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Artis v. District of Columbia

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

April 7, 2016

STEPHANIE C. ARTIS, Appellant,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Appellee.

Argued February 2, 2016

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CAB-5275-14) (Hon. Herbert B. Dixon, Jr., Trial Judge)

Donald M. Temple for appellant.

Donna M. Murasky, Senior Assistant Attorney General for the District of Columbia, with whom Karl A. Racine, Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General, and Loren L. AliKhan, Deputy Solicitor General, were on the brief, for appellee.

Before Fisher and Blackburne-Rigsby, Associate Judges, and Pryor, Senior Judge.

JUDGMENT

This case came to be heard on the transcript of record and the briefs filed, and was argued by counsel. On consideration whereof, and as set forth in the opinion filed this date, it is now hereby

ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the ruling of the trial court is affirmed.

OPINION

WILLIAM C. PRYOR, SENIOR JUDGE.

Appellant, Stephanie Artis, asks us to reverse the trial court's ruling on appellee's, the District of Columbia (the District), motion to dismiss because, she argues, it misinterpreted the word "tolling" in 28 U.S.C. § 1367 (d), and, as a consequence, erroneously limited her time to file her claim in Superior Court. Jurisdictions differ as to the meaning of "tolling" in 28 U.S.C. § 1367 (d), and we consider the term to be ambiguous. In light of that ambiguity, we conclude that the "grace period" approach, advocated by the appellee, is more consistent with statute's context and purpose. Therefore, we affirm the judgment dismissing appellant's complaint as untimely.

I. Statement of Facts

Appellant's complaint arose from her November 15, 2010 termination from the District's Department of Health (DOH). Beginning in August 2007, appellant was employed, in a temporary status, as a DOH code inspector. A contentious relationship evolved with her supervisor, Gerard Brown, and she concluded he had singled her out for unfair treatment in the workplace. On April 17, 2009, appellant took her first administrative step against Mr. Brown and DOH by filing a discrimination claim before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. While that claim was pending appellant also filed a series of grievances against Mr. Brown challenging several notices of proposed infractions against her and alleging that Brown violated other employee rights regulations.

On November 15, 2010, appellant discovered that DOH terminated her temporary employment as a code inspector. In January 2011, appellant filed a final grievance alleging her termination was retaliation for her strained relationship with the agency and Mr. Brown.

On December 16, 2011, appellant initiated a civil suit against the District in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Therein she alleged her termination violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964[1] and that the District Court had supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) (1990) to hear her claims based on the District's Whistleblower Act, [2] False Claims Act, [3] and her common law claim ...


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