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Banneker Ventures LLC v. Graham

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 31, 2016

BANNEKER VENTURES, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
JIM GRAHAM, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

ROSEMARY M. COLLYER United States District Judge.

The critical events in this case occurred at a time when Jim Graham was both a Member of the District of Columbia Council and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Board of Directors. Banneker Ventures, LLC, a real estate developer, had an exclusive right to negotiate a development agreement for the improvement of property owned by WMATA. Banneker contends that Mr. Graham substantially interfered so that a final agreement was never reached and WMATA later sold the property to another developer. Banneker filed suit against Mr. Graham, in both his official and personal capacities, and the Office of the General Counsel for the D.C. City Council represented him. Subsequently, all claims against Mr. Graham in his official capacity were dismissed. The Office of General Counsel moves to withdraw, asserting that it has no duty to represent Mr. Graham in his personal capacity. Mr. Graham opposes. Having carefully considered all arguments, the Court will grant the motion.

I. FACTS

In 2007, WMATA began a bid process to improve real property it then owned along the 700 and 800 blocks of Florida Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. WMATA selected Banneker Ventures, LLC to develop the site and it gave Banneker the exclusive right, for a limited period of time, to negotiate a Joint Development Agreement. A final agreement was never reached, and in July 2011, WMATA sold the site to JBG Construction. Subsequently, Banneker filed this suit alleging, inter alia, that Mr. Graham unlawfully interfered with the negotiations by insisting that LaKritz Adler Development, LLC (LAD), a major contributor to Mr. Graham’s campaign and constituent services fund, become the selected developer for the site. Am. Compl. [Dkt. 18] ¶¶ 4-11, 26, 127. Banneker also alleges that “Graham offered his vote as a member of the D.C. Council to approve a lucrative D.C. lottery contract, in exchange for Banneker withdrawing” from the WMATA project. Id. ¶ 7.

Banneker sued Mr. Graham in his official and personal capacities as well as WMATA, Joshua Adler, Robb LaKritz, and LAD. The Amended Complaint alleged eight counts:

Count I-Breach of Contract (against WMATA);
Count II-Breach of Covenant of Fair Dealing (against WMATA);
Count III-Tortious Interference with a Prospective Economic Advantage (against Messrs. Graham, LaKritz, Adler, and LAD);
Count IV-Tortious Interference with Contract (against Messrs. Graham, LaKritz, Adler, and LAD);
Count V-Unjust Enrichment (against WMATA);
Count VI-Unlawful Restraint of Trade (against Messrs. Graham, LaKritz, and Adler);
Count VII-Fraud, Constructive Fraud, and Negligent Misrepresentation (against WMATA); and
Count VIII-Civil Conspiracy (against all ...

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