United States District Court, District of Columbia
ROSEMARY M. COLLYER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
September 16, 2013, Aaron Alexis, a civilian contractor
working as a computer technician at Washington, D.C.'s
Navy Yard, used a valid temporary access card to enter
Building 197 of the facility and then opened fire on its
occupants, killing and wounding several people. In the wake
of that tragedy, several related lawsuits have been filed
against Defendants The Experts, Inc., the subcontractor that
employed Mr. Alexis; Enterprise Services, LLC,  the contractor
that retained The Experts; and the Hana Group, Inc. and HBC
Management Services, Inc. (collectively HBC), which provided
security services to Building 197. The Court has previously
ruled on motions to dismiss in several of these cases in an
Opinion issued September 15, 2016 (the Prior Opinion, or
Prior Op.). See, e.g., Mem. and Op., Dkt. 132,
Delorenzo v. Enterprise Servs., LLC, 15-cv-216.
above-captioned cases are follow-on litigation not before the
Court at the time it issued its initial rulings. Four of
these cases (Jograj; Parker;
Stultz; and Levitas) were filed in this
Court directly. The remaining two (Boyd and
Lawson) were originally filed in filed in Superior
Court for the District of Columbia and then removed here.
Defendants have moved to dismiss these new
complaints. Plaintiffs have opposed those motions,
Defendants have replied. The motions are now ripe for the
Court's review. The Court will dismiss all counts against
all Defendants save those alleging negligent retention and
supervision of Mr. Alexis by both The Experts and Enterprise
Services. No claims survive against HBC, which will be
dismissed as a Defendant.
Plaintiffs are workers at the Navy Yard who witnessed the
shootings and allege both physical and psychological injuries
as a result of Mr. Alexis's rampage. They are as follows:
(1) Dotlyn Jograj, Jograj v. Enterprise Servs., LLC,
(2) Rosalind Parker, Parker v. Enterprise Servs.,
(3) Lori Lee Stultz, Stultz v. Enterprise Servs.,
(4) Douglas Levitas, Levitas v. Enterprise Servs.,
(5) Jerome Boyd, Boyd v. The Experts, Inc.,
(6) Sherrie Lawson, Lawson v. The Experts, Inc.,
Plaintiffs allege loss of consortium through their
(1) Gary Stultz, Stultz v. Enterprise Servs., LLC,
(2) Jennifer Levitas, Levitas v. Enterprise Servs.,
collectively assert numerous claims against the Defendants.
All Plaintiffs bring common law negligence claims against
Enterprise Services, The Experts, and HBC for failing to
anticipate and prevent the shooting; similarly, all
Plaintiffs allege that Enterprise Services and The Experts
were negligent in their hiring, retention, and supervision of
Mr. Alexis. All Plaintiffs further allege that Enterprise
Services and The Experts were negligent per se for
their failure to abide by certain federal statutes,
regulations, and policy manuals.
incumbent on the Court on its own initiative to verify its
jurisdiction. In five of the cases-Jograj;
Parker; Stultz; Levitas; and
Lawson-Plaintiffs all reside in states different
from all Defendants,  and the amount in controversy for all five
is greater than $75, 000. Accordingly, the Court has
diversity jurisdiction over these cases pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a)(1) (2012). However, Plaintiff Jerome Boyd and
Defendant The Experts are both residents of Florida,
precluding diversity jurisdiction in Mr. Boyd's case. The
question remains, then, whether jurisdiction over Mr.
Boyd's Complaint lies under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, which
provides jurisdiction for federal questions.
vast majority of cases brought under the general
federal-question jurisdiction of the federal courts are those
in which federal law creates the cause of action.”
Merrell Dow Pharm. Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804,
808 (1986). Mr. Boyd brings only claims under state law,
which would typically preclude consideration of such claims
in this Court. However, there are certain exceptions to this
has constitutional power to “exercise exclusive
Legislation in all Cases whatsoever . . . over all Places
purchased . . . for the Erection of Forts, Magazines,
Arsenals, Dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings.”
U.S. Const. art. I, s. 8, cl. 17. While the issue is not
entirely settled, courts have generally read the
“Enclave Clause” to establish federal subject
matter jurisdiction over tort claims occurring on federal
enclaves, and have allowed such claims to proceed even when
applying state law. See Akin v. Ashland Chemical
Co., 156 F.3d 1030, 1034 (10th Cir.1998) (finding that
“personal injury actions which arise from incidents
occurring in federal enclaves may be removed to federal
district court as part of federal question
jurisdiction”); Federico v. Lincoln Military
Hous., 901 F.Supp.2d 654, 656 (E.D. Va. 2012) (finding
federal subject matter jurisdiction where Plaintiff brought
tort claim against government contractor operating on federal
Navy Yard is the Navy's oldest shore establishment,
originating in 1799. Building 197, where the shooting
occurred, houses the Navy Sea Systems Command, responsible
for engineering, building, and supporting the Navy's
fleet of ships. The Navy Yard therefore qualifies as a
federal enclave. Further, this incident, which has already
generated a thorough investigation by the Navy, and which
involves several issues of Navy contracting and operating
procedures, implicates federal interests. Because the tort
claims in Mr. Boyd's Complaint arise from activities in a
federal enclave, and because the Court must directly
interpret federal law in order to resolve these claims,
federal question jurisdiction is appropriate under §
Complaints contain lengthy factual allegations regarding the
sequence of events. Plaintiffs rely heavily on government
investigations after the incident, and adopt several
government determinations as part of their own allegations.
The Court has already described the factual circumstances
underlying these cases in detail in its Prior Opinion, and
while it has considered all facts presented, provides a
shorter summary here.
years leading up to his employment with The Experts and
Enterprise Services,  Mr. Alexis had a history of violent
outbursts and arrests-although no convictions- including some
that occurred while Mr. Alexis served in the Navy. Despite
these incidents, Mr. Alexis was honorably discharged in
December 2010, retaining his security clearance.
September 2012, Mr. Alexis applied to work as a computer
technician with The Experts, which operated as a
subcontractor for Enterprise Services on the latter's
contract to supply certain information technology (IT)
services to the Navy. The contract between Enterprise
Services and the Navy referenced the National Industrial
Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM), which defined
security requirements for security-cleared contractors and
required contracting parties to report negative personnel
incidents to the personnel security clearance management
system in the Department of Defense, known as the Joint
Personnel Adjudication System.
NISPOM, Mr. Alexis's security clearance was still valid
in September 2012, because he had been discharged from the
Navy within the prior 24 months. Enterprise Services also
required The Experts to run a background check on new
employees, which consisted of a drug test, a driving record
check, and a criminal conviction check. Mr. Alexis cleared
all these background checks and was hired by The Experts.
Alexis worked for The Experts until December 2012, when he
voluntarily resigned. He reapplied in June 2013, and, after
once again passing background drug, driving, and convictions
checks, was rehired in July 2013.
Events of August 2013
August 2013 Mr. Alexis was assigned to a project at the Naval
Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island. On August
4, while awaiting a flight to Rhode Island, Mr. Alexis called
his project coordinator to complain volubly that a man was
making fun of him in the airport. The coordinator calmed Mr.
Alexis and on August 5 reported the call to the company's
contract team. Mr. Alexis also called the company's
travel coordinator later, complaining of the noise level in
his hotel and asking to move to another hotel, which he did.
days later, on August 6, Mr. Alexis again called the travel
coordinator and complained that three individuals had
followed him from the first hotel to his new hotel, and were
using an “ultrasonic device that was physically pinning
him to the bed.” See Prior Op. at 7. Mr.
Alexis made a similar report to his program manager. That
evening the travel coordinator spoke to the desk clerk at Mr.
Alexis's hotel and expressed concern that Mr. Alexis
could harm someone. The travel coordinator also contacted the
contract program manager to report the situation.
hotel desk clerk contacted the Naval Station Newport police
to report the information from the travel coordinator and
request that an officer be present near the hotel in case Mr.
Alexis tried to hurt someone. The police who responded to the
call found that Mr. Alexis had dismantled his bed and taped a
microphone to the ceiling to record the voices of the
individuals who had allegedly followed him. The police saw no
reason to arrest Mr. Alexis or place him in protective
evening, the contract's program manager, her immediate
supervisor, and The Experts' Facility Security Officer
spoke by conference call. They decided that Mr. Alexis should
leave Newport and return to Fort Worth to rest. A little
after 11:30 p.m., the Security Officer canceled Mr.
Alexis's visit notification to the Undersea Warfare
Center by an entry in the Joint Personnel Adjudication
System. At 1:12 a.m. on August 7, 2013, the program manager
emailed Enterprise Services representatives and the rest of
The Experts' contract management team and informed them
that Mr. Alexis was not feeling well and would be returning
to Fort Worth.
a.m. that night, Mr. Alexis called the Enterprise Services
second shift supervisor in Newport and told her that he was
being followed. He asked to stay in her room at her hotel, to
which she agreed. When he arrived, he told her that he was
hearing voices. The shift supervisor dismissed Mr.
Alexis's story and went to sleep. Mr. Alexis called the
City of Newport Police, who responded to his call at 6:20
a.m. and took a statement. Later that morning, the City of
Newport Police Officer-in-Charge contacted the Naval Station
Police Sergeant and faxed him a copy of the police report,
with a note saying “FYI on this. Just thought to pass
it on to you in the event this person escalates.”
10:00 and 10:30 a.m., the Enterprise Services' second
shift supervisor contacted her lead supervisor and learned
that Mr. Alexis was being withdrawn from the Newport
assignment. When the Enterprise Services' second shift
supervisor returned to her room, Mr. Alexis reported that the
three individuals who had been following him were now in the
room above and that he wanted to find a radar gun in order to
hear what they were saying. The shift supervisor also
reported this interaction to her supervisor.
Experts' HR Director and Legal Counsel instigated an
investigation into Mr. Alexis's behavior. After
interviewing several people with knowledge of Mr. Alexis and
the incident, The Experts management concluded that there was
insufficient evidence to file any adverse information report
with the government, and that Mr. Alexis could return to work
after some rest. The Experts assigned Mr. Alexis to four
projects between August 12 and September 6, 2013, during
which time there are no allegations of unusual behavior.
Events of September 2013
September 9, 2013, The Experts assigned Mr. Alexis to the
Washington Navy Yard. On September 14, Mr. Alexis purchased a
shotgun and sawed off the barrel. He carved the words
“my ELF [extremely-low frequency] weapon, ”
“better of [sic] this way, ” “not what
y'all say, ” and “end to the torment”
onto the gun.
September 16, Mr. Alexis used his valid access pass to drive
a rental car into the Navy Yard, and, carrying the shotgun in
a backpack, used his valid temporary building pass to enter
the Navy Yard's Building 197 without passing through any
metal detectors. Although HBC was providing security services
for Building 197 at the time, Mr. Alexis was not stopped or
searched by any HBC employee. Traveling to the fourth floor,
Mr. Alexis proceeded to fire indiscriminately, traveling
throughout the building, until the police shot and killed him
after approximately an hour.