United States District Court, District of Columbia
matter is before the Court on its initial review of the
plaintiff s pro se complaint and application for
leave to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP). Under the
statute governing in forma pauperis proceedings, the
Court is required to dismiss a case "at any time"
it determines that the action, among other grounds, fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C.
plaintiff resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has sued four
defendants based in the District of Columbia, including
Holland & Knight, LLP and the D.C. Bar, for $45 million.
The complaint arises from an alleged breach of a contract
that the plaintiff allegedly formed in 2005 with defendants
Thomas Hart and On The Potomac Productions or On The Potomac,
diversity action, such as here, "this court must look to
local law for the applicable statute of limitations."
Kuwait Airways Corp. v. Am. Sec. Bank, N.A., 890
F.2d 456, 460 (D.C. Cir. 1989). Showing his awareness of the
District's three-year statute of limitations for such
claims, see D.C. Code § 12-301(7), the
plaintiff "argues that the statute of limitations should
be equitably tolled because of the fact that [he] did not
previously know that he could bring forth this cause of
action as a pro se plaintiff appearing in forma
pauperis." Compl. ¶ 4. The plaintiff does not state
when he made that discovery, but the federal statutes
permitting pro se, in forma pauperis actions have
been in place since 1948. The plaintiffs excuse is further
undermined by the fact that since accrual of the instant
claims, he has appeared pro se in at least
"eight cases in the District of Nevada since September
2014, " Emrit v. Soc. Sec. Admin., No.
2:14-CV-01760-GMN, 2015 WL 4597834, at *6 (D. Nev. July 29,
2015), and in one other civil action in this Court that
included tort claims, Emrit v. NIH, 157 F.Supp.3d 52
(D.D.C. 2016). Most, if not all, of the plaintiffs cases were
permitted to proceed under the in forma pauperis
statute. In addition, the District of Nevada found from
"an online search of PACER" that since 2013, the
plaintiff "has filed 73 cases in federal district courts
and 49 appeals in federal circuit courts nationwide."
Emrit, 2015 WL 4597834, at *7. In an order not
binding here, the District of Nevada has declared the
plaintiff a "vexatious litigant" and has placed
restrictions on his ability to file a "complaint,
petition, or other document in this court without first
obtaining leave of this court." Id. at *2.
applicable here, "a claim accrues from the point that
'a plaintiff has knowledge of the facts that constitute
the cause of action, not when he attains knowledge of the
legal significance of those facts.' " Silvious
v. Snapple Beverage Corp., 793 F.Supp.2d 414, 418
(D.D.C. 2011) (quoting Fleck v. Cablevision VII,
Inc., 799 F.Supp. 187, 190 (D.D.C. 1992)). The instant
claims arose from Hart's alleged breach of the contract.
Nevertheless, as discussed next, the plaintiff has advanced
different theories against each defendant, none of which
survives the statute of limitations (or could survive a
Defendant Hart d/b/a On The Potomac, Inc.
difficult to pinpoint when the alleged breach occurred, if it
occurred at all. The plaintiff alleges, for example, that
"in the latter part of 2005, " he paid defendant
Hart, doing business as On The Potomac, Inc., approximately
$1, 500 to be introduced "to the hip hop artist. . . LL
Cool J aka James Todd Smith." Compl. ¶ 17. He also
alleges that the contract "was supposed to provide the
plaintiff with 'artist development.'"
Id. ¶ 19. The plaintiff admits that Hart
"did provide some sort of 'artist development'
for the plaintiff in the sense that [he] introduced the
plaintiff to the producer . . . of Street Star Studios in
Haymarket, VA." Id. ¶ 23. That producer,
in turn, "produced and engineered" a reggae song
"for the plaintiff." Id. ¶ 37. In
addition, Hart allegedly "helped the plaintiff recover
[a] retainer" paid to another firm that the plaintiff
was able to use "to attend the Grammy Awards in
February, 2006 with his then-publicist[.]" Id.
Defendant Holland & Knight
plaintiff has sued Holland & Knight because Hart
allegedly worked at the law firm as a telecommunications
lawyer at the relevant time period. See Compl.
¶ 20. The plaintiff seeks to hold the law firm
"vicariously liable for [Hart's alleged]
misfeasance, nonfeasance, and malfeasance[.]" Compl.
¶ 21. But the plaintiff admits that he "officially
signed a contract with [Hart's company, ] On The Potomac,
Inc, " id., thereby foreclosing a basis of
liability with respect to the firm. See Jia Di Feng v.
See-Lee Lim, 786 F.Supp.2d 96, 105 (D.D.C. 2011)
(dismissing breach of contract claim against employer where
"[p]laintiff [had] allege[d] no facts to suggest that
she was acting within the scope of her alleged employment at
the time she 'solicited [ ] immigration
business'") (record citations omitted)).
Defendant D.C. Bar
unspecified time, the plaintiff allegedly filed a grievance
against Hart with the D.C. Bar "due to the fact that. .
. Hart. . . never officially introduced the plaintiff to LL
Cool J at Love The Club/Dream[.]" Id. ¶
32. The plaintiffs claim against the D.C. Bar is based on its
alleged failure to reprimand Hart for the alleged breach. But
the disciplining of attorneys admitted to the District of
Columbia bar is the province of the D.C. Court of Appeals,
over which this Court has no jurisdiction. D.C. Court of
Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 464 (1983).
The Timing of the Complaint
on the plaintiffs factual allegations, and drawing all
reasonable inferences in his favor, the Court finds that the
alleged breach occurred in 2006 at the latest. Therefore, the
plaintiff had until 2009 to file his claims. The Clerk of
Court received this action on November 14, 2016. The
plaintiff has asserted no credible reason to excuse his
seven-year delay in bringing this action. Consequently, this
case will be dismissed as barred by the statute of
limitations. See Arayav. KessIer, No. 15-7021, 2015
WL 5210518, at *1 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 12, 2015) (per curiam)
(noting that "the district court did not err in
concluding sua sponte that any independent ...