United States District Court, District of Columbia
KATHLEEN A. HARASEK, Plaintiff,
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION d/b/a/ AMTRAK, Defendant.
RANDOLPH D. MOSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case presents a single issue: Whether Defendant National
Railroad Passenger Corporation (“Amtrak”) is
subject to the False Claims Act (“FCA”), 31
U.S.C. § 3729 et seq. Plaintiff Kathleen
Harasek, a former Amtrak employee, alleges that her
supervisor retaliated against her, in violation of 31 U.S.C.
§ 3730(h), for filing a report with Amtrak's Office
of the Inspector General (“OIG”). The matter is
before the Court on Amtrak's motion to dismiss, Dkt. 5.
The Court agrees that Plaintiff fails to state a claim for
relief because the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act
(“the Reform Act”), Pub. L. No. 105-134, §
415(d), 111 Stat. 2570 (1997) (codified at 49 U.S.C. §
24301(a)(3) (2001)), provides that Amtrak “shall not be
subject to title 31, ” id. The Court will,
accordingly, GRANT Amtrak's motion to
dismiss, Dkt. 5.
purposes of the pending motion, the Court accepts as true the
facts alleged in the complaint, Dkt. 1. See Wood v.
Moss, 134 S.Ct. 2056, 2065-67 & n.5 (2014); see
also Williams v. Ellerbe, 317 F.Supp.3d 144, 146 (D.D.C.
Kathleen Harasek worked as an Inspector for the Amtrak Police
Department (“APD”) from July 2013 to July 2016.
Dkt. 1 at 3, 15 (Compl. ¶¶ 15, 66). In September
2015, Plaintiff was selected by Amtrak's Chief of Police,
Polly Hanson (“Chief Hanson”), to spearhead
efforts to plan Pope Francis's visit to the United
States. Id. at 4 (Compl. ¶ 19). This assignment
was “a massive undertaking” involving
coordination between multiple security and law enforcement
agencies. Id. Plaintiff avers that due to her work
on the Papal visit, her “administrative and operational
responsibilities” were reassigned to another officer at
the “direction of Chief Hanson and APD
leadership.” Id. at 4-5 (Compl. ¶ 21).
role as an Inspector also entailed leading instructional
programs for “external law enforcement partners.”
Id. at 5 (Compl. ¶ 27). This included RailSafe,
a two-day outreach program about “the capabilities of
the APD” and how external law enforcement could
“assist with responding to incidents within [the]
APD's jurisdiction.” Id. at 6 (Compl.
¶ 28). From 2014 onward, the RailSafe program was funded
by grant money from the United States Security and
Transportation Authority. Id. (Compl. ¶ 30).
Amtrak solicited bids from third-party vendors to implement
the program, and ultimately awarded the contract-valued at
over $1, 000, 000-to a security consulting firm, ABS
Consulting (“ABS”). Id. (Compl.
the summer of 2015, Plaintiff “became aware that ABS
was involved in fraudulent, or potentially fraudulent
activity[, ] arising from its work associated with the
RailSafe Program.” Id. at 6 (Compl. ¶
33). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that “ABS was
fraudulently submitting claims . . . for the work that was
actually performed by Amtrak personnel, all under the
direction and supervision of Chief Hanson.”
Id. at 8 (Compl. ¶ 38). ABS allegedly used
“handouts and materials” prepared by Amtrak staff
“without permission or consent, ” id. at
7 (Compl. ¶ 35), and took credit for presentations and
logistical services that “were led and conducted by
Amtrak personnel, not ABS, ” id. (Compl.
¶ 36). Plaintiff further suspected that “Chief
Hanson was directly or indirectly involved, and/or
economically benefitting from” ABS's activity
because of her “close personal relationship” with
Kerry Thomas, the RailSafe project manager at ABS.
Id. at 6-7 (Compl. ¶ 33). In mid-October 2015,
Plaintiff reported these concerns to Amtrak's Office of
the Inspector General (“OIG”) and
“request[ed] that the OIG investigate . . . Chief
Hanson's potential involvement.” Id. at 8
(Compl. ¶ 39).
alleges that, shortly thereafter, Chief Hanson subjected her
to a series of adverse employment actions in retaliation for
her report. See Id. at 8-15 (Compl. ¶¶
Plaintiff alleges that on or about October 21, 2015, Chief
Hanson transferred her to an “undesirable position of
lesser status”-“Inspector/Inspection and
Audits.” Id. at 8-10 (Compl. ¶¶ 41,
45). She further alleges that due to the transfer, she was
“stripped of supervisory duties and administrative
staff, ” “assigned to menial tasks, ” and
“limited” in her “exposure to other ranking
APD personnel.” Id. 9-10 (Compl. (¶ 45)
Plaintiff claims that on November 17, 2015, Chief Hanson
assigned her “holiday travel duty” over
Thanksgiving even though “the typical protocol was to
assign a Sergeant or Captain” for the job. Id.
at 10 (Compl. ¶¶ 48-49). In that same conversation,
Chief Hanson allegedly “accused [Plaintiff] of causing
problems within Amtrak, and further threatened that
[Plaintiff] should resign from the APD or there would be
negative consequences.” Id.
Plaintiff avers that on or before December 4, 2015, Chief
Hanson gave her a negative performance review, stating that
Plaintiff “[d]id [n]ot [m]eet [c]ommitments” for
“4 of the 9 Smart Goals set forth on [her] Performance
Evaluation.” Id. at 11 (Compl. ¶ 53). The
review, however, did not account for Plaintiff's special
assignment to the Papal visit or the reassignment of her
operational duties during that time. Id. at 12
(Compl. ¶ 57). Plaintiff alleges that “Chief
Hanson's negative ratings . . . precluded [her] from
receiving any promotion, salary increase[, ] or monetary
award at the end of the fiscal year, ” and
“derailed” her career advancement at Amtrak.
Id. at 11-12 (Compl. ¶ 54).
Plaintiff alleges that on or about March 9, 2016, she was
informed that Chief Hanson had filed an “Internal
Affairs Complaint” against her, accusing her of making
false statements “in the self-evaluation section of her
2015 Performance Review.” Id. at 13 (Compl.
¶¶ 61-62). This complaint was later dismissed.
Id. at 15 (Compl. ¶ 68). Plaintiff nevertheless
asserts that “the mere filing of [the complaint] [had]
negative consequences” and “impede[d] her future
employment opportunities and advancement at Amtrak.”
Id. at 14 (Compl. ¶ 63).
result of these “harassing, retaliatory, and deliberate
actions, ” Plaintiff alleges that she “was
constructively discharged by Amtrak on July 1, 2016.”
Id. at 15 (Compl. ¶ 66). She subsequently filed
this suit, alleging a claim for retaliation in violation of
the FCA, 31 U.SC. § 3730(h), and seeking damages,
attorney's fees, and other “relief as provided by
the False Claims Act.” See Dkt. 1 at 16, 18
(Compl. ¶ 71, Prayer). Amtrak has now moved to dismiss
on the ground that, “by statute, Amtrak is not subject
to suit under the FCA.” Dkt. 5-1 at 3 (citing 49 U.S.C.