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Lucas v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 20, 2018

ALLAN EARL LUCAS, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THOMAS F. HOGAN SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is plaintiff Allan Earl Lucas, Jr.'s second motion to amend his complaint. [ECF No. 50]. The District of Columbia ("the District") filed an opposition. [ECF No. 52]. For the foregoing reasons, the Court will grant the motion.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs lawsuit seeks to recover financial damages for lost earnings and retirement benefits stemming from the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department's ("MPD") alleged failure to treat his induction into the United States Marine Corps as a military furlough and to reemploy him upon his discharge from military service. He filed a complaint against the District and other defendants on February 4, 2013, [ECF No. 1], and amended his complaint for the first time on December 17, 2013 to include only the District as a defendant, [ECF No. 34].

         The District filed a motion to dismiss, [ECF No. 36], and on September 30, 2015, the Court dismissed plaintiffs First Amended Complaint ("FAC") without prejudice because plaintiff did not demonstrate that he exhausted his administrative remedies as required under the Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act ("CPMA"). [ECF No. 39], In doing so, the Court concluded that based on the FAC, "plaintiff never filed a formal grievance or otherwise invoked the required and exclusive CMPA procedures to pursue his claims." Id. at 15. Plaintiff then moved for reconsideration or, in the alternative, for leave to file a second amended complaint. [ECF No. 41]. The Court denied both, denying the latter without prejudice because plaintiff failed to attach his proposed amended complaint to his motion for leave to amend, as required. [ECF No. 49].

         Plaintiff again moves for leave to amend his complaint, this time attaching a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"). Plaintiff contends that the Court should allow him to amend his complaint because he sufficiently alleges that he exhausted his administrative remedies.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party may amend its pleadings once as a matter of course within a prescribed time period. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). Beyond that, the decision whether to grant leave to amend is entrusted to the sound discretion of the trial court. Leave "should be freely given unless there is a good reason, such as futility, to the contrary." Willoughby v. Potomac Elec. Power Co., 100 F.3d 999, 1003 (D.C. Cir. 1996); Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(2) ("[t]he court should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires."). "A district court may deny a motion to amend a complaint as futile if the proposed claim would not survive a motion to dismiss." Hettinga v. United States, 677 F.3d 471, 480 (D.C. Cir. 2012). The defendant has the burden of demonstrating why a court should not grant leave to amend. Mead v. City First Bank of DC, N.A., 256 F.R.D. 6, 7 (D.D.C. 2009).

         THE PARTIES' CLAIMS

         To support his assertion that he has exhausted his administrative remedies, plaintiff asserts that he submitted two "formal grievances"-a letter to the D.C. Office of Personnel in March 2007, SAC, ¶ 29, Ex. 1, and a letter to the District of Columbia Retirement Board in 2010.[1] Id. ¶ 31, Ex. 2. He received a response from the District of Columbia Retirement Board on April 27, 2010 indicating that it lacked the authority to determine retirement eligibility or employment rights. Id., ¶ 32, Ex. 3. The District of Columbia Retirement Board then forwarded his letter and its attachments to the District of Columbia Police and Firefighters Retirement and Relief Board ("PFRRB"), as well as to the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department ("MPD") Human Resources Office. Id. Plaintiff met with MPD Human Resource Specialist Wanda Montcrieff and PFRRB Assistant Attorney General Pamela Brown on August 18, 2010, where they acknowledged that he did not receive appropriate separation counsel, and agreed to investigate the grievance. Id. ¶ 33. Plaintiff received a 14-page legal opinion from the PFRRB dated October 9, 2012 that concluded, after conducting an "investigation of the matter, " that "[t]he doctrine of laches bar[red] any claim in this matter because of Mr. Lucas' unreasonable delay, " and the PFRRB "ha[d] no jurisdiction in this matter." Id. ¶ 35, Ex. 4, at 20, 32-33.

         If plaintiff has not in fact exhausted his administrative remedies, he asserts that additional efforts would be "futile and useless" because the PFRRB has already taken a position on its jurisdiction and "indicated its unwillingness to reconsider the issue." Id. ¶ 37.

         According to the District, it is plaintiffs proposed amendment that would be "futile" because he fails to allege that he exhausted his administrative remedies. Def.'s Opp. at 1. Specifically, the District alleges that CMPA grievance procedures require that plaintiff appeal the denial of his grievances to the Office of Employee Appeals ("OEA"). Id. at 4.

         ANALYSIS

         The CPMA, D.C. Code §§ 1-601.01 etseq., is "with few exceptions, .. the exclusive remedy for a District of Columbia public employee who has a work-related complaint of any kind." Lucas v. District of Columbia,133 F.Supp.3d 176, 183 (D.D.C. 2015) (quoting Robinson v. District of Columbia,748 A.2d 409, 411 (D.C. 2000)). The CMPA requires that administrative remedies be exhausted though the CMPA before a federal court entertains a lawsuit. Lucas v. United States Gov't,268 F.3d 1089, 1094 (D.C. Cir. 2001); see Lucas, 133 F.Supp.3d at 183 (treating the exhaustion ...


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