United States District Court, District of Columbia
REGINALD S. DANIELS, Plaintiff,
ROBERT WILKIE,  ACTING SECRETARY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
DISMISS FOR IMPROPER VENUE AND GRANTING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE RE DOCUMENT NO.: 9
RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Reginald Daniels brings this action against Robert Wilkie, in
his official capacity as Acting Secretary of the United
States Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”),
alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964 (“Title VII”); the Rehabilitation Act of
1973; the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
(“ADA”); the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
of 1967 (“ADEA”); the Vietnam Era Veterans'
Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (“VEVRAA”);
the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 (“WPA”);
the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of
1996 (“HIPAA”); defamation; and the First, Fifth,
and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Defendant has moved to dismiss this case for improper venue
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(3) or, alternatively, to transfer the
case to the Eastern District of Virginia or the Central
District of Illinois. For the reasons set forth below, the
Court denies Defendant's motion to dismiss, but grants
its motion to transfer the case to the Central District of
Reginald Daniels is an African-American veteran with multiple
psychological diagnoses. See Compl. ¶ 1, ECF
No. 1. After serving as a U.S. Navy chaplain for
approximately eighteen years, Mr. Daniels was hired as a
chaplain by Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System
(“VA-IHCS”) in Danville, Illinois. See
id. ¶ 1.
Daniels suffers from Borderline Asperger Syndrome, a
developmental disorder that limits his ability to effectively
socialize and communicate. See id. ¶ 2. Due to
this disorder, during his time as a chaplain, Mr. Daniels
often offended people by involuntarily using unfiltered words
and phrases, such as “seductive, ”
“extra-marital affairs, ” “sensual, ”
“whorehouse, ” “brothel, ” and
“wet T-shirt.” Id. at 11-12. Mr.
Daniels's supervisor advised him not to use profanity
when talking with other staff members, and especially with
female staff members. Id. at 11.
Daniels alleges that during his employment Defendant failed
to provide him with reasonable accommodations for his
“abnormal” mode of communication. See
id. at 4, 6. He explains that Defendant had a
“moral and legal” obligation to place him on a
Performance Improvement Plan or refer him to a Veterans'
Employment and Training Service Program before firing him, so
that he could properly assimilate into the civilian work
environment. Id. at 7. Instead, Defendant admonished
and forbade Mr. Daniels from using profane language, and
later fired him. See id. at 12.
days before receiving his letter of termination from the VA,
Mr. Daniels contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity
(“EEO”) Office in Danville, Illinois, and
complained that he was experiencing discrimination and a
hostile work-environment. See id. ¶¶ 8-9.
Mr. Daniels also informed his supervisor about inappropriate
sexual relationships taking place in the workplace. See
id. at 12. The VA initiated no further investigation
into the matter in response to Mr. Daniels's
“whistle blowing statement[s], ” and soon
thereafter fired him. Id. at 13.
Daniels's termination packet, the VA explained that Mr.
Daniels had been exhibiting “profane language, ”
“disruptive behavior, ” and “[n]egative or
threatening body language.” Id. at 10. At the
time of his termination, Mr. Daniels was also being
investigated for claims of sexual harassment. Id.
being fired, Mr. Daniels filed an EEO complaint regarding his
termination to Department of Veterans Affairs Office of
Resolution Management (“VA-ORM”) in Hines,
Illinois. See id. ¶ 14. Seventeen months after
filing his initial complaint, Mr. Daniels had still not
received a final decision from VA-ORM. See id.
¶ 18. Therefore, he filed a claim of his dissatisfaction
with the delayed proceedings to VA-ORM's Deputy Assistant
Secretary for Resolution Management in Washington, D.C.
See id. ¶¶ 18-19. Two months after filing
the claim of dissatisfaction, Mr. Daniels received an
unfavorable final agency decision from VA-ORM. Id.
¶¶ 19, 22. Mr. Daniels then brought suit in this
court for the alleged wrongful termination of his employment
at VA-IHCS and for VA-ORM's deficient investigation.
See id. ¶¶ 21-22. Mr. Daniels currently
resides in Richmond, Virginia. See id. at 1.
Defendant has moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, to
transfer, claiming that venue in this district is improper.
See Def.'s Mot. Dismiss or Alt. Transfer
(“Def.'s Mot.”) at 1, ECF No. 9.
“considering a Rule 12(b)(3) motion [to dismiss for
improper venue], 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. The court, however, need not
accept the plaintiff's legal conclusions as true.”
Darby, 231 F.Supp.2d at 276-77 (citation omitted).
party objecting to venue must present sufficient facts to put
the plaintiff on notice that there is a defect in venue.
See McCain v. Bank of Am., 13 F.Supp.3d 45, 51
(D.D.C. 2014), aff'd 602 Fed. App'x 836
(D.C. Cir. 2015). “Nevertheless, the burden remains on
the plaintiff to establish that venue is proper since it is
the plaintiff's obligation to institute the action in a
permissible forum.” Id. (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted). “The court may resolve the
motion on the basis of the complaint alone, or, as necessary,
examine facts outside the complaint that are presented by the
parties, while drawing reasonable inferences in favor of the
plaintiff.” Id. (citation omitted).
“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). “If a plaintiff brings suit in a
district that does not satisfy the venue requirements . . .,
venue is improper and [the] court must dismiss the case, or
if it is in the interest of justice, transfer the case to a
proper venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).”
Vasser v. McDonald, 72 F.Supp.3d 269, 277 (D.D.C.