United States District Court, District of Columbia
BERMAN JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Teshome Workagagnehu brought this action against defendants
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
(“WMATA”), Paul J. Wiedefeld in his official
capacity as General Manager of WMATA, and Martin Van Buren, a
former employee of WMATA, under D.C. Code Ann. §
9-1107.01 et. seq. (the “WMATA Compact”)
asserting claims of assault and battery (Count I) and
intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count II). Am.
Compl. [Dkt. # 6] (“Am. Compl.”) ¶¶
1-14, 74-99. Plaintiff seeks “damages in an amount
equal to all of his accumulated lost wages and benefits,
including back pay, front pay and benefits; and compensatory
damages for the physical injury and emotional harm caused by
[d]efendants . . . in an amount not less than $500, 000,
” as well as attorneys' fees and costs.
Id., “Prayer for Relief” at 18.
Wiedefeld and WMATA have moved to dismiss the suit pursuant
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). WMATA
Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss Pl.'s Am. Compl. with
Prejudice [Dkt. # 8] (“Defs.' Mot.”) at 1.
Defendants argue that the Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction because “[p]laintiff and WMATA agreed to a
Stipulated Order entered by the Commonwealth of Virginia
Workers' Compensation Commission on May 4, 2018, whereby
WMATA agreed to compensate [p]laintiff for the same injuries
alleged in the Amended Complaint, ” and as such the
Virginia Workers' Compensation Act (“VWCA”)
provides the exclusive remedy for plaintiff's injuries.
Id. The Court finds that it has jurisdiction over
plaintiff's claims under the WMATA Compact, but
plaintiff's injuries are barred from further relief by
the VWCA. Accordingly, defendants' motion to dismiss will
began working for WMATA as a mechanic in June 2012. Am.
Compl. ¶ 10. On March 8, 2017, he went to the Pentagon
train station in Virginia to repair SmartTrip card machines.
Id. ¶ 15. While he was there, he got into an
argument with Martin Van Buren, the on-duty train station
manager. Id. ¶¶ 14, 36-37. According to
plaintiff, Van Buren became upset after plaintiff assisted a
customer purchase a SmartTrip card. Id. ¶¶
26-28, 36. Van Buren told plaintiff that helping customers
was outside of plaintiff's “responsibility, ”
and plaintiff disagreed. Id. ¶¶ 36-38.
Then Van Buren allegedly punched plaintiff in the face,
pinned him to the ground, and continued punching him.
Id. ¶ 39. Plaintiff was taken to a hospital
where he stayed overnight. Id. ¶ 48. Police
arrived at the scene and defendant Van Buren was arrested.
Id. ¶¶ 44-46. On May 5, 2017, Van Buren
was convicted of simple assault under Va. Code Ann. §
18.2-57(A). Id. ¶ 53. Plaintiff alleges that he
continues to suffer physical and emotional harm from the
attack, and that his pain prevents him from working at full
capacity, which also hurts him financially. Id.
¶ 2; see also Decl. of Teshome Workagegnehu
[Dkt. # 13-1] (“Pl.'s Decl.”) ¶¶
declaration attached to his amended opposition to the motion
to dismiss, plaintiff also avers that after the attack he
“was placed on Workers' Compensation . . . from
March 9, 2017 to November 5, 2017.” Pl.'s Decl.
¶ 3. Plaintiff resumed work in November 2017, but by
February 2018, he was in so much pain that he had to undergo
surgery on his right knee and was unable to work.
Id. ¶¶ 4-7.
March 7, 2018, plaintiff filed this suit seeking damages for
the workplace assault. Compl. [Dkt. # 1], and six days later,
on March 13, 2018, he filed his second workers'
compensation claim in Virginia, “seeking wage loss
benefits from February 6, 2018 to March 13, 2018 and life
time medical benefits.” Pl.'s Decl. ¶ 8.
Plaintiff filed an amended complaint with this Court
approximately a month later, on April 26, 2018, but the
amended complaint did not mention plaintiff's
workers' compensation claims based on the same assault.
See generally Am. Compl.
this suit was pending, plaintiff retained an attorney
“who specializes in Virginia Workers' Compensation
law, ” who “settled” his second
workers' compensation claim on May 4, 2018. Pl.'s
Decl. ¶ 14. Plaintiff and WMATA agreed to a Stipulated
Order entered by the Virginia Workers' Compensation
Commission awarding plaintiff compensation for a period of
temporary disability from February 6, 2018 to April 8, 2018
and committing WMATA to pay for reasonable, necessary, and
causally related medical benefits pursuant to Va. Code Ann.
§ 65.2-603. Ex. 1 to Defs.' Mot. [Dkt. # 8-2]
(“Stipulated Order”). The Stipulated Order states
that “[t]he claimant sustained injuries to his head,
neck, low back, right leg, and right thumb arising out of his
March 8, 2017 work-related accident, ” id. at
1, and it provides the following relief:
ORDERED that the claimant's Award for temporary total
disability dated May 26, 2017 is terminated effective
November 5, 2017; it is further
ORDERED that the claimant is awarded temporary total
disability from February 6, 2018 through April 8, 2018 at the
rate of $ 976.84 per week; it is further
ORDERED that reasonable, necessary, and causally related
medical benefits for the claimant's head, neck, low back,
right leg, and right thumb shall continue as long as
necessary pursuant to Va. Code § 65.2-603; it is further
. . .
ORDERED that any remaining claims contained in the
Employer's Application for Hearing filed January 18, 2018
and Claimant's claim filed March 13, 2018 are dismissed
Id. at 2-3.
10, 2018, six days after the Stipulated Order was entered,
defendants WMATA and Wiedefeld filed a motion to dismiss this
suit due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and failure to state a claim
under Rule 12(b)(6). Defs.' Mot.; Mem. of Law in Supp. of
Defs.' Mot. [Dkt. # 8-1] (“Defs.' Mem.”)
at 1. Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion, Pl.'s
Mem. of P. & A. in Opp. to Defs.' Mot. [Dkt. # 9],
and he was subsequently granted leave by the Court to file an
amended opposition. Min Order (Oct. 29, 2018); Pl.'s Am.
Mem. of P. & A. in Opp. to Defs.' Mot. [Dkt. # 13]
(“Pl.'s Opp.”). The motion is fully briefed and
ripe for decision.
evaluating a motion to dismiss under either Rule 12(b)(1) or
12(b)(6), the Court must “treat the complaint's
factual allegations as true and must grant plaintiff
‘the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from
the facts alleged.'” Sparrow v. United Air
Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000)
(internal citation omitted), quoting Schuler v. United
States, 617 F.2d 605, 608 (D.C. Cir. 1979); see also
Am. Nat'l Ins. Co. v. FDIC, 642 F.3d 1137, 1139
(D.C. Cir. 2011), quoting Thomas v. Principi, 394
F.3d 970, 972 (D.C. Cir. 2005). Nevertheless, the Court need
not accept inferences drawn by the plaintiff if those
inferences are unsupported by facts alleged in the complaint,
nor must the Court accept plaintiff's legal conclusions.
Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir.