United States District Court, District of Columbia
BERMAN JACKSON United States District Judge.
December 15, 2016, plaintiff Ruthie Michelle Swanson,
proceedingpro se, brought this action in the
Superior Court of the District of Columbia against defendant
Howard University, Inc. ("Howard") alleging that in
2002, defendant acted negligently by placing her back on full
duty status as a nurse, thereby causing her to suffer a
physical injury that resulted in a permanent disability. Def
Howard's Notice of Removal [Dkt. # 1] ("Def's
Notice of Removal"); Ex. A to Def's Notice of
Removal [Dkt. # 1-2] ("Compl.").
removed this action on diversity grounds under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a). Def's Notice of Removal ¶¶
5-12. On January 26, 2017, defendant filed a
motion to dismiss plaintiffs complaint under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that: (1) plaintiffs claim
is barred under the doctrine of res judicata- (2)
plaintiff failed to allege sufficient facts to state a claim;
(3) a worker's compensation claim is plaintiffs exclusive
remedy for any work-related injury; and (4) plaintiffs claim
is barred by the statute of limitations. Def. Howard's
Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. # 6] ("Def.'s Mot.");
Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. [Dkt. # 6-1]
("Def.'s Mem.") at 6-9. Plaintiff opposed
defendant's motion on February 10, 2017, maintaining that
she stated a claim for negligence against defendant. Resp. to
Def.'s Mot. [Dkt. # 9] ("Pl.'s Opp.") at 1.
Defendant replied on February 21, 2017. Def.'s Reply to
Pl.'s Opp. [Dkt. # 10] ("Def.'s Reply").
January 26, 2017, defendant also filed a motion for costs and
fees under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, arguing that
plaintiff has filed "multiple baseless claims"
against it that are "based on the same incident, "
and that plaintiff should be sanctioned for filing
"frivolous claims  without a legal basis" that
"are intended to harass Howard." Def Howard's
Mot. for Attorney's Costs & Fees [Dkt. # 7]
("Def.'s Mot. for Costs & Fees")
¶¶ 8-9. Plaintiff opposed the motion on March 13,
2017. Opp. to Mot. for Sanctions [Dkt. # 11] ("Pl.'s
Opp. to Def.'s Mot. for Costs & Fees").
considering the parties' submissions, defendant's
motion to dismiss will be granted and this case will be
dismissed. The Court will decline to award defendant costs
and fees at this time, so that motion will be denied.
was employed as a nurse at Howard University Hospital.
Pl.'s Opp. at 1, 5. During her employment, she developed
"seronegative rheumatoid arthritis, " and her
doctor recommended that she be placed on light duty. See
Id. at 5. Plaintiff worked in the Neonatal Unit and had
been instructed not to lift more than ten pounds.
Id. at 1. However, one of plaintiffs supervisors
"demanded that [she] go to a heavy adult floor or be
fired." Id. On September 11, 2002, when
plaintiff lifted an adult patient, she sustained a wrist
fracture in her "dominant right hand, " which
"precipitated a prompt flare of her rheumatoid arthritis
and a dramatic progressive decline in her clinical
status." Id. at 1, 5.
claims that she applied for worker's compensation
benefits after she suffered her injury. Pl.'s Opp. at 1.
Her pleadings reveal that she received disability benefits of
$1, 181 per month, but she maintains that she was entitled to
more, and that by failing to pay her, defendant has breached
its "Union Contract" with plaintiff. Pl.'s Opp.
at 1, 3. Plaintiff now seeks $10, 000, 000 in damages. Compl.
Prior to filing the present case, Ms. Swanson filed two
actions against defendant Howard and Prudential Insurance
Company of America ("Prudential") in the Superior
Court for the District of Columbia. Both cases have since
been removed to this Court.
Swanson v. Howard Univ., et al., No. 1:16-cv-01863
(D.D.C.) (Swanson I")
August 10, 2016, Ms. Swanson, proceeding pro se,
initiated an action against Howard and Prudential in the
Superior Court for the District of Columbia. Swanson
I, Def Prudential's Notice of Removal [Dkt. # 1]
("Swanson I Notice of Removal") ¶ 1;
Ex. to Swanson I Notice of Removal [Dkt. #1-1]
("Swanson I Compl") at 4. According to the
complaint, plaintiff "was taken off [her] light duty
status and placed on full duty status illegally - thereby
causing [her] disability." Swanson I Compl. at
4. Ms. Swanson also claimed that "Howard University
never paid" her worker's compensation benefits, but
rather "the university manager hid [her] union
contract" and only paid her twenty-eight percent of her
"pay per month" when she was supposed to receive
sixty percent of her pay per month as a disability payment.
Id. She sought $25, 000, 000 in damages.
Id. The Court construed plaintiffs claim as one
arising under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of
1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et
seq., since the disability benefits she sought were
provided under an employer-sponsored insurance policy.
See Swanson I, Min. Order (Oct. 5, 2016).
moved to dismiss the case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), and because plaintiff "failed to
file a response to defendants' motions to dismiss on or
before October 27, 2016" after being ordered to do so,
the Court "treated defendants' motions as conceded
and dismiss[ed] the case." Swanson I, Order
[Dkt. # 13].
Swanson moved for reconsideration of the Court's Order
granting defendants' motions to dismiss, Swanson
I, PI.' s Mot. for Recons. [Dkt. # 15], but the
Court denied her ...