United States District Court, District of Columbia
BERMAN JACKSON, United States District Judge
August 26, 2016, plaintiff Jeannette Outterbridge filed this
employment discrimination case against the Department of
Homeland Security. Compl. [Dkt. # 1]. Plaintiff, who worked
at DHS as a Personnel Security Specialist, alleged that her
managers engaged in discrimination based on her race and
gender, that she was retaliated against for complaining about
the alleged discrimination, and that the agency subjected her
to a hostile work environment. Id. ¶ 7. After
the parties engaged in a period of discovery, defendant filed
a motion for summary judgment, arguing that DHS had
legitimate and nondiscriminatory reasons for any alleged
adverse employment actions. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J.
[Dkt. # 24] (“Def.'s Mot.”). Plaintiff
opposed the motion, arguing that genuine issues of material
fact precluded the award of judgment to the agency. Pl.'s
Opp. to Def.'s Mot. [Dkt. # 30].
the Court can turn to the merits of the pending motion for
summary judgment, it must ensure that it has subject matter
jurisdiction over this dispute. Under Rule 12(b)(1), the
plaintiff bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction.
See Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561
(1992). Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and
the law presumes that “a cause lies outside this
limited jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life
Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); see also
Gen. Motors Corp. v. EPA, 363 F.3d 442, 448 (D.C. Cir.
2004) (“As a court of limited jurisdiction, we begin,
and end, with an examination of our jurisdiction.”).
“[B]ecause subject-matter jurisdiction is ‘an
Art[icle] III as well as a statutory requirement . . . no
action of the parties can confer subject-matter jurisdiction
upon a federal court.'” Akinseye v. District of
Columbia, 339 F.3d 970, 971 (D.C. Cir. 2003), quoting
Ins. Corp. of Ir., Ltd. v. Compagnie des Bauxites de
Guinee, 456 U.S. 694, 702 (1982). In addition, the Court
has an independent duty to assess its subject matter
jurisdiction. See NetworkIP, LLC v. FCC, 548 F.3d
116, 120 (D.C. Cir. 2008). Therefore, a district court may
dismiss a complaint sua sponte when it is evident
that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3); see Arbaugh v. Y & H
Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006) (“[W]hen a federal
court concludes that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction,
the court must dismiss the complaint in its entirety”).
United States may not be sued without its consent and [ ] the
existence of consent is a prerequisite for
jurisdiction.” United States v. Mitchell, 463
U.S. 206, 212 (1983). To sue the United States or a federal
agency, a waiver of sovereign immunity “must be
unequivocally expressed in statutory text.” Settles
v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 429 F.3d 1098, 1105 (D.C.
plaintiff is suing an agency of the federal government, she
must proceed under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16, which extends
the protection of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
to federal employees. The statute provides that federal
employees who are aggrieved by adverse rulings before the
Equal Opportunity Employment Commission “may file a
civil action . . . in which civil action the head of the
department, agency, or unit, as appropriate, shall be the
defendant.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(c).
interpreting this statute, the D.C. Circuit has held that, in
an employment discrimination suit against a federal employer,
“[t]he only proper defendant . . . is the ‘head
of the department, agency, or unit in which the allegedly
discriminatory acts transpired.'” Hackley v.
Roudebush, 520 F.2d 108, 115 n.17 (D.C. Cir. 1975),
quoting 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(c). As another judge in
this district put it, the language used in section
2000e-16(c) “means what it says, ” and failure to
sue the proper party is a defect in subject matter
jurisdiction. Nichols v. Agency for Int'l Dev.,
18 F.Supp.2d 1, 3 (D.D.C. 1998); see also Davis v. United
States, 973 F.Supp.2d 23 (D.D.C. 2014) (holding that
“because plaintiff did not bring her discrimination
claims against the proper defendant . . . the Court has no
choice but to dismiss her discrimination claims for lack of
light of those authorities, on June 28, 2017, the Court
ordered plaintiff to show cause “why this matter should
not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction for
failure to name the proper party, ” and it cited
section 2000e-16(c). Min. Order (June 28, 2017). In response
to the Court's Order, plaintiff filed a motion for leave
to amend her complaint. Mot. to File Late Mot. to Am.
Pleading to Join Agency as Def. [Dkt. # 32]. The motion to
amend states that plaintiff seeks to “join the EEOC
herein.” Id. at 1. A motion for leave to amend
a complaint will be denied when the proposed amended
complaint would not survive a motion to dismiss. See
Atchinson v. District of Columbia, 73 F.3d 418, 425
(D.C. Cir. 1996).
2000e-16(c) requires that any civil action be brought in the
name of the head of the department or agency
involved. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(c). So plaintiff was
required to sue the head of the Department of Homeland
Security, in his official capacity. Because plaintiff s
belated suggestion that she add another agency defendant
would not solve the subject matter jurisdiction defect, the
Court will deny the motion for leave to amend as futile.
plaintiff s proposed amendment would be futile, and because
plaintiff has not sued the proper party, the Court must
dismiss this action without prejudice for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction. A separate order will issue.
Plaintiff's motion to amend her
complaint failed to comply with the Local Rules because it
failed to attach the proposed pleading as amended. LCvR 7(i)
(“A motion for leave to file an amended pleading shall
be accompanied by an original of the proposed pleading as
amended.”). The Court of Appeals has repeatedly
“faulted litigants for [the] shortcoming” of
failing to attach a copy of their proposed amended complaint
to a motion for leave to file an amended complaint,
Schmidt v. United States, 749 F.3d 1064, 1069 (D.C.
Cir. 2014), citing Rollins v. Wackenhut Servs.,
Inc., 703 F.3d 122, 130-31 (D.C. Cir. ...