United States District Court, District of Columbia
STEVEN H. HALL, Plaintiff,
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, et. al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINON AND ORDER
G. Sullivan United States District Judge
Steven Hall (“Mr. Hall”), proceeding pro
se, brings suit against the United States Patent and
Trade Office (“USPTO”) and USPTO Employee
Relations Specialist William House (collectively,
“defendants”) pursuant to Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e, et seq.; the Rehabilitation Act of
1973 (“Rehabilitation Act”), 29 U.S.C. §
701, et. seq.; and the Federal Tort Claims Act
(“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1346. He alleges that
the defendants discriminated against him on the basis of his
race and disability by allegedly withdrawing a tentative job
offer in November 2014.
the Court are Mr. Hall's objections to Magistrate Judge
G. Michael Harvey's Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”), which recommends that the Court
grant the defendants' motion to dismiss because Mr. Hall
failed to exhaust his administrative remedies and failed to
timely appeal the denial of his FTCA claim. See
R&R, ECF No. 19 (issued August 22, 2017). Upon
consideration of the R&R, Mr. Hall's objections, the
defendants' response to those objections, the
defendants' motion to dismiss, the responses and replies
thereto, and the relevant law, this Court
ADOPTS Magistrate Judge Harvey's R&R
and GRANTS the defendants' motion to
Judge Harvey pieced together a complete history of the facts
in this case from a variety of sources, including “a
substantial number of administrative proceedings initiated by
the Plaintiff, in addition to two other federal court actions
he brought in this district.” R&R, ECF No. 19 at 2.
Throughout the background section, Magistrate Judge Harvey
cited and relied on several documents not attached to the
amended, operative complaint. See Id. at 2-10.
However, such reliance was proper as the documents were
either “incorporated by reference in the complaint, or
documents upon which the plaintiff's complaint
necessarily relies . . . .” Ward v. D.C. Dep't
of Youth Rehab. Servs., 768 F.Supp.2d 117, 119 (D.D.C.
2011) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Magistrate
Judge Harvey also properly took judicial notice of certain
administrative proceedings that Mr. Hall had attached as
exhibits to his original complaint, but failed to re-attach
to the amended, operative complaint. R&R, ECF No. 19 at
12; see Vasser v. McDonald, 228 F.Supp.3d 1, 7-8,
9-10 (D.D.C. 2016)(taking judicial notice of administrative
orders and administrative complaints not attached to the
complaint: “[i]f courts could not take judicial notice
of such public documents, plaintiffs who obviously had not
complied with the administrative-exhaustion process could
survive motions to dismiss purely by failing to attach their
briefly summarize, Mr. Hall worked at the Department of
Homeland Security (“DHS”)-which is not a party to
this suit- until he was terminated in November 2013. R&R,
ECF No. 19 at 5. He received a tentative job offer from the
USPTO in November 2014. Id. On November 13, 2014,
the USPTO rescinded Mr. Hall's job offer upon learning
that he had previously been terminated by DHS. Id.
at 6. Allegedly on advice from an unnamed Department of
Commerce employee, Pl.'s Opp'n, ECF No. 16 at 3, Mr.
Hall challenged the USPTO's withdrawal of his offer by
filing an FTCA claim in December 2014. R&R, ECF No. 19 at
7. His FTCA claim was denied on June 16, 2015. Id.
On June 24, 2015, Mr. Hall initiated contact with the
USPTO's Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”)
Office, alleging that the USPTO's rescission was
unlawfully motivated by his race and disability. Id.
at 8. On August 5, 2016, Mr. Hall filed the instant action.
Mr. Hall does not object to these facts and confirms the
operative dates. See Pl.'s Objection, ECF No. 20
at 7, 11.
Hall objects to one fact included in the R&R and one fact
not included in the R&R. First, he objects to
the fact that Magistrate Judge Harvey mentioned that Mr. Hall
had been accused of sexual harassment at DHS, as it
“shows favoritism for USPTO . . . implying and
insinuating that [the defendants] made the correct decision
to rescind [his] tentative job offer due to alleged
misconduct.” Id. at 2. Magistrate Judge Harvey
included this fact “only for the purpose of providing
factual context”; it did not “constitute the
basis of any recommendation.” R&R, ECF No. 19 at 2.
That said, the Court will not consider this irrelevant fact.
Indeed, given the defendants' arguments in their motion
to dismiss, the only facts relevant “are those arising
from Plaintiff's engagement with the administrative
Mr. Hall objects that Magistrate Judge Harvey did not include
the fact that he had filed “several reconsideration
requests and appeals” and “submitted two other
District Court cases” regarding DHS' termination
decision. Id. at 3. While Magistrate Judge Harvey
did in fact discuss the multitude of litigation that Mr. Hall
has been involved in, see R&R, ECF No. 19 at
8-9, these disputes are not relevant to the instant case
against USPTO. Mr. Hall himself acknowledges that these other
cases are “closed and not related to this case.”
Pl.'s Objections, ECF No. 20 at 6.
found no error in the factual background and overruling Mr.
Hall's objections otherwise, the Court adopts and
incorporates Magistrate Judge Harvey's thorough
recitation of the facts in the R&R. See R&R,
ECF No. 19 at 2-10.
Standard of Review: Objections to a Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), once a magistrate
judge has entered a recommended disposition, a party may file
specific written objections. The district court “must
determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's
disposition that has been properly objected to, ” and
“may accept, reject or modify the recommended
disposition.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). Proper objections
“shall specifically identify the portions of the
proposed findings and recommendations to which objection is
made and the basis for objection.” Local R. Civ. P.
72.3(b). “As numerous courts have held, objections
which merely rehash an argument presented to and considered
by the magistrate judge are not ‘properly objected
to' and are therefore not entitled to de novo
review.” Shurtleff v. U.S. Envtl. Prot.
Agency, 991 F.Supp.2d 1, 8 (D.D.C. 2013) (quoting
Morgan v. Astrue, Case No. 08-2133, 2009 WL 3541001,
at *3 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 30, 2009) (collecting cases)). Likewise,
the Court need not consider cursory objections made only in a
footnote. Hutchins v. District of Columbia,
188 F.3d 531, 539 n.3 (D.C. Cir. 1999); see also
Potter v. District of Columbia, 558 F.3d 542, 553
(D.C. Cir. 2009) (Williams, J. concurring) (internal
amended complaint, Mr. Hall alleges that the defendants
discriminated against him by rescinding his tentative
employment offer. Am. Compl., ECF No. 11 ¶ 3. The
defendants allegedly rescinded his job offer upon learning
that DHS had terminated him. Id. According to Mr.
Hall, this decision was improper because the defendants
allegedly knew that DHS had unlawfully terminated Mr. Hall
due to his medical accommodation. Id. ¶ 4.
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Mr. Hall's
complaint, arguing that: (1) Mr. Hall had sued improper
parties, (2) Mr. Hall failed to administratively exhaust his
discrimination claims, and (3) Mr. Hall's FTCA claim was
time-barred. See Defs.' Mot., ECF No. 15.
Judge Harvey recommended that the Court grant the
defendants' motion to dismiss because: (1) Mr. Hall did
not sue the proper parties, to the extent that he is
attempting to sue individual employees, see R&R,
ECF No. 19 at 13; (2) Mr. Hall failed to timely exhaust his
administrative remedies as he must to bring a Title VII claim
or a Rehabilitation Act ...