United States District Court, District of Columbia
TIMOTHY J. KELLY United States District Judge.
August 8, 2016, Plaintiff Usman Jalloh filed this case
against Robert Underwood, Philip Tridico, and Arthur Kimball,
police officers employed by the District of Columbia's
Metropolitan Police Department, as well as Sean Miller and
Thomas Anderson, police officers employed by the Prince
George's County Police Department, alleging violations of
his rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourth
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. On June 7, 2017,
Defendants Miller and Anderson moved to dismiss the case for
improper venue, or in the alternative, to transfer the case
to the District of Maryland, on the grounds that some of the
alleged events occurred in Maryland.
allegations in the Complaint are presumed to be true for
purposes of this motion. Jalloh, a resident of Maryland,
alleges that on the afternoon of November 13, 2013, he was
sitting in his truck, parked on a District of Columbia
street, when Underwood approached him and told him that he
could not park there. ECF No. 1 (“Compl.”)
¶¶ 2, 10-11, 15. When Jalloh drove away, Underwood
and Tridico began to follow him. Id. ¶ 17.
Tridico told his supervisor on his police radio that Jalloh
had intentionally struck Underwood while pulling away from
the parking spot, and that Underwood was bleeding.
Id. ¶¶ 18-19. The officers continued to
follow Jalloh into Maryland. Id. ¶¶ 16-18,
20, 25-26. Jalloh pulled over, and Underwood got out of his
vehicle and approached Jalloh's truck, pointing his gun
at Jalloh. Id. ¶¶ 27-28. Anderson and
Miller then arrived at the scene. Id. ¶ 29.
Underwood pulled Jalloh out of the truck, and Underwood,
Tridico, Kimball, and Miller punched and kicked Jalloh.
Id. ¶¶ 30-34. None of the officers
provided medical assistance or otherwise intervened during
the beating. Id. ¶¶ 35, 38-39. In fact,
Jalloh subsequently required medical attention. Id.
¶¶ 40-41, 47. A few weeks later, Jalloh learned
that there was a warrant for his arrest in the District of
Columbia, and he turned himself in. Id. ¶¶
48-49. Jalloh alleges he was falsely charged with, among
other things, assaulting a police officer while armed.
Id. ¶¶ 52-53, 74. The charges were
dismissed approximately 18 months later. Id. ¶
contends that the beating that he suffered constituted
excessive force that violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the
Fourth Amendment. Id. ¶¶ 59-62. He also
asserts that the officers' failure to provide medical
assistance and to intervene while he was being beaten
violated the Fourth Amendment. Id. ¶¶
63-72. Finally, he asserts that the subsequent prosecution
for assaulting an officer and evading arrest was malicious
and violated the Fourth Amendment. Id. ¶¶
7, 2017, Miller and Anderson, the two Prince George's
County police officers sued in this case (the “Moving
Defendants”) moved to dismiss the case for improper
venue or, if venue is proper, to transfer it to the District
of Maryland in the interest of convenience and justice. ECF
No. 18 (“Transfer Mot.”). Jalloh opposed
transfer, see ECF No. 25, as did Underwood,
see ECF No. 24.
filed in an improper venue shall be dismissed or, if it is in
the interest of justice, transferred to a proper venue. 28
U.S.C. § 1406(a); see also Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(3) (providing that party may assert improper venue by
motion). In considering a Rule 12(b)(3) motion, the Court
“accepts the plaintiff's well-pled factual
allegations regarding venue as true, draws all reasonable
inferences from those allegations in the plaintiff's
favor, and resolves any factual conflicts in the
plaintiff's favor.” Pendleton v. Mukasey,
552 F.Supp.2d 14, 17 (D.D.C. 2008) (citing Darby v. U.S.
Dep't of Energy, 231 F.Supp.2d 274, 276-77 (D.D.C.
2002)). “Because it is the plaintiff's obligation
to institute the action in a permissible forum, the plaintiff
usually bears the burden of establishing that venue is
proper.” Freeman v. Fallin, 254 F.Supp.2d 52,
56 (D.D.C. 2003). To prevail on a motion to dismiss for
improper venue, however, “the defendant must present
facts that will defeat the plaintiff's assertion of
venue.” Khalil v. L-3 Commc'ns Titan Grp.,
656 F.Supp.2d 134, 135 (D.D.C. 2009). Unless there are
“pertinent factual disputes to resolve, a challenge to
venue presents a pure question of law.” Williams v.
GEICO Corp., 792 F.Supp.2d 58, 62 (D.D.C. 2011).
Dismissal for Improper Venue under § 1406
is proper in “a judicial district in which a
substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to
the claim occurred.” 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2).
Moving Defendants allege that the case must be dismissed for
improper venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) because
“none of the operative events” giving rise to
Jalloh's claims occurred in the District of Columbia.
Transfer Mot. at 4. The Court disagrees. On the undisputed
record here, a “substantial part” of the events
that gave rise to Jalloh's claims took place in the
District of Columbia, including: (1) the initial encounter
between Jalloh and Underwood; (2) Jalloh's alleged
assault of Underwood for which Jalloh was later prosecuted;
(3) Underwood and Tridico's pursuit of Jalloh, which led
to their alleged assault of him; and (4) Jalloh's
prosecution for assaulting Underwood. Compl. ¶¶
9-58; Transfer Mot. at 1-3.
Defendants also argue that “a substantial part”
of the alleged events giving rise to Jalloh's claims
occurred in Maryland, given that Jalloh was allegedly
assaulted by the officers there. See Tranfer Mot. at
3-4. The Court agrees. However, this does not mean that venue
is not also proper in the District of Columbia.
Courts have repeatedly explained that even if a substantial
part of the events in a case took place in one district, a
plaintiff may still file suit in another district if a
substantial part of the events also took place
there. See Perlmutter v. Varone, 59 F.Supp.3d 107,
110 (D.D.C. 2014) (“The ‘substantial part'
requirement does not mean that plaintiffs may only bring suit
in a district where every event that supports their claims
occurred, but plaintiffs must show that a considerable
portion of the events took place in their chosen
forum.”); Moreover, “[n]othing in section
1391(b)(2) mandates that a plaintiff bring suit in the
district where the most substantial portion of the
relevant events occurred, nor does it require a plaintiff to
establish that every event that supports an element of a
claim occurred in the district where venue is sought.”
Douglas v. Chariots for Hire, 918 F.Supp.2d 24,
28-29 (D.D.C. 2013) (quoting Modaressi v. Vedadi,
441 F.Supp.2d 51, 57 (D.D.C. 2006)). Because a substantial
part of the events giving rise to Jalloh's claims took
place in the District of Columbia, venue is proper under 28
U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2).
Transfer of Venue Under § 1404
Defendants also argue that, even if the case is properly
filed in the District of Columbia, it should be transferred
to the District of Maryland. See Transfer Mot. at
4-7. Even if a case is filed in a proper venue, it may be
transferred “[f]or the convenience of parties and
witnesses, in the interest of justice . . . to any other
district or division where it might have been brought.”
28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The movant first must show that the
plaintiff originally could have brought the case in the
transferee court. Treppel v. Reason, 793 F.Supp.2d
429, 435 (D.D.C. 2011). The movant also must show that
“considerations of convenience and the interest of
justice weigh in favor of transfer.” Sierra Club v.
Flowers, 276 F.Supp.2d 62, 65 (D.D.C. 2003). Under this
inquiry, the court weighs case-specific factors
“related to both the public and private interests at
stake.” Douglas, 918 F.Supp.2d at 31 (citing
Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29
(1988)). The moving party bears the burden to show decisively
that transfer is proper. Thayer/Patricof Educ. Funding,
L.L.C. v. Pryor Res., Inc.
(“Thayer”), 196 F.Supp.2d 21, 31 (D.D.C.
2002) (“The moving party bears a heavy burden of
establishing that ...