United States District Court, District of Columbia
RUDOLPH CONTRERAS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
one case in a series of actions filed by pro se
Plaintiff Dr. Tiemoko Coulibaly related to his employment
with and termination from the U.S. Department of State
(“State Department”). Dr. Coulibaly asserts
eleven counts against the Secretary of State, the State
Department's Office of the Inspector General
(“OIG”), and twenty-one current or former
employees of the State Department. Specifically, Dr.
Coulibaly brings claims pursuant to Titles VI and VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964; 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1982,
1983; and tort law. In some of the counts, Dr. Coulibaly asks
this Court to consider claims that he previously attempted to
bring in a rejected proposed amended complaint filed in an
earlier suit. Defendants move to dismiss Dr. Coulibaly's
complaint, arguing that it is barred by the rule against
claim-splitting and that, in any event, Dr. Coulibaly has
failed to state claims upon which relief may be granted. For
the reasons explained below, this Court grants
Defendants' motion to dismiss.
Court presumes familiarity with its prior Opinions in Dr.
Coulibaly's related litigation in Coulibaly v.
Kerry, 14-cv-189 (D.D.C.) (“Coulibaly
I”), and the Court takes judicial notice of the
docket in that case. Dr. Coulibaly is an African American
originally from Ivory Coast. See Coulibaly v. Kerry,
213 F.Supp.3d 93, 105 (D.D.C. 2016). In 1999, he was
contracted as a French language instructor at the State
Department's Foreign Service Institute
(“FSI”). Id. In June 2011, FSI hired him
as an employee for a two-year term. Id. at 108-09.
From his time as a contractor to his termination in 2012, Dr.
Coulibaly was involved in numerous conflicts with his
supervisors, some of which led him to file Equal Employment
Opportunity (“EEO”) complaints alleging
discrimination and retaliation. See Id. at 106-19.
In the months after filing these complaints, Dr.
Coulibaly's relationship with his supervisors
deteriorated even further. See Id. at 115-19. Dr.
Coulibaly alleged that workplace discrimination had caused
him to become ill. Id. at 119. At the direction of
his doctor, Dr. Coulibaly took leave from work between
mid-February and late March 2012. Id.
his leave of absence, Dr. Coulibaly returned to work only
briefly. See Id. In April 2012, FSI terminated him.
Id. The termination letter cited Dr. Coulibaly's
“inappropriate interactions with [his] supervisors, and
[his] failure to follow established procedures for requesting
leave.” Id. at 119; Letter from Catherine
Russell to Tiemoko Coulibaly (Apr. 2, 2012), Pl.'s Resp.
Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss Ex. 6, at 25, No. 14-cv-189
(D.D.C.), ECF No. 36-2.
Coulibaly subsequently filed two actions in this Court
against the Secretary of State and other State
Department-affiliated individuals in connection with the
aforementioned events. See generally Coulibaly I,
14-cv-189 (D.D.C.); Coulibaly v. Kerry, 14-cv-712
(D.D.C.). Most relevant to the present action is
Coulibaly I, in which Dr. Coulibaly pursued claims
against the United States, the Secretary of State, and other
current or former employees of the State Department, the
Merit Systems Protection Board (“MSPB”), and the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
for alleged discrimination and retaliation; and violations of
the First Amendment, tort law, contract law, and various
federal and District of Columbia statutes. See
Coulibaly, 213 F.Supp.3d at 121-22, 132-33, 152, 154,
158. Dr. Coulibaly also requested leave to file a fourth
amended complaint to incorporate additional counts, including
claims of violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act; 42
U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1982, 1983; and civil conspiracy.
See Id. at 160; Proposed Fourth Am. Compl.
¶¶ 375-94, 541-42, 14-cv-189 (D.D.C), ECF No. 36-1.
In a lengthy opinion, this Court dismissed or granted summary
judgment on most of Dr. Coulibaly's claims. See
Coulibaly, 213 F.Supp.3d at 104.
Court also denied Dr. Coulibaly's motion for leave to
amend the complaint, explaining that “many counts of
Dr. Coulibaly's proposed amended complaint duplicate
counts in the current complaint that the Court deems cannot
proceed.” Id. at 160. Furthermore, this Court
noted that many of the proposed amendments would be futile,
that some of Dr. Coulibaly's proposed claims appeared to
be based on entirely unrelated facts and on distinct legal
theories, and that Dr. Coulibaly's action had already
been pending for two years at the time that the Court had
issued its opinion and permitting amendment would further
delay the litigation. See id.
Coulibaly then initiated the present action in February 2017.
See generally Compl., ECF No. 1. Here, Dr. Coulibaly
alleges that Defendants intentionally mishandled and
sabotaged three of his EEO complaints. Compl. ¶¶ 3,
7, 23. He also alleges that Defendants violated Titles VI and
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; 42 U.S.C. §§
1981, 1982, 1983; and tort law. Compl. ¶¶ 39-101.
Similar to Coulibaly I, Dr. Coulibaly sues the
Secretary of State, the State Department's OIG, and
current or former employees of the State Department's FSI
and Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”).
Compare Compl. at 1-5, with Compl., No.
14-cv-189 (D.D.C.), ¶¶ 5-6, ECF No. 1. Dr.
Coulibaly asserts eleven counts against the Secretary of
State, in his official capacity, and against all other
defendants, in their official and individual capacities,
Compl. ¶¶ 20-22, alleging: (1) “Mishandling
of Each of the Three EEO Complaints Before this Court,
” Compl. ¶¶ 39-40; (2) retaliation, Compl.
¶ 44; (3) hostile work environment, Compl. ¶¶
48-49; (4) disability discrimination, Compl. ¶ 53; (5)
discrimination based on race, color, and national origin,
Compl. ¶ 57; (6) violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
Compl. ¶ 64; (7) violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981,
Compl. ¶ 70; (8) violation of § 1982, Compl. ¶
84; (9) retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, Compl. at p.
28; see also Compl. ¶ 70; (10) violation of
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Compl. ¶¶
95-96; and (11) civil conspiracy, Compl. ¶¶ 100-01.
Counts 6-10 appear to restate claims that Dr. Coulibaly
attempted to add in the rejected proposed fourth amended
complaint in Coulibaly I. See Compl.
¶¶ 60 (“Plaintiff previously presented this
claim in his fourth Amended Complaint filed with this
honorable Court in the case 14-0189 (RC) and respectfully
asks the Court to consider it here.”), 68 (same), 78
(same), 90 (same), 94 (same); see also Coulibaly,
213 F.Supp.3d at 160.
move to dismiss the complaint in its entirety, asserting that
Dr. Coulibaly has engaged in impermissible claim-splitting
and that, in any event, his complaint fails to state claims
upon which relief can be granted. Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss
Compl. & Mem. L (“Defs.' MTD”) at 3-14,
ECF No. 8. Defendants' motion is now ripe for decision.
move to dismiss Dr. Coulibaly's complaint, arguing that
it asserts the same or similar claims as those that he
previously attempted to bring in a rejected proposed fourth
amended complaint in Coulibaly I. Defs.' MTD at
3-6. Alternatively, Defendants argue that the claims should
be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
for failure to state claims upon which relief can be granted.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Defs.' MTD at 6-13. As explained
below, this Court grants Defendants' motion to dismiss
the complaint because, though the rule against
claim-splitting does not bar Dr. Coulibaly from bringing
these claims, he has failed to state any claims upon which
relief can be granted.
The Rule Against Claim-Splitting Does Not Bar Dr.