received for his back injury has far lapsed and that his claims are, thus, time-barred. Accordingly, the Court grants Defendants’ motion to dismiss and denies Mr. Simon’s other pending motions as moot.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Mr. Simon commenced this action in August 2015, challenging the monetary award he received as a result of a back injury he suffered while incarcerated more than two decades ago. See Compl. at 1-6. In 1994, as compensation for this inmate work injury, Mr. Simon was awarded $73.57 per month, an amount to be adjusted in line with increases in the federal minimum wage. See Defs.’ Mot. to Dismiss & Opp’n to Pls.’ Mot. for Prelim. Inj. (“Defs.’ Mot.”) Ex. 2 at 12, 13, 17, 18, ECF No. 4-1.[2] Following an administrative appeal to Mr. Schwalb, at that time FIP’s Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Simon acknowledged and accepted the award as a “full and final settlement.” Id. at 15-17.

In the present suit, although Mr. Simon’s complaint is hard to follow, it appears that Mr. Simon once again claims that the settlement award he received was insufficient and unfair. See generally Compl. Mr. Simon bases this claim on purported violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, and the Constitution. See Compl. at 1-2. Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint on two grounds. First, Defendants argue that Mr. Simon’s claim is barred by the related doctrines of claim preclusion and collateral estoppel. See Defs.’ Mot. at 3-5. Second, Defendants argue that Mr. Simon’s claims are time-barred. See Id. at 5-6. For his part, Mr. Simon has filed a variety of others motions, including one requesting that the undersigned disqualify himself. See Pl.’s Mot for Disqualification, ECF No. 17.

Because Mr. Simon has failed to raise any issue requiring disqualification or making such disqualification advisable, the Court denies that motion. In addition, because the Court agrees that Plaintiff’s claims are barred by the related doctrines of claim preclusion and collateral estoppel, and are also time-barred, the Court will dismiss Mr. Simon’s complaint in its entirety. Consequently, the Court denies as moot Mr. Simon’s various other motions.

III. MOTION FOR DISQUALIFICATION

As best the Court can discern, Mr. Simon’s basis for requesting disqualification appears to be his dissatisfaction with this Court’s denial of his motion for a pretrial settlement conference, see Dec. 15, 2015 Order, ECF No. 16, and his claims that there has been “undue delay . . . attend[ing] these proceeding[s]” and that the Court has exhibited “deep-seated [b]ias” and “favoritism” toward the Defendants, Pl.’s Mot for Disqualification at 1-2. These arguments are frivolous. First, “judicial rulings” like the Court’s denial of Mr. Simon’s motion for a pretrial settlement conference “alone almost never constitute a valid basis for a bias or partiality motion.” Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 555 (1994) (noting that judicial rulings “can only in the rarest circumstances evidence the degree of favoritism or antagonism required”). Second, beyond his dissatisfaction with the pace of litigation, Mr. Simon fails to articulate any intelligible basis for his belief that this Court has shown bias or favoritism. That five months have elapsed since Mr. Simon filed his complaint does not demonstrate that the undersigned “has a personal bias or prejudice either against [Mr. Simon] or in favor of any adverse party” requiring recusal. 28 U.S.C. § 144. In addition, to succeed on a motion for disqualification, a party is required to file “a timely and sufficient affidavit” that “state[s] the facts and the reasons for the belief that bias or prejudice exists.” Id. Here, Mr. Simon has not filed an affidavit accompanying his motion. See Potter v. Toei Animation Inc., 839 F.Supp.2d 49, 57 (D.D.C. 2012) (dismissing a pro se litigant’s motion for disqualification because the litigant failed to file an affidavit). Accordingly, Mr. Simon’s motion for disqualification is denied.

IV. MOTION TO DISMISS

A. Standard of Review

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim” in order to give the defendant fair notice of the claim and the grounds upon which it rests. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); accord Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) does not test a plaintiff’s ultimate likelihood of success on the merits; rather, it tests whether a plaintiff has properly stated a claim. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), abrogated on other grounds by Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982); Brewer v. District of Columbia, 891 F.Supp.2d 126, 130 (D.D.C. 2012). A court considering such a motion presumes that the complaint’s factual allegations are true and construes them liberally in the plaintiff’s favor. See, e.g., United States v. Philip Morris, Inc., 116 F.Supp.2d 131, 135 ...


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