United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RANDOLPH D. MOSS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Brandon Laureys, who is represented by counsel, brings this
action against the District of Columbia, five D.C. officers
or employees, and two John Does. He has now filed his Third
Amended Complaint, which alleges a variety of claims under
federal and D.C. law relating to his treatment while
incarcerated at the D.C. jail. Dkt. 19. The District of
Columbia, the only defendant served to date, moves to dismiss
Counts I, II, IV, and VI. Dkt. 20.
reasons explained below, the Court will grant in part and
will deny in part the District’s motion.
filed this action in January 2018, Dkt. 1, but did not serve
the District of Columbia until March 2018, Dkt. 4; Dkt. 5;
Dkt. 6. He has yet to serve any of the remaining defendants.
Because far more than 90 days have now expired, the Court has
separately ordered that, unless Plaintiff effects service on
the remaining defendants on or before October 24, 2019, the
Court will dismiss the action without prejudice against those
defendants. Dkt. 24.
Plaintiff served the District of Columbia, the District moved
to dismiss. Dkt. 7. Plaintiff then filed his first amended
complaint as of right. Dkt. 8. The District again moved to
dismiss, Dkt. 10, and Plaintiff moved for leave to file a
second amended complaint, Dkt. 12. The District opposed that
motion, Dkt. 14, and, after the Court highlighted
“substantial deficienc[ies]” in Plaintiff’s
proposed, second amended complaint at a status conference,
July 10, 2018 Status Conference Tr. at 23:6, the Court
afforded Plaintiff an opportunity to move for leave to file a
third amended complaint addressing some of the factual gaps
in the proposed second amended complaint, id. at
24:16–21. At that time, the Court cautioned counsel
that he would need to plead more than just legal conclusions
and would need to plead facts sufficient to satisfy the
elements of each claim he seeks to bring. Id. at
3:7–15, 22–25; 6:1–12; 7:20–24.
Ultimately, the District took no position regarding
Plaintiff’s request for leave to file a third amended
complaint, Dkt. 18, and the Court granted Plaintiff’s
motion, Minute Order (Aug. 27, 2018).
Third Amended Complaint (hereinafter “complaint”)
includes seven counts. Dkt. 19. According to the complaint,
Plaintiff was “continuously incarcerated from on or
about November 14, 2008 until his release on or about January
3, 2018, ” and he was held “for part of that
time” at the D.C. jail. Dkt. 19 at 4 (3d Amd. Compl.
¶¶ 16–17). Plaintiff alleges that, while held
at the D.C. jail, he was “improperly protected and
classified by the defendants” and was improperly
“placed with hardened criminals.” Id.
(3d Amd. Compl. ¶ 19). He alleges that employees at the
D.C. jail were not properly trained or supervised,
id. at 4, 6 (3d Amd. Compl. ¶¶ 20, 35),
that these employees failed to properly supervise the
inmates, id. at 5–6 (3d Amd. Compl.
¶¶ 23, 33–34), that they failed to keep them
in their proper locations, id. at 5–6 (3d Amd.
Compl. ¶¶ 25, 33), and that they failed to enforce
the 8:00 p.m. curfew, id. at 5 (3d Amd. Compl.
¶ 25). He claims that these failures of the jail
employees facilitated his injuries at the hands of other
inmates. Id. at 6 (3d Amd. Compl. ¶ 35). He
also alleges that he was discriminated against because he is
“Caucasian.” Id. at 3, 7–8, 11 (3d
Amd. Compl. ¶¶ 10, 43, 47–49, 67–68).
recounts three alleged instances when he was physically
injured, twice by other inmates and once by a jail employee.
First, Plaintiff alleges that in the evening of November 29,
2009, when inmates were supposed to be within their cells, an
inmate punched him in the eye, causing a serious injury.
Id. at 5 (3d Amd. Compl. ¶¶ 25–27).
Second, he alleges that on February 5, 2010, Defendant
“Sergeant Ekwanna sprayed [him] with mace for about
eight . . . seconds for no valid reason, ” injuring
him. Id. (3d Amd. Comp. ¶¶ 28, 30). Third,
he alleges that, on or about March 28, 2010, he was
“assaulted by three . . . inmates when he was in his
protective cellblock, ” beaten with a broomstick, and
cut on his face with razors. Id. at 6 (3d Amd.
Compl. ¶¶ 32, 34). Following this last incident,
Plaintiff alleges that the warden of the D.C. jail used
“threat[s]” to try to convince him “to sign
papers to prosecute the perpetrators of the March 28, 2010
incident and [to] waive liability against the defendants
[named in the present action]” and that, in fact, he
“was placed in solitary confinement . . . for more than
five . . . months as punishment for failing to sign”
the papers. Id. at 7 (3d Amd. Compl. ¶¶
40–42). According to Plaintiff, this action was taken
in “retaliation by persons in charge of policy,
including the Warden, [the] directors of the Department of
Corrections[, ] Lieutenant Taylor[, ] and all
defendants.” Id. (3d Amd. Compl. ¶ 41).
He also alleges that he was “denied legal counsel and
medical treatment” following this incident,
id. (3d Amd. Compl. ¶ 44), and that “[o]n
numerous occasions, including March 28, 2010, unsupervised
inmates hit [him] with feces.” Id. at 6 (3d
Amd. Compl. ¶ 38).
District of Columbia moves for partial dismissal of Counts I,
II, IV, and VI of Plaintiff’s complaint pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Dkt 20.
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Well-pleaded complaints include
“factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. Raising the
“sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully” is not enough. Id. In evaluating a
12(b)(6) motion, the Court “accept[s] facts alleged in
the complaint as true and draw[s] all reasonable inferences
from those facts in the plaintiff[’s] favor.”
Humane Soc’y of the United States v. Vilsack,
797 F.3d 4, 8 (D.C. Cir. 2015). This focus on the factual
content of the complaint means that “[t]hreadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
complaint is not a picture of clarity. With respect to each
of the four counts that the District moves to dismiss,
however, the Court will attempt to identify the nature of the
claim asserted and the facts alleged in support of that
claim. The Court will then determine whether those facts are
sufficient to state the claim for relief. Because only the
District of Columbia has been served, the Court will limit
its analysis to the sufficiency of Plaintiff’s claims
against the District.
Count I: “Violation of Civil Rights pursuant to Title
42 Section 1983 of the United States
Count I, Plaintiff seeks to recover from the District of
Columbia under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for a series of alleged
violations of his First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendment rights. Dkt. 19 at 7 (3d Amd. Compl.
¶ 45). To state a claim for municipal liability under
§ 1983, a plaintiff must clear two hurdles. First, he
must allege “a predicate constitutional
violation.” Baker v. District of Columbia, 326
F.3d 1302, 1306 (D.C. Cir. 2003). Second, as required under
Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658
(1978), and its progeny, he must allege facts sufficient to
support a plausible inference “that a custom or policy
of the municipality caused the violation.”
Baker, 326 F.3d at 1306. Each requirement “is
separate and serves [a] different purpose[ ], ”
id., and a plaintiff’s failure to plead facts
sufficient to satisfy either hurdle requires dismissal under
respect to the first hurdle, the District correctly observes
that the District of Columbia is a federal entity subject to
the Fifth Amendment, and not the Fourteenth Amendment, to the
Constitution, see Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U.S. 497,
499 (1954); Propert v. District of Columbia, 948
F.2d 1327, 1330 n.5 (D.C. Cir. 1991), and thus
Plaintiff’s Fourteenth Amendment claim must be
dismissed. The District also argues that Plaintiff has failed
to allege a predicate First Amendment violation, but it
offers little or no analysis of Plaintiff’s First
Amendment claim. As the District recognized, Plaintiff
alleges that he was “threatened and
punished”-and, in particular, was placed in solitary
confinement for five months-because he refused to identify
his assailants and because he refused to waive his right to
bring suit against the District. Dkt. 20 at 6; Dkt. at 7 (3d
Am. Compl. ¶¶ 40–41). It is not obvious to
the Court that this allegation fails to state a claim under
the First Amendment, which, among other things, protects the
right to petition the government by bringing suit. See BE
& K Constr. Co. v. NLRB, 536 U.S. 516, ...