United States District Court, District of Columbia
RANDOLPH D. MOSS United States District Judge.
Karen Berryman-Turner, a former employee of the D.C.
Department of Corrections, alleges that the D.C. Department
of Employee Services terminated her disability compensation
benefits without adhering to the requirements of the Due
Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and District of
Columbia law. The Court granted in part the District's
motion to dismiss the original complaint, see
Barryman-Turner v. District of Columbia, 115 F.Supp.3d
126 (D.D.C. 2015), and Berryman-Turner subsequently filed a
seven-count amended complaint, see Dkt. 10. The
first five counts assert constitutional claims under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Dkt. 10 ¶¶ 28-44. The sixth
alleges that the District violated subsections 1-623.24(b)
and (d) of the D.C. Code by requiring Berryman-Turner to seek
reconsideration of the order terminating her benefits before
allowing her to request an administrative hearing. Dkt. 10
¶ 46. And the seventh count alleges that Berryman-Turner
is or will be entitled to future damages “if a work
related injury worsens.” Dkt. 10 ¶¶ 47-49.
matter is now before the Court on the District's Motion
to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment. See Dkt. 11.
That motion argues (1) that counts one, three, four, and five
are barred by res judicata; (2) that Berryman-Turner
is barred from seeking damages for the violation of D.C. law
alleged in count six under the law-of-the-case doctrine; (3)
that Berryman-Turner lacks standing to assert the claims for
injunctive and declaratory relief raised in count seven; and
(4) that Berryman-Turner was afforded all the process she was
due in the revocation of her benefits. Id. at 1. For
the reasons set forth below, the Court will GRANT the
District's Motion to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment.
relevant factual background of this case is undisputed. Karen
Berryman-Turner worked as a correctional officer for the D.C.
Department of Corrections. Dkt. 10 at 2, ¶¶ 4-5.
During the course of her employment, she suffered two
injuries to her head. On March 3, 1996, while she was
lowering a bucket to a co-worker, a strong gust of wind
caused a metal crank to swing at her head, knocking her
unconscious. Dkt. 11-4 at 1. Shortly after she returned to
work from that injury, her supervisor, who did not realize
that Berryman-Turner was behind him, slammed a door in her
face, causing her to suffer a concussion. Id.; Dkt.
11-3 at 3.
received disability compensation benefits from the District
for both injuries. Dkt. 10 at 6-7, ¶¶ 25-26. On
April 15, 2003, however, the District notified her of its
intent to terminate her medical benefits effective May 17,
2003. Id. at 7, ¶ 27. The District's
decision was based on two independent medical reports-an
independent medical examination report dated December 9,
2002, in which Robert A. Smith M.D. opined that “Ms.
Berryman- Turner could return to work on a full duty basis,
” and a second IME report dated April 2, 2003, in which
A. Jerry Friedman, M.D. opined that “Ms.
Berryman-Turner is able to return to work without limitations
or restrictions.” Dkt. 11-2 at 1. The District's
notice also informed Berryman-Turner of her right either to
request reconsideration or to appeal the decision to the
Department of Employment Services (“DOES”).
Id. The notice provided for an extension of benefits
through the reconsideration process, should Berryman-Turner
elect to pursue that course, but informed her that her
benefits would not continue through the appeals process if
she chose that option. Id. Berryman-Turner declined
to seek the reconsideration and appealed the District's
decision to a DOES Administrative Law Judge; as a result, her
benefit payments terminated on May 17, 2003. Dkt. 10 at 7,
¶ 27. The Administrative Law Judge upheld the revocation
of Berryman-Turner's benefits on October 1, 2003.
Berryman-Turner's benefits were terminated, a
class-action suit was brought against the District
challenging “the policies and procedures applied to
terminate, suspend, and modify [the] disability compensation
benefits” on behalf of a class of former D.C. employees
whose disability benefits had been terminated. Lightfoot
v. District of Columbia (Lightfoot I), No.
01-1484, 2007 WL 148777, at *1 (D.D.C. Jan. 16, 2007). On
January 14, 2004, the Court certified a class that included
“[a]ll persons who have received or will receive
disability compensation benefits” under the relevant
provisions of the D.C. Code, and “whose benefits have
been terminated, suspended, or reduced since June 27, 1998 or
whose benefits will be terminated, suspended or reduced in
the future.” Lightfoot, No. 01-1484, Dkt. 153
at 1 (D.D.C. Jan. 14, 2004). The Court subsequently modified
the class, limiting it to those “whose benefits were
terminated, suspended or reduced between June 27, 1998 and
April 5, 2005.” Lightfoot, No. 01-1484, Dkt.
333 at 1 (Apr. 17, 2007). There is no dispute that
Berryman-Turner was a member of both iterations of the
the present action, the Lightfoot case alleged that
the District's procedures for terminating or modifying
disability benefits violated the Due Process Clause of the
Fifth Amendment and D.C. law, and it sought declaratory and
injunctive relief. See Third Am. Compl.,
Lightfoot, No. 01-1484, Dkt. 152 at 3, 32 (D.D.C.
Sept. 7, 2003). After substantial motions practice and a
related appeal, the Lightfoot court ultimately
dismissed all of the class-wide claims, except for the
as-applied due process challenge to the District's
alleged failure to provide beneficiaries with an adequate
opportunity to show that they were entitled to continue to
receive benefits. See Lightfoot I, 2007 WL 148777,
at *1; Lightfoot v. District of Columbia
(Lightfoot II), No. 01-1484, 2007 WL 1087474, at *1
(D.D.C. Apr. 10, 2007). The court dismissed the facial
challenge to D.C. Code § 1623.24(d) because plaintiffs
failed to establish “that no set of circumstances exist
under which the [law] would be valid.” Lightfoot
II, 2007 WL 1087474, at *4 (quoting United States v.
Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 745 (1987)). The court dismissed
the other constitutional claims on the merits for failure to
state a claim. See Lightfoot I, 2007 WL 148777, at
*1. The court then declined to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over the sole D.C. law claim, and dismissed it
without prejudice. Id. Thus, after the
Lightfoot court's order of April 10, 2007, the
only surviving claim against the District was the as-applied
challenge to D.C. Code § 1-623.24(d). Lightfoot
II, 2007 WL 1087474, at *6.
the Lightfoot parties completed further discovery on
the remaining claim, the court concluded that the plaintiffs
could “satisfy neither the ‘commonality'
requirement of Rule 23(a)(2) nor the ‘cohesiveness'
requirement of Rule 23(b)(2).” Lightfoot v.
District of Columbia (Lightfoot III), 273
F.R.D. 314, 324 (D.D.C. 2011). As a result, the
Lightfoot court decertified the class on January 10,
2011. Id. at 339.
resolve a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction brought
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), the Court may
consider the complaint standing alone or in tandem with any
“undisputed facts evidenced in the record, ” and
may also resolve any factual disputes necessary to determine
its jurisdiction. Herbert v. Nat'l Academy of
Scis., 974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C. Cir. 1992). The burden of
establishing jurisdiction rests on the party asserting it.
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994).
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) “tests the legal
sufficiency of a complaint, ” Browning v.
Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir. 2002), and in
evaluating such a motion, the Court “must first
‘tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to
state [the] claim' to relief, and then determine whether
the plaintiff has pleaded those elements with adequate
factual support to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face, '” Blue v. District of
Columbia, 811 F.3d 14, 20 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 675, 678 (2009))
(alterations in original) (internal citation omitted).
Although “detailed factual allegations” are not
necessary to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), “a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, [if]
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face, '” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A
plaintiff may survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion even if
“recovery is very remote and unlikely, ” but the
facts alleged in the complaint “must be enough to raise
a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56 (quotation marks
omitted). In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim, the Court “may consider only the facts
alleged in the complaint, any documents either attached to or
incorporated in the complaint and matters of which [the
Court] may take judicial notice.” Trudeau v.
FTC, 456 F.3d 178, 183 (D.C. Cir. 2006). “Related
proceedings in other courts” are among those matters of
which the Court may take judicial notice. Dupree v.
Jefferson, 666 F.2d 606, 608 n.1 (D.C. Cir. 1981).
to establish entitlement to summary judgment, the moving
party must show “that there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986);
Holcomb v. Powell, 433 F.3d 889, 895 (D.C. Cir.
2006). A fact is “material” if it is capable of
affecting the outcome of the litigation. Liberty
Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248; Holcomb, 433 F.3d at
895. A dispute is “genuine” if the evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
non-moving party. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372,
380 (2007); Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248;
Holcomb, 433 F.3d at 895. “A party asserting
that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support
the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of
materials in the record . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(1)(A). In considering a motion for summary judgment,
“[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed,
and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his
favor.” Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255;
see also Mastro v. Pepco, 447 F.3d 843, 850 (D.C.
Cir. 2006). The non-movant's opposition, however, must
consist of more than allegations or denials and must be
supported by affidavits, declarations, or other competent
evidence, setting forth specific facts showing that there is
a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). The
non-movant must provide evidence that would permit a
reasonable jury to find in its favor. See Laningham v.
U.S. Navy, 813 F.2d 1236, 1241 (D.C. Cir. 1987). If her
evidence is “merely colorable” or “not
significantly probative, ” the court may grant summary
judgment to the moving party. Liberty Lobby, 477
U.S. at 249-50.
District moves to dismiss Claims One, Three, Four, Five, Six,
and Seven for failure to state a claim, arguing that
Lightfoot I precludes Claims One, Three, Four, and
Five; that this Court's decision on July 24, 2015 already
dismissed what is now Claim Six, see
Barryman-Turner, 115 F.Supp.3d at 137; and that Claim
Seven is not ripe for adjudication. The District moves for
summary judgment on Claim Two, Berryman-Turner's
as-applied due process challenge to the revocation of her
benefits. The Court will consider each argument in turn.
Motion to ...