United States District Court, District of Columbia
KETANJI BROWN JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
University Legal Services, operating as Disability Rights DC
(“DRDC”), serves as the protection and advocacy
(P&A) system for the District of Columbia. (See
First Am. Compl. (“FAC”), ECF No. 14, at
Two federal statutes- the Developmental Disabilities
Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (“DD
Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 15001-15115, and the
Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness
Act (“PAIMI Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§
10801-10851-task DRDC with protecting, and advocating for,
the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities and
mental illnesses. These statutes specifically provide DRDC
with a “federal mandate to act to protect people with
disabilities in the District of Columbia, investigate
allegations of abuse and neglect, provide legal advocacy for
people with disabilities, and determine whether
investigations . . . [are] fully and independently
conducted[.]” (Id. at 2.)
instant lawsuit, DRDC alleges that the District of Columbia,
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, in her official capacity, and
Clinton Lacey, the Director of the D.C. Department of Youth
and Rehabilitative Services (“DYRS”), in his
official capacity (collectively, “Defendants”),
“have violated the right of [DRDC] to promptly obtain
from Defendants the complete, unredacted records relating to
allegations of abuse and neglect of individuals with
disabilities under their supervision and/or care.”
(Id. at 2, ¶¶ 2-5.) DRDC's First
Amended Complaint contains two counts: Count 1 is a claim
brought under the DD and PAIMI Acts based on Defendants'
alleged ongoing failure to provide records to DRDC timely
(see Id. at ¶¶ 45-56), and Count 2 is a
claim brought under section 1983 of Title 42 of the United
States Code (“Section 1983”) based on
Defendants' alleged violation of DRDC's statutory
rights as the P&A system for the District (see
Id. at ¶¶ 57-65).
this Court at present is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
DRDC's First Amended Complaint. (See Defs.'
Mot. to Dismiss First Am. Compl. (“Defs.'
Mot.”), ECF No. 15.) Defendants argue that DRDC's
claims are moot, due to the District's production of
certain records relating to one alleged instance of abuse.
(See Id. at 13- 17; see also Defs.'
Reply in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. (“Defs.'
Reply”), ECF No. 18, at 8- 13). Defendants also argue
that DRDC's Section 1983 claim should be dismissed,
because DRDC has failed to allege facts sufficient to support
municipal liability. (See Defs.' Mot.
at 19-25; see also Defs.' Reply at 13-18.) In
the alternative, Defendants move to dismiss the Section 1983
claim (Count 2) as duplicative of Count 1 (see
Defs.' Mot. at 25; see also Defs.' Reply at
18-19), and they further argue that any claims against the
individual defendants should be dismissed as duplicative of
the claims against the District (see Defs.' Mot.
at 28-29; see also Defs.' Reply at 20-21).
reasons explained below, this Court concludes that DRDC's
claims are not moot because they are based on an allegedly
ongoing policy of the District. However, because DRDC has not
pleaded facts that can plausibly support municipal liability
under any theory, Count 2 must be dismissed; and DRDC's
claims against the individual defendants will be dismissed as
duplicative of its claims against the District. Accordingly,
Defendants' motion will be GRANTED IN
PART and DENIED IN PART: the Court
will DISMISS without prejudice DRDC's
Section 1983 claim in Count 2 and DRDC's claims against
the individual defendants, while DRDC's Count 1 claim
against the District will be permitted to proceed.
Protection And Advocacy Systems Pursuant To The DD And PAIMI
Act provides states with federal funding “to improve
community services, such as medical care and job training,
for individuals with developmental disabilities.”
Va. Office for Prot. & Advocacy v. Stewart, 563
U.S. 247, 250 (2011) (citation omitted). A parallel statute,
the PAIMI Act, provides funding for similar protections for
the mentally ill. See Id. (citation omitted). Both
the DD and PAIMI Acts are based upon congressional findings
that individuals with developmental disabilities and mental
illnesses are uniquely susceptible to discrimination,
neglect, and abuse, see 42 U.S.C. §§
15001(a)(4), (5) (DD Act); id. §§
10801(a)(1), (3) (PAIMI Act), and that preexisting state
systems for monitoring and supporting these individuals were
inadequate, see Id. §§ 15001(a)(6), (11)
(DD Act); id. § 10801(a)(4) (PAIMI Act).
condition of receiving federal funding under the DD and PAIMI
Acts, a state must establish a system “to protect and
advocate the rights of individuals” with developmental
disabilities and mental illnesses, which is commonly referred
to as a “P&A system.” Id. §
15043(a)(1) (DD Act); id. § 10803(2)(A) (PAIMI
Act). The DD and Paimi Acts further require that state
P&A systems have comprehensive investigatory powers.
See Ctr. For Legal Advocacy v. Hammons, 323 F.3d
1262, 1270 (10th Cir. 2003) (describing the statutorily
mandated records access as “quite broad”);
see also Ala. Disabilities Advocacy Program v. J.S.
Tarwater Developmental Ctr., 97 F.3d 492, 497 (11th Cir.
1996). These broad powers include “the authority to
investigate incidents of abuse and neglect . . . if the
incidents are reported to the system or if there is probable
cause to believe that the incidents occurred[.]” 42
U.S.C. § 15043(a)(2)(B) (DD Act); id. §
10805(a)(1)(A) (PAIMI Act). Moreover, consistent with certain
statutory requirements, P&A systems must be granted
access to “all records” of individuals who may
have been abused, see Id. §
15043(a)(2)(I)(iii)(II) (DD Act); § 10805(a)(4)(B)(iii)
(PAIMI Act), as well as “other records that are
relevant to conducting an investigation, ” id.
§ 15043(a)(2)(J)(i). To this end, the PAIMI Act's
implementing regulations require that access to records be
“extended promptly.” 42 C.F.R. §
51.41(a). Likewise, the DD Act specifies that
covered entities must grant access to records “within
three business days” of the request. 42 U.S.C. §
15043(a)(2)(J)(i); 45 C.F.R. §
addition to investigatory powers, P&A systems also have
the statutory authority to vindicate the purposes of the DD
and PAIMI Acts by “pursu[ing] administrative, legal,
and other appropriate remedies to ensure the protection of
individuals with mental illness, ” 42 U.S.C. §
10805(a)(1)(B), or developmental disabilities, id.
Factual And Procedural Background 
has served as the designated P&A program for the District
of Columbia since 1996. (See FAC at ¶
1.) At some point in July of 2017, DRDC received
complaints that, over a period of several months, DYRS staff
physically abused and neglected “C.G., ” a child
who had been committed to DYRS custody and was detained at
the Youth Services Center in Washington, D.C. (See
Id. at ¶¶ 17-19.) On August 2, 2017, DRDC made
the first of a series of specific, repeated requests to DYRS
for records related to the alleged abuse of C.G. (See
Id. at ¶¶ 20-22.) From August to October of
2017, DYRS provided some-but not all-of the requested
records. (See Id. at ¶¶ 23-33.)
February 9, 2018, DRDC filed a complaint in this Court, along
with a motion for a preliminary injunction seeking the
outstanding records regarding C.G. (See Compl., ECF
No. 1; Mot. for a Prelim. Injunction, ECF No. 3; see
also FAC at ¶ 41.) Two weeks later, on February 23,
2018, Defendants produced records regarding C.G., and they
supplemented this production on March 2, 2018. (See
FAC at ¶¶ 42-43.) On March 8, 2018, the parties
appeared for a status conference, during which DRDC withdrew
its motion for a preliminary injunction in light of
Defendants' document productions. (See Min.
Entry of Mar. 8, 2018.) The Court expressed some concerns
about possible mootness and DRDC's failure to plead the
pattern and practice claim that DRDC's counsel seemed to
assert. (See generally Tr. of Mar. 8, 2018 Status
March 22, 2018, DRDC filed a First Amended Complaint, which
lamented “Defendants' repeated failure to comply
with [DRDC's] requests for access to records in the time
set forth under the PAIMI Act and DD Act[.]”
(See FAC at 2.) To demonstrate this alleged failure,
DRDC added allegations concerning three additional incidents
and claimed that they were indicative of Defendants'
years-long “policy and/or practice of failing to
provide timely responses” to DRDC's requests.
(See FAC at ¶¶ 34-35.) Specifically, in
addition to DYRS's failure to provide C.G.'s records
timely in 2017, DRDC alleged that: (1) in 2014, DYRS refused
to provide records related to a DRDC investigation into a
report that a child was physically assaulted, and DYRS
required DRDC to seek a court order for access to the records
(see Id. at ¶¶ 36- 37); (2) in the summer
of 2013, the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency demanded
that DRDC submit a Freedom of Information Act
(“FOIA”) request in response to a records request
related to a DRDC investigation into a child abused at a
psychiatric hospital (see Id. at ¶ 38); and in
2017, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education
asserted that DRDC needed to submit a FOIA request to obtain
records about alleged abuse of a child in an out-of-state
facility (see Id. at ¶¶ 39-40).
filed the Motion to Dismiss that is presently before the
Court on April 12, 2018 (see Defs.' Mot.), and
this Court held a hearing on Defendants' motion on
February 12, 2019 (see Feb. 12, 2019 Hr'g Tr.
(“Tr.”)). In briefing and through oral argument,
Defendants maintain that the entire case is moot in light of
the District's production of C.G.'s records, and thus
is subject to dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
(See Defs.' Mot. at 13-19; Defs.' Reply at
8-13.) Defendants also argue that DRDC has not plausibly
alleged municipal liability as required to sustain a Section
1983 claim against Defendants, and that, therefore, Count 2
must be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). (See Defs.' Mot. at 19-25; Defs.'
Reply at 13-18.) In the alternative, Defendants contend that
Count 2 should be dismissed as duplicative of Count 1.
(See Defs.' Mot. at 25; Defs.' Reply at
18-19.) Defendants also ask the Court to dismiss all of the
official capacity claims against the two individual
defendants- D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and DYRS Director
Clinton Lacey-which Defendants view as entirely duplicative
of the claims against the District. (See Defs.'
Mot. at 28-29; Defs.' Reply at 20-21.)
Rule 12(b)(1) Motions To Dismiss For Lack Of Subject-Matter
doctrines of standing, mootness, and ripeness are
‘[t]hree inter-related' doctrines of justiciability
that determine the ‘constitutional boundaries' of a
court's jurisdiction.” Jeong Seon Han v.
Lynch, 223 F.Supp.3d 95, 102 (D.D.C. 2016) (quoting
Worth v. Jackson, 451 F.3d 854, 855, 857 (D.C. Cir.
2006)). A determination that a claim is moot means that
“the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the claim,
and must dismiss it.” Id. at 103. Accordingly,
a challenge to a complaint based on mootness is properly
raised under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), which
allows defendants to challenge claims for “lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1);
see, e.g., Jeong Seon Han, 223 F.Supp.3d at
102-03, 110 (reviewing motion to dismiss on mootness grounds
under Rule 12(b)(1)); Friends of Animals v. Salazar,
670 F.Supp.2d 7, 10-11 (D.D.C. 2009) (same). And, while it is
ordinarily the burden of a plaintiff to prove that a court
has subject-matter jurisdiction, when mootness is at issue,
“[t]he initial ‘heavy burden' of establishing
mootness lies with the party asserting a case is
moot[.]” Honeywell Int'l, Inc. v. Nuclear
Regulatory Comm'n, 628 F.3d 568, 576 (D.C. Cir.
2010) (citation omitted). The party opposing mootness bears
the burden of proving that an exception to the doctrine
applies. See id.
determining whether to dismiss a claim as moot under Rule
12(b)(1), “the court must treat the complaint's
factual allegations as true and afford the plaintiff the
benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts
alleged.” Jeong Seon Han, 223 F.Supp.3d at 103
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted). However,
courts apply “closer scrutiny” to factual
allegations in a Rule 12(b)(1) analysis than in a Rule
12(b)(6) analysis, because federal courts have an