United States District Court, District of Columbia
COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Lartasha Kelly brings this suit against the District of
Columbia and Metropolitan Police Department
(“MPD”) Officer Anthony Gaton for the events
leading to her arrest on June 29, 2018. According to her
Amended Complaint, on that day, MPD officers, including
Officer Gaton, responded to a call during which they
witnessed Plaintiff slap the face of another woman. Without
issuing any verbal commands or providing Plaintiff with the
opportunity to comply, Plaintiff alleges that Officer Gaton
conducted a “takedown” of Plaintiff, slamming her
to the ground and fracturing her pelvis. Plaintiff brings
claims for negligence and battery against the District of
Columbia and Officer Gaton. Additionally, Plaintiff brings a
claim against Officer Gaton for violating her Fourth
Amendment right to be free from the use of excessive force.
Defendants have moved for dismissal of each of
Plaintiff's claims, arguing that she has failed to state
a claim for which relief may be granted.
consideration of the pleadings,  the relevant legal
authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court will GRANT
IN PART and DENY WITHOUT PREJUDICE IN PART Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss. The Court GRANTS IN PART Defendants'
motion and concludes that Plaintiff has failed to allege a
distinct claim of negligence, separate and apart from Officer
Gaton's alleged use of excessive force. Accordingly, the
Court will DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE Plaintiff's Count
One negligence claim. The Court further DENIES WITHOUT
PREJUDICE the remainder of Defendants' motion, concluding
that Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged claims for battery
and for the violation of her Fourth Amendment rights.
Additional factual development is necessary before the Court
can further evaluate these two claims.
purposes of the motion before the Court, the Court accepts as
true the well-pled allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint.
The Court does “not accept as true, however, the
plaintiff's legal conclusions or inferences that are
unsupported by the facts alleged.” Ralls Corp. v.
Comm. on Foreign Inv. in the United States, 758 F.3d
296, 315 (D.C. Cir. 2014).
alleges that on June 29, 2018, MPD officers, including
Officer Gaton, were called to her location at 3915 R St. S.E.
in response to an altercation between Plaintiff and another
female. Am. Compl., ECF No. 9, ¶ 7. As Officer Gaton
approached Plaintiff, he witnessed her slap the face of the
other female. Id. Plaintiff alleges that no weapons
were used, that the slap did not cause serious injury, and
that she did not attempt further violence. Id.
Plaintiff further claims that she made no attempt to flee the
scene, to resist Officer Gaton, or to strike him or the other
response to Plaintiff's slap of the other female,
Plaintiff claims that Officer Gaton did not issue any verbal
commands, but instead immediately and violently slammed
Plaintiff to the ground. Id. In slamming Plaintiff
to the ground, Officer Gaton fell on top of Plaintiff.
Id. at ¶ 8. Plaintiff alleges that she is
5'3'' tall and weighs 131 pounds while Officer
Gaton is 6' tall and is believed to weigh approximately
280 pounds. Id. At the time that Officer Gaton is
alleged to have body slammed Plaintiff, Officer Gaton was
accompanied by two other officers who were available to
assist him. Id. at ¶ 7.
her encounter with Officer Gaton, Plaintiff was taken to
George Washington Hospital where she was found to have a
fractured pelvis. Id. at ¶ 8. Later that day,
all criminal charges against her were dropped. Id.
initially brought suit in the Superior Court of the District
of Columbia, but Defendants removed the case to this Court.
See Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1. Once in this
Court, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. See Am.
Compl., ECF No. 9. Defendants have moved to dismiss each of
the claims in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint.
move to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). According to Rule
12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a complaint on the
grounds that it “fail[s] to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
“[A] complaint [does not] suffice if it tenders
‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further
factual enhancement.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)). Rather, a complaint
must contain sufficient factual allegations that, if accepted
as true, “state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Amended Complaint, Plaintiff brings three claims. In Count
One, Plaintiff brings a negligence claim against the District
of Columbia and Officer Gaton. Am. Compl., ECF No. 9,
¶¶ 9-13. Plaintiff contends that Officer Gaton
violated the national standard of care by using a
“violent ‘take down' when the offense for
which Plaintiff was being arrested was minor in nature; there
was no appreciable risk of serious injury to others or to
[Officer Gaton] and Plaintiff did not resist or attempt to
flee.” Id. at ¶ 11. In Count Two,
Plaintiff brings a battery claim against the District of
Columbia and Officer Gaton. Id. at ¶¶
14-16. Plaintiff argues that Officer Gaton intentionally used
excessive and unjustified force when he executed a
“violent ‘take down'” in these
circumstances. Id. at ¶ 15. Finally, in Count
Three, Plaintiff alleges that Officer Gaton violated her
civil rights under the Fourth Amendment by unjustifiably and
unreasonably using excessive force. Id. at
¶¶ 17-21. Defendants move to dismiss all of the
claims in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. The Court will
address each of Defendants' arguments for dismissal in
Plaintiff's Negligence Claim
Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's Count One claim
for negligence. Defendants contend that Plaintiff's
negligence claim should be dismissed because she has failed
to allege a distinct claim of negligence, separate and apart
from Officer Gaton's use of excessive force. The Court
agrees and finds that Plaintiff's ...