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Rogers v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 25, 2019

LAWRENCE ROGERS, Plaintiff,
v.
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Lawrence Rogers filed this suit against Defendant Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (“WMATA ”) asserting claims of negligence and negligent hiring, training, and supervision. Pending before the Court is Defendant WMATA 's Revised Motion for Partial Dismissal, ECF No. 9, seeking to dismiss Count Two of the Complaint on sovereign immunity grounds. Upon consideration of the relevant pleadings, briefing, [1] legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court GRANTS WMATA's Revised Motion for Partial Dismissal because Mr. Rogers has failed to file an opposition to this Motion and because sovereign immunity shields WMATA from his Count Two claim.[2]

         I. BACKGROUND

         Mr. Rogers originally filed this action in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia on May 16, 2019. Compl. at 1. WMATA removed the case to this Court on June 19, 2019 pursuant to D.C. Code § 9-1107.10, which grants the district courts original jurisdiction over suits against WMATA and allows for removal of such suits in the manner provided by 28 U.S.C. § 1446. See Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1. Mr. Rogers has not objected to the removal of this action.

         In his Complaint, Mr. Rogers alleges that he was a WMATA Metrobus passenger on or about May 18, 2016. Compl. ¶ 9. Mr. Rogers was standing in the aisle at the front of the bus and holding onto the grab bars. Id. ¶ 10. When the Metrobus stopped at a planned stop, the Metrobus Operator began to activate the wheelchair lift for use by a passenger with disabilities. Id. ¶ 11. At that point, the wheelchair lift “suddenly slammed back down and landed on” Mr. Roger's ankle and foot, injuring him. Id. ¶ 12. Based on these alleged events, Mr. Rogers has brought two claims against WMATA and requests $250, 000, plus interest and costs, in damages. Id. at 5. Count I of his Complaint alleges negligence in the operation of the wheelchair lift. Id. ¶¶ 13-22. Count II alleges negligent hiring, training, and supervision by WMATA. Id. ¶¶ 23-26.

         WMATA filed its Revised Motion for Partial Dismissal, which seeks dismissal of Count II on Rule 12(b)(1) and Rule 12(b)(6) grounds, on June 25, 2019.[3] See ECF No. 9. Mr. Rogers was to file his response by July 10, 2019. See June 24, 2019 Minute Order. As of the date of this Memorandum Opinion and accompanying Order, the Court has not received any response from Mr. Rogers.

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Local Civil Rule 7(b)

         “Local Rule 7(b) is a ‘docket-management tool that facilitates efficient and effective resolution of motions[.]'” Cohen v. Bd. of Trustees of the Univ. of the D.C., 819 F.3d 476, 480 (D.C. Cir. 2016) (quoting Fox v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 389 F.3d 1291, 1294 (D.C. Cir. 2004)); see Jackson v. Todman, 516 F . App'x 3 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (affirming district court's dismissal of case because appellant failed to file opposition to motion to dismiss). It provides that if a party does not file a memorandum of opposing points and authorities within “14 days of the date of service or at such other time as the Court may direct, ” that “Court may treat the motion as conceded.” LCvR 7(b).

         B. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) challenges a court's jurisdiction to hear the case. “Under Rule 12(b)(1), the party seeking to invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court-plaintiff in the present action-bears the burden of establishing that the court has jurisdiction.” Wright v. Foreign Serv. Grievance Bd., 503 F.Supp.2d 163, 169-70 (D.D.C. 2007), aff'd, No. 07-5328, 2008 WL 4068606 (D.C. Cir. Mar. 17, 2008). In determining whether the court has jurisdiction, “the court need not limit itself to the allegations of the complaint, ” and “may consider such materials outside the pleadings as it deems appropriate to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the case.” Chandler v. Roche, 215 F.Supp.2d 166, 168 (D.D.C. 2002).

         “At the motion to dismiss stage, counseled complaints, as well as pro se complaints, are to be construed with sufficient liberality to afford all possible inferences favorable to the pleader on allegations of fact.” Settles v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 429 F.3d 1098, 1106 (D.C. Cir. 2005). “The court need not, however, accept inferences unsupported by the facts alleged or legal conclusions that are cast as factual allegations.” Chandler, 215 F.Supp.2d at 168. And because a court has an affirmative obligation to determine whether it has subject-matter jurisdiction, “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.” Wright, 503 F.Supp.2d at 170 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police v. Ashcroft, 185 F.Supp.2d 9, 13-14 (D.D.C. 2001)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Court grants WMATA's Revised Motion for Partial Dismissal on two grounds. First, Mr. Rogers failed to file any opposition to the Revised Motion or ask for any extension to file an opposition. Pursuant to the Court's Minute Order dated June 24, 2019, Mr. Rogers was to file any opposition to WMATA's Revised Motion by July 10, 2019. Mr. Rogers, who is represented by counsel in this action, failed to file any response to the Revised Motion by July 10, 2019, or indeed at ...


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