United States District Court, District of Columbia
BERMAN JACKSON, United States District Judge
Ghislaine Paul, proceeding pro se, brought this
action against the District of Columbia, the Attorney General
of the District of Columbia, and D.C.'s Office of Risk
Management (“ORM”). She claims that defendants
were negligent and that they violated the District's
workers' compensation laws, D.C. Code § 32-1501
et seq., in connection with an injury she suffered
sixteen years ago while working as a public-school
teacher. Compl. [Dkt. # 1] at 4. Plaintiff also
asserts civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
several other federal and D.C. statutes. Id. at 2.
She seeks damages “believed to be the sum of ten
thousand dollars . . . per day for each day that treatment
was denied beginning on May 3, 2002.” Id. at
4. Defendants have moved to dismiss plaintiff's complaint
on the grounds that the negligence claim is time-barred, the
workers' compensation claim is precluded by res
judicata, and the complaint fails to state federal
claims. See generally Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. # 10]
(“Defs.' Mot.”); Defs.' Mem. of P. &
A. in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. [Dkt. # 10] (“Defs.'
Mem.”). Plaintiff has opposed the motion. See
generally Pl.'s Mem. in Opp. to Defs.' Mot.
[Dkt. # 12] (“Pl.'s Opp.”). Upon
consideration of the parties' submissions, the relevant
authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court will grant
defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's lawsuit.
Court will do its best to summarize the relevant factual and
procedural history in this case, which spans sixteen years
and includes multiple administrative and court proceedings.
The Court relies on plaintiff's pleadings, although they
were somewhat scattershot and unclear, as well as public
records from previous proceedings. See EEOC v. St.
Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624 (D.C.
Cir. 1997) (stating that the court may take into account
“matters of . . . judicial notice” in addition to
the pleadings); Donelson v. U.S. Bureau of Prisons,
82 F.Supp.3d 367, 371 (D.D.C. 2015) (noting that, in
evaluating a motion to dismiss, “[t]he court may take
judicial notice of another court's proceedings”),
citing Jenson v. Huerta, 828 F.Supp.2d 174, 179
(D.D.C. 2011). The facts taken from plaintiff's complaint
must be accepted as true for purposes of a motion to dismiss.
See Atherton v. D.C. Office of the Mayor, 567 F.3d
672, 681 (D.C. Cir. 2009), citing Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).
a resident of Maryland, worked as a teacher at Francis Junior
High School in the District of Columbia public school system.
Compl. at 1, 3. On May 3, 2002, plaintiff was struck on the
head by a “large, heavy, framed map which had fallen
over.” Id. at 3. She claims that the incident
caused her bodily injury and ongoing physical and
psychological suffering. Id.
applied for, and was granted, disability benefits under
ORM's Disability Compensation Program (“DCP”)
on August 20, 2002. Compl. at 3. In 2004, plaintiff's
benefits were terminated because she failed to attend
vocational rehabilitation training required by the program.
Paul, 292 F.R.D. at 152. But plaintiff's
benefits were restored on November 29, 2006, after she
administratively challenged the termination. Id. The
following year, on May 16, 2007, plaintiff underwent a
medical examination by Dr. Noubar Didizian. Id. Dr.
Didizian produced a report that allegedly resulted in
plaintiff's benefits being terminated a second time on
October 15, 2007. Id.
challenged the termination of her disability benefits again,
resulting in a full evidentiary hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) in the
Administrative Hearings Division (“AHD”) of the
District of Columbia Department of Employment Services.
Ghislaine Paul, 2008 WL 731335 (D.C. Dep't of
Emp't Servs. Feb. 6, 2008) (“2008 Compensation
Order”). The issue in that proceeding was the
“nature and extent of [c]laimant's disability,
” and the ALJ concluded that “claimant's
work-injury has resolved” after she received extensive
medical treatment, and that “she [was] capable of
returning to her pre-injury employment.” 2008
Compensation Order at 1-2.
the ALJ issued a Compensation Order on February 6, 2008,
denying plaintiff's claim for relief and reinstatement of
benefits. 2008 Compensation Order at 3-4. This decision was
upheld by DCP's Compensation Review Board, which found
that the decision was supported by substantial evidence and
denied plaintiff's request to remand her case for a new
hearing. See Ex. 1 to Defs.' Mem. [Dkt. # 10]
(“AHD 2009 Order”) at 1. Plaintiff then appealed
the Compensation Review Board's decision to the District
of Columbia Court of Appeals, which granted summary
affirmance, denied plaintiff's motion to recall the
mandate, and made the underlying Compensation Order final on
May 4, 2009. Id.
quest did not end there. She filed appeals with the
Administrative Hearings Division on May 21, 2009 and May 27,
2009, that amounted to a motion to reinstate and reconsider
and schedule a new hearing. See AHD 2009 Order at 1.
On August 11, 2009, this motion was denied under the doctrine
of res judicata because the 2008 Compensation Order
was recognized as a final judgment on the merits that
precluded relitigation. Id. at 2.
satisfied, plaintiff next sought relief in federal court. On
October 1, 2010, she filed suit in the U.S. District Court
for the Eastern District of Virginia against the District of
Columbia and Dr. Didizian, alleging that Dr. Didizian's
examination amounted to medical malpractice. Paul,
292 F.R.D. at 152. The suit was transferred to the U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia, where it was
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Paul
v. Didizian, 819 F.Supp.2d 31, 35-36 (D.D.C. 2011)
(holding that diversity jurisdiction was missing between
plaintiff and Dr. Didizian because both were citizens of
Pennsylvania at the time and that “vague and
unexplained references” to federal rights in a
“rambling” complaint were insufficient to
establish federal question jurisdiction). Plaintiff appealed
that ruling, and on April 11, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the District of Columbia Circuit summarily affirmed the
district court's decision. Paul v. Didizian, No.
11-7139, 2012 WL 1450083 (D.C. Cir. Apr. 11, 2012).
plaintiff pressed on. On July 20, 2012, she filed a second
lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of
Columbia against the District of Columbia government and Dr.
Didizian, alleging medical malpractice and violations of
several federal statutes in connection with the termination
of her benefits. Paul, 292 F.R.D. at 152. The court
granted the District's motion to dismiss for insufficient
service of process. Id. at 158. It also granted Dr.
Didizian's motion to dismiss for failure to assert a
claim within the statute of limitations, and denied
plaintiff's motion to reopen and consolidate.
Id. at 157-58.
plaintiff initiated this action, her third federal lawsuit,
on April 4, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the District
of Maryland, which transferred the case to this Court because
venue was improper there. Order [Dkt. # 6] (“Transfer
Order”) at 4. The court reasoned that all defendants
are District of Columbia residents and a “substantial
part of the events or omissions giving rise to the
claims” occurred in the District of Columbia, not
Maryland. Id. at 3-4. “Therefore, regardless
whether jurisdiction is based on diversity or federal
question, venue is proper in the District of Columbia, but
not Maryland.” Id. at 4.
September 8, 2017, defendants moved to dismiss
plaintiff's lawsuit pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Defs.'
Mot. at 1; Defs.' Mem. at 1. Plaintiff opposed the motion
on October 18, 2017, Pl.'s Opp., and defendants filed
their reply on October 27, 2017. Defs.' Reply Mem. of P.
& A. in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. [Dkt. # 14].