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King v. Barbour

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 28, 2017

KURTIS KING, Plaintiff
v.
HALEY BARBOUR, JR., Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY United States District Judge

         This case arises from a physical altercation that took place between Plaintiff and Defendant[1] on April 30, 2015. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant attacked him on a sidewalk after Plaintiff complimented the appearance of a woman who Plaintiff later learned was Defendant's wife. Plaintiff filed this civil lawsuit asserting causes of action for assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendant is also facing criminal charges associated with the alleged assault. Defendant filed an Answer in this lawsuit and asserted various counterclaims. Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's [32] Motion to Dismiss Defendant's First Amended Counterclaim.

         Upon consideration of the pleadings, [2] the relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's [32] Motion to Dismiss. First, the Court holds that Defendant's counterclaim for assault is barred by the statute of limitations. Second, the Court holds that Defendant's counterclaims for defamation or libel and false light invasion of privacy are barred by the judicial proceedings privilege.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that on April 30, 2015, he left a restaurant in the District of Columbia with two friends and headed toward his car. Compl., ECF No. 1, at ¶¶ 6-8. According to Plaintiff, he then complimented a woman he saw on the street, whom he believed to be alone, on her appearance. Id. ¶¶ 10-11. Plaintiff alleges that after continuing to walk for a brief period, he heard shouting and turned around, only to see Defendant running at him. Id. ¶¶ 12-13. Defendant then allegedly attacked Plaintiff, causing him serious physical injuries. Id. ¶¶ 14-15. Defendant was arrested later that night and faces felony assault charges relating to this incident. Id. ¶ 21. Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this case on April 19, 2016, asserting causes of action for assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Id. ¶¶ 23-41.

         On May 14, 2016, Defendant filed an Answer and Counterclaim. Def.'s Answer and Counterclaim, ECF No. 11. In Defendant's Counterclaim, he alleged that on the night in question he was out with his wife when Plaintiff “brushed up against [Defendant's wife's] arm and body while making a shocking, disrespectful, and insulting comment.” Id. ¶ 2. Defendant alleged that he heard Plaintiff's comment and asked Plaintiff “what did you say?” Id. ¶ 3. According to Defendant, Plaintiff then charged toward him with the apparent intention of injuring both he and his wife. Id. ¶¶ 5-6. Defendant alleged that he only then hit Plaintiff after Plaintiff attempted to strike him, and only in defense of himself, his wife, and a friend. Id. ¶¶ 7- 11. Defendant claims that he suffered injuries to his hand as a result of the incident. Id. ¶ 12. Based on these facts, Defendant asserted counterclaims for assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation or libel, and false light invasion of privacy. Id. ¶¶ 13-50. Defendant has since amended his Counterclaim to remove his claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Def.'s First Am. Counterclaim, ECF No. 29 (“Am. Counterclaim”).

         Plaintiff has filed a motion to dismiss Defendant's Amended Counterclaim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Pl.'s Mot. That motion has been fully briefed and is now ripe for resolution.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a pleading on the grounds that it “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “[A] complaint [does not] suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)). Rather, a complaint, or counterclaim, must contain sufficient factual allegations that, if accepted as true, “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Court will dismiss Defendant's Counterclaim in its entirety under Rule 12(b)(6) for two reasons. First, Defendant's counterclaim for assault is barred by the statute of limitations. Second, Defendant's counterclaims for defamation or libel and false light invasion of privacy are barred by the judicial proceedings privilege. Although the Court will dismiss Defendant's counterclaim for assault with prejudice, the Court will only at this time dismiss Defendant's counterclaims for defamation or libel and false light invasion of privacy without prejudice to Defendant moving to amend those claims by no later than March 14, 2017.

         A. Defendant's Counterclaim for Assault is Barred by the Statute of Limitations

         First, the Court will dismiss Defendant's counterclaim for assault because it is barred by the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for civil assault claims in the District of Columbia is one year. D.C. Code § 12-301(4); Redding v. D.C., 828 F.Supp.2d 272, 283 (D.D.C. 2011). Defendant's civil assault counterclaim is based on an incident that allegedly occurred on April 30, 2015. See Am. Counterclaim ¶ 14. Defendant first filed his Counterclaim over one year after that date, on May 14, 2016. See generally Def.'s Answer and Counterclaim, ECF No. 11. It is accordingly untimely and barred by the statute of limitations.

         Defendant does not dispute these facts, but argues that his counterclaim should be considered timely because it constituted a compulsory counterclaim and was properly filed along with Defendant's Answer in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 13(a). Def.'s Opp'n at 2-3. In other words, Defendant asks the Court to hold that Plaintiff's filing of his Complaint in this case tolled the statute of limitations with respect to Defendant's compulsory ...


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