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Mathews-Baker v. Reynolds & Associates, Inc.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

October 20, 2017

Roxanne Mathews-Baker, Plaintiff,
v.
Reynolds & Associates, Inc. et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Amit P. Mehta United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This case is before the court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 54. In accordance with Local Civil Rule 7(h)(1), Defendants have included a Statement of Material Facts (“Facts Stmt.”) as to which they assert there is no genuine dispute, ECF No. 54-1. Plaintiff Roxanne Mathews-Baker has failed to respond to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, as her deadline of September 14, 2017, has expired. Accordingly, as permitted by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) and the law of this Circuit, see Winston & Strawn, LLP v. McLean, 843 F.3d 503, 507 (D.C. Cir. 2016); Grimes v. District of Columbia, 794 F.3d 83, 92 (D.C. Cir. 2015), the court will treat the facts presented by Defendants as admitted, see also L. Cv. R. 7(h)(1). Having conducted an independent review of the record, see Winston & Strawn, 843 F.3d at 507-08, the court finds that Defendants have shown that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Consequently, it will grant Defendants' motion for the reasons explained more fully below.[1]

         II. BACKGROUND

         In November 2013, a grand jury sitting in this court indicted Plaintiff and thirty other individuals for multiple drug conspiracy offenses. See U.S. v. Mathews-Baker, No. 13-cr-00305 (EGS) (“Crim. Case Docket”). On April 29, 2014, Plaintiff agreed to plead guilty to one count of possession of heroin, but the judgment of conviction was not entered until September 16, 2015.[2]Meanwhile, on May 18, 2015, the presiding judge “ordered Plaintiff to be place[d] in a female halfway house and with work release.” Compl. at 3, ECF No. 1. From May 2015 to June 2015, Plaintiff resided at a halfway house in the District of Columbia owned and operated by Defendants.

         On August 4, 2015, Plaintiff filed this action, claiming that Defendants had violated her rights under the First, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments during her time at the halfway house. Compl. at 6-8. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants imposed a “no movement policy, ” where she felt “kidnapped” inside their building. Id. at 6. As a result of that policy, Plaintiff allegedly was (1) denied her First Amendment rights “to attend her own church” and to access a law library to research her case; (2) refused permission to leave the facility to obtain medical treatment and medication from the drug store, in violation of the Eighth Amendment; and (3) not permitted to work in accordance with the judge's order. Id. In addition, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated her privacy rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) when staff at the halfway house conveyed certain information to potential employers “when told not to do so.” Id. at 7. Finally, Plaintiff sues Defendants generally for “discrimination.” Id. at 1.

         The court has given Plaintiff ample opportunity to press her claims, but she time and again has chosen not to do so. More than one year after this case began, the court denied Defendants' supported motions to dismiss for lack of prosecution and instead issued a scheduling order for discovery, which was to conclude by December 27, 2016. See Minute Order, Sept. 30, 2016; Order, ECF No. 38. On January 18, 2017, after Plaintiff expressed concerns about divulging medical information to Defendant, the court issued a Protective Order with regard to Plaintiff's medical records and information, ECF No. 44; yet, Plaintiff did not engage in litigation. As a result, Defendants moved again to dismiss the case in its entirety for failure to prosecute. On June 26, 2017, the court documented Plaintiff's egregious history of failing to comply with orders and to participate fully in discovery, but dismissed only Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment medical claims in light of her persistent refusal to disclose medical records and information. See Mem. Op. and Order, ECF No. 51. The instant motion addresses the remaining constitutional claims.[3]

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that a court should grant summary judgment if “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and [the moving party] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A material fact is one that is capable of affecting the outcome of litigation. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         Rule 56 “mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case . . . on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The party moving for summary judgment “bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion” and identifying those portions of the record that it believes “demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Id. at 323. If the non-moving party does not oppose summary judgment, then the facts put forward by the moving party may be treated as conceded, but the burden still remains on the moving party “to demonstrate why summary judgment is warranted.” Grimes, 794 F.3d at 96-97 (Griffith, J., concurring). When a court's “independent scrutiny confirms fatal shortfalls in the evidence necessary to support a verdict in a nonmoving plaintiff's favor, the motion may be granted.” Grimes, 794 F.3d at 95.

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. Alleged Constitutional Violations

         Defendants rely almost exclusively on Plaintiff's deposition testimony, ECF No. 54-4 [hereinafter Pl.'s Depo.], which contradicts Plaintiff's premise that she was subjected to a “no movement policy” while at the halfway house. Because Plaintiff has not filed an opposition and refuted Defendants' facts adduced from her deposition, the court accepts as true that Plaintiff “was given the option of going to a church of her denomination either at the facility . . . or ‘right up the street, '” Facts Stmt. ¶ 5 (citing Pl.'s Depo. at 40, 52-53), and permitted to attend two job interviews outside of the facility, id. ¶ 6 (citing Pl.'s Depo. at 48). In addition, Plaintiff “was represented by . . . counsel” in the criminal proceedings while at the halfway house and, according to Defendants, “appealed her conviction.”[4] Facts Stmt. ¶¶ 3-4 (citing Pl.'s Depo. at 58-59). No reasonable juror presented with the foregoing testimony could return a verdict in Plaintiff's favor with regard to her First and Fifth Amendment claims.[5]

         B. Alleged ...


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