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Clark v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 14, 2017

EDWARD CLARK, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al ., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Edward Clark filed suit against Defendants the District of Columbia and Detective Steven E. Manley of the Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”), alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution, and deprivation of civil rights arising out of the investigation leading to Plaintiff's arrest in July 2014, his subsequent detention, and the related criminal proceedings. Presently before the Court is Defendants' [7] Motion to Dismiss the Complaint or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment, requesting that the Court dismiss or enter judgment in Defendants' favor on Plaintiff's claims in their entirety. Upon consideration of the pleadings, [1] the relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court shall GRANT IN PART and DENY IN PART Defendants' [7] Motion to Dismiss the Complaint or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment. Specifically, the Court shall GRANT Defendants' request to dismiss Plaintiff's negligent infliction of emotional distress claim. The Court shall DENY Defendants' request to dismiss Plaintiff's malicious prosecution and Fourth Amendment claims.

         I. BACKGROUND

         For the purposes of Defendants' motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true the well-pleaded allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint. The Court does “not accept as true, however, the plaintiff's legal conclusions or inferences that are unsupported by the facts alleged.” Ralls Corp. v. Comm. on Foreign Inv. in U.S., 758 F.3d 296, 315 (D.C. Cir. 2014). The Court recites the principal facts pertaining to the issues raised in the pending motion, reserving further presentation of the facts for the discussion of the individual issues below.

         In 2013, Defendant Manley, an MPD detective, was assigned to the Narcotics and Special Investigations Division's Major Case Unit. Compl. ¶ 6. During the course of an investigation into the sale and/or distribution of PCP, Defendant Manley associated with Plaintiff a phone number allegedly called by one of his targets. However, the phone number in question did not belong to Plaintiff during any point when it was allegedly being called by the target of the investigation. Id. ¶¶ 6-7. Defendant Manley then obtained a photograph of Plaintiff and showed it to an alleged cooperating witness whom Defendant Manley later asserted identified Plaintiff as an individual who participated in a drug transaction. Id. ¶ 8. At all times during which Plaintiff was alleged to be in contact with a drug dealer and/or distributing illegal drugs, Plaintiff was at his job as a meat clerk at Giant Food or home with his family. Id. ¶ 9.

         As a result of the information obtained by Defendant Manley, an arrest warrant was issued for Plaintiff on or about March 27, 2014. Id. ¶ 10. Plaintiff was arrested on July 17, 2014, and charged in this Court with conspiracy to distribute narcotics. Id. Plaintiff was fingerprinted, booked, and detained. Id. After a detention hearing on July 22, 2014, Plaintiff was released from custody under high intensity supervision that included use of a GPS tracking bracelet and requirements that Plaintiff subject himself to weekly reporting and drug testing. Id. Plaintiff appeared before this Court on July 31, 2014, September 24, 2014, October 21, 2014, and November 10, 2014, in the criminal proceeding. Id. ¶ 11. A trial date was set for March 2, 2015. Id. However, the Government filed a motion to dismiss the charge which was granted by this Court on December 31, 2014. Id. ¶ 12.

         Plaintiff now brings this action against Defendant Manley in his official and individual capacities and against the District of Columbia, which Plaintiff asserts is responsible for the actions of MPD detectives, alleging three claims - negligent infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution, and deprivation of civil rights in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Defendants move the Court to dismiss all three claims against them for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. With respect to the negligent infliction of emotional distress claim against the District, Defendants, in the alternative, request that the Court grant summary judgment in their favor.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Court only sets forth the standard for a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) because it does not reach Defendants' request for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a complaint on the grounds it “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint contain “‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)); accord Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam). “[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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Rather, a complaint 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.

         In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and must accept as true all reasonable factual inferences drawn from well-pleaded factual allegations. In re United Mine Workers of Am. Employee Benefit Plans Litig., 854 F.Supp. 914, 915 (D.D.C. 1994). Further, in deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court may consider “the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint, ” or “documents upon which the plaintiff's complaint necessarily relies even if the document is produced not by the plaintiff in the complaint but by the defendant in a motion to dismiss.” Ward v. D.C. Dep't of Youth Rehab. Servs., 768 F.Supp.2d 117, 119 (D.D.C. 2011) (citations omitted).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Defendants assert that each of Plaintiff's three claims should be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Court notes that while Defendants have styled their motion in part as one seeking summary judgment, it appears Defendants are only seeking summary judgment as to Plaintiff's negligent infliction of emotional distress claim brought against the District.[2] As an initial matter, the Court notes that the Complaint is not a model of detail. However, for the reasons described herein, the Court finds that Plaintiff has pled sufficient facts to withstand a motion to dismiss on his malicious prosecution and Fourth Amendment claims. The Court further finds that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress upon which relief may be granted and, accordingly, the Court shall dismiss that claim. The Court shall address each claim in turn.

         A. Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim

         First, Defendants allege that Plaintiff has not sufficiently pled a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim and, as such, argue that the claim should be dismissed.[3] In the alternative, Defendants assert that the Court should grant summary judgment in their favor on this claim because Plaintiff failed to satisfy the mandatory notice requirement pursuant to D.C. Code ยง 12-309. For the reasons described herein, the Court finds that Plaintiff failed to sufficiently plead each element of the claim of negligent infliction of emotional ...


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