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Robinson v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

August 2, 2016

EMMANUEL S. ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD J. LEON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant District of Columbia's Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 6], and plaintiffs Motion for Appointment of Counsel [ECF No. 8], Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 10], and Motion for an Injunction, a Permanent Injunction or a Preliminary Restraining Order, Until Final Judgment In This Matter [ECF No. 14]. For the reasons discussed below, the District's motion will be granted, and plaintiffs motions will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff allegedly sustained injuries to his right arm, neck, shoulder and lower back "while working on [a] project for [the District of Columbia's Department of] Parks and Recreation on June 29[J 2007." Compl. [ECF No. 1] ¶ 12. He and his supervisor filed incident reports. See Id. Plaintiff received some treatment at Kaiser Permanente in early July 2007, see Id. ¶¶ 12-13, for injuries to his "[r]ight arm (elbow) [and] nothing else, " id. ¶ 16. He claimed that he got no "relief [from the] pain[] in his arm, elbow, neck, shoulder and back." Id. ¶ 13.

         Plaintiff alleges that the District of Columbia "denied [him] prompt, proper and [a]dequate medical treatment.. . [f]or an extended period of time [o]ver six (6) years." Id.¶1; see Id. ¶¶ 13-16. He attributes these circumstances to a practice whereby the District's Office of Risk Management, the only "entity that the District of Columbia Government employee[] is [a]uthorized to communicate with after an accident... on the [j]ob, " id. ¶ 1, sends injured workers to certain doctors, and pursuant to "these special [d]octors['] orders, " the District would "take these worker[s] off work[ers'] compensation and .. . return [them] back to work, " id. ¶ 14. In this way, plaintiff states, the District has denied him proper medical care for job-related injuries solely for the purpose of saving money. See Id. ¶ 15.

         Plaintiff asserts a "right... to adequate and proper medical [t]reatment, which [he deems] a Constitutional [r]ight[] and a [c]ivil [r]ight [and] a statutory" right. Id. ¶ 16; see Id. ¶ 17. The statute on which he purportedly relies, "subchapter XXIII of the District D.C. Code, sec. 1-623 et seq. (2001 Ed.), " id. ¶ 5, pertains to the workers' compensation program for District government employees. After having "done his best in exhausting all of his administrative remedies that's [sic] available to him in this matter[, ] id. ¶ 1, plaintiff brings "this action . . . pursuant to 42 U.S.C. [§] 1983" alleging violations of rights protected "under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, " id. ¶ 2. He demands "a monetary Judgment... for his pain and suffering[, ]" id. ¶ 18, of "$60, 000, 000 . .. with interest and cost[s] . . ., and punitive damages in the amount of $25, 000, 000[, ]" id. ¶ 31.

         II. DISCUSSION

         The District of Columbia moves to dismiss plaintiffs complaint in its entirety under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the ground that it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See generally Mem. of P. & A. in Support of Def. District of Columbia's Mot. to Dismiss [ECF No. 6] ("Def.'s Mem.") at 3-6.

         A. Dismissal Under Rule 12(b)(6)

         A complaint is subject to dismissal if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A plaintiff need only provide a "short and plain statement of [his] claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief, " Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), that '"give[s] the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, '" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curium) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), "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 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). In other words, it must "plead factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Patton Boggs LLP v. Chevron Corp., 683 F.3d 397, 403 (D.C. Cir. 2012) (internal quotation omitted). Although a complaint filed by apro se plaintiff is "to be liberally construed, " Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (internal citation omitted), it, too, must set forth factual allegations that "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         B. Constitutional Claims Against the District of Columbia

         In relevant part, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

Id. Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights; rather, it is a method of vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Albright v. Oliver,510 U.S. 807, 811 (1994); Baker v. ...


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