Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Patel v. Ambit Group

United States District Court, District of Columbia

September 17, 2019

MONAL PATEL, Plaintiff,
v.
THE AMBIT GROUP, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, and NEIL JACOBS, Administrator, [1] Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RANDOLPH D. MOSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Monal Patel, proceeding pro se, brings this action against The Ambit Group (“Ambit”) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its Administrator, (collectively “NOAA”). Liberally construed, Patel's complaint alleges claims for (1) breach of an express or implied contract, (2) wrongful termination, and (3) violations of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. § 701 et seq. See Dkt. 1 at 5 (Compl. § III). Ambit moves to dismiss on the ground that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, Dkt. 3, and NOAA moves to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim, Dkt. 8. For the following reasons, the Court will GRANT both motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         For purposes of the pending motions, the Court must accept the non-conclusory factual allegations set forth in the complaint as true, and will also consider Ambit's offer letter to Patel, which is referenced in the complaint. See Dentons U.S. LLP v. Republic of Guinea, 208 F.Supp.3d 330, 334-35 (D.D.C. 2016).

         The Ambit Group is a data analytics company that has contracts to perform work for government agencies, including NOAA. See Dkt. 3-1 at 2. On August 17, 2018, Ambit emailed Patel a letter offering him full time employment as a “CPIC Program Management consultant.” Dkt. 11-1 at 13 (“Offer Letter”). The Offer Letter states that Patel's starting salary would be “$4, 583.33 per pay period, ” with “24 pay periods per year.” Id. The offer was contingent on Patel's “successful completion” of a “security and badging process, ” which was presumably necessary to allow Patel to perform services at NOAA. Id. The Offer Letter lists the anticipated work location, the benefits Patel would receive, and other requirements, including execution of a Non-Compete/Confidentiality Agreement. Id. at 13-14.

         Of particular importance to the present dispute, the Offer Letter provided:

At Will Employment: This letter shall not be construed as an agreement, either expressed or implied, to employ you for any stated term, and shall in no way alter the Company's policy of employment at will, under which both you and the Company remain free to terminate the employment relationship, with or without cause, at any time, with or without notice. Similarly, nothing in this letter shall be construed as an agreement, either express or implied, to pay you any compensation or grant you any benefit beyond the end of your employment with the Company.

Id. at 14 (emphasis added).

         According to the complaint, Patel attended the required Department of Commerce training and provided his fingerprints to NOAA. Dkt. 1 at 5 (Compl. § III). After he completed these steps, however, Patel was notified that NOAA had “pulled” the position. Id. He alleges that, even though the offer was for employment at-will, events occurring after he received the Offer Letter, including his participation in the Department of Commerce training, gave rise to “an implied contract agreement.” Id. He further alleges, moreover, the NOAA violated the APA when it decided to “in-source” the job and when it failed to inform Ambit about “the role change, ” if, in fact, it failed to do so. Id. Finally, Patel alleges that NOAA was his “joint employer” because “it would have” been able “to assert control over [his] work and schedule, ” and that he was “wrongful[ly terminat[ed]” due to Ambit's “bad faith” and NOAA's arbitrary and capricious action. Id.

         Ambit now moves to dismiss Patel's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, Dkt. 3-1, and NOAA moves to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim, Dkt. 8.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is designed to “test[] the legal sufficiency of a complaint.” Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir. 2002). In evaluating such a motion, the Court “must first ‘tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state [the] claim' to relief, and then determine whether the plaintiff has pleaded those elements with adequate factual support to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Blue v. District of Columbia, 811 F.3d 14, 20 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 675 (2009)). Although “detailed factual allegations” are not necessary to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), the facts alleged in the complaint “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ” id. at 555-56.

         This matter is also before the Court on NOAA's motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1). A plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that the court has subject-matter jurisdiction. See Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, the court “may consider materials outside the pleadings, ” but “must still accept all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true.” Jerome Stevens Pharm., Inc. v. Food & Drug Admin., 402 F.3d 1249, 1253-54 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (citation and alteration omitted). Because subject-matter jurisdiction focuses on the Court's power to adjudicate the plaintiff's claim, a Rule 12(b)(1) motion imposes on the Court “an ‘affirmative obligation to ensure that it is acting within the scope of its jurisdictional authority.” Statewide Bonding, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., No. 18-2115, 2019 WL 2477407, at *3 (D.D.C. June 13, 2019) (quoting Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police v. Ashcroft, 185 F.Supp.2d 9, 13 (D.D.C. 2001)). As such, “‘the plaintiff's factual allegations in the complaint will bear closer scrutiny in resolving a 12(b)(1) motion' than in resolving a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim. ” Id. (quoting 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Fed. Prac. & Proc. Civ. 2d § 1350).

         A pro se complaint, “however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erick son v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). “This benefit is not, however, a license to ignore the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, ” Sturdza v. United Arab Emirates, 658 F.Supp.2d 135, 137 (D.D.C. 2009) (citation omitted), and thus a pro se complaint must “still ‘present a claim on which the Court can grant relief' to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) challenge, ” Smith v. Scalia, 44 F.Supp.3d 28, 36 (D.D.C. 2014) (citations omitted). Moreover, as with any other ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.