United States District Court, District of Columbia
G. Sullivan United States District Judge
Dennis Johnson, a retired law enforcement officer, claims
that he was improperly detained and harassed after he entered
an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”)
facility with a handgun. He has sued the private security
contractors - MVM, Inc. (“MVM”) and Paragon
Systems, Inc. (“Paragon”) - allegedly responsible
for security at that ICE facility, along with Federal
Protective Services (“FPS”) and one of its
employees, Christopher Addams (collectively, “Federal
Defendants”). Pending before the Court are MVM and the
Federal Defendants' motions to dismiss the amended
complaint. For the reasons articulated below, the Court
GRANTS defendants' motions and dismisses
Mr. Johnson's complaint.
October 31, 2012, Mr. Johnson arrived at an ICE facility and
entered the building with a loaded handgun in his
briefcase.Am. Compl., ECF No. 12 ¶ 10. As a retired
federal law enforcement officer, Mr. Johnson asserts that he
is entitled to carry a firearm on federal property at any
time. Id. ¶ 10.
- perhaps because Mr. Johnson inadvertently entered the ICE
facility through the visitors' entrance and not the
employees' entrance - Mr. Johnson was immediately
detained by security guards allegedly employed or supervised
by defendants. Id. ¶¶ 10-13. According to
Mr. Johnson, even though he promptly displayed his
law-enforcement badge to the security guards, and even though
the security guards were allegedly notified that Mr. Johnson
was entitled to bring his weapon into the building, the
security guards "handcuffed Plaintiff for over two
hours." Id. ¶¶ 13-15.
Johnson further alleges that Christopher Addams - a FPS
employee who supposedly supervised "either a Paragon
Systems employee or MVM employee" - threatened to
initiate criminal proceedings against Mr. Johnson for his
conduct. Id. ¶¶ 16-17. Mr. Addams
purportedly continued to threaten Mr. Johnson with legal
action for a period of over two months after the incident,
through December 2012. Id.
on these allegations, Mr. Johnson filed suit on October 31,
2015 against Paragon. See Compl., ECF No. 1. In that
complaint, Mr. Johnson asserted four causes of action: (1) a
"Civil Rights Violation" pursuant to section 1983;
(2) assault and battery; (3) intentional infliction of
emotional distress; and (4) common-law negligence.
Id. ¶¶ 18-35.
1, 2016, the Court granted Paragon's partial motion to
dismiss, dismissing Mr. Johnson's claim for intentional
infliction of emotional distress after concluding that Mr.
Johnson had failed to sufficiently allege that his injury
resulted from "extreme and outrageous conduct."
See Johnson v. Paragon Sys., Inc., 195 F.Supp.3d 96
a year after initially filing suit, on October 21, 2016, Mr.
Johnson filed an amended complaint that omitted his
previously-dismissed claim for intentional infliction of
emotional distress and added MVM, FPS, and Mr. Addams as
co-defendants. See Am. Compl., ECF No. 12. On
September 27, 2017, the Court granted Paragon summary
judgment after finding that Mr. Johnson had failed to adduce
evidence suggesting that Paragon took any action that caused
Mr. Johnson's alleged injuries. See Johnson v.
Paragon Systems Inc., 272 F.Supp.3d 1 (D.D.C. 2017).
MVM and the Federal Defendants now move to dismiss Mr.
Johnson's amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12. Specifically, MVM argues that the amended
complaint should be dismissed for insufficient service of
process, because Mr. Johnson's claims are barred by the
relevant statutes of limitations, and because Mr. Johnson
fails to state a claim for negligence. See MVM Mem.
in Supp. Mot. to Dismiss (“MVM Mot.”), ECF No.
22-1 at 5-13. The Federal Defendants move to dismiss Mr.
Johnson's complaint for insufficient service of process,
lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, qualified immunity, lack
of personal jurisdiction, and for failure to state a claim.
See Fed. Defs.' Mem. in Supp. Mot. to Dismiss
(“Fed. Mot.”), ECF No. 23-1 at 6-18. For the
following reasons, the Court GRANTS those
motions and dismisses Mr. Johnson's amended
Rule 12(b)(1) - Subject-Matter Jurisdiction
federal district court may only hear a claim over which [it]
has subject-matter jurisdiction; therefore, a Rule 12(b)(1)
motion for dismissal is a threshold challenge to a
court's jurisdiction." Gregorio v. Hoover,
238 F.Supp.3d 37 (D.D.C. 2017) (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted). To survive a Rule 12(b)(1) motion,
the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that the court
has jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence.
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561
(1992). Because Rule 12(b)(1) concerns a court's ability
to hear a particular claim, "the court must scrutinize
the plaintiff's allegations more closely when considering
a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) than it would
under a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)."
Schmidt v. U.S. Capitol Police Bd., 826 F.Supp.2d
59, 65 (D.D.C. 2011). In so doing, the court must accept as
true all of the factual allegations in the complaint and draw
all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff, but the
court need not "accept inferences unsupported by the
facts alleged or legal conclusions that are cast as factual
allegations." Rann v. Chao, 154 F.Supp.2d 61,
64 (D.D.C. 2001).
reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), the
court "may consider such materials outside the pleadings
as it deems appropriate to resolve the question whether it
has jurisdiction to hear the case." Scolaro v. D.C.
Bd. of Elections & Ethics, 104 F.Supp.2d 18, 22
(D.D.C. 2000); see also Jerome Stevens Pharm., Inc. v.
Food and Drug Admin., 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C. Cir.
2005). Faced with motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) and
Rule 12(b)(6), a court should first consider the Rule
12(b)(1) motion because "[o]nce a court determines that
it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, it can proceed no
further." Ctr. for Biological Diversity v.
Jackson, 815 F.Supp.2d 85, 90 (D.D.C. 2011) (citations
and internal quotation marks omitted).
Rule 12(b)(6) - Failure to State a Claim
motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint.
Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir.
2002). A complaint must contain "a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what
the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it ...