KENLEY v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION re 57 Order on Defendant District of Columbia, Dorrough, and Littlejohn's 43 Motion to Dismiss Count V of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 07/13/2015. (lcjeb3)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Civil Action No. 14-1232 (JEB)
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al.,
Plaintiff William Kenley brings this suit alleging that Metropolitan Police Department
officers overstepped their bounds during a June 20, 2013, incident. He claims that after he began
to videotape officers falsely arresting his friend, they turned on him. One charged at him,
knocked his phone from his hands, and shoved him to the ground. Several officers then
conspired to falsely arrest him to cover up their misdeeds and to retaliate against him for
recording them. As part of this plan, they fabricated a claim that he had sicced his dog on one of
the officers and had thus committed an assault on a police officer. He was consequently arrested,
detained overnight, and formally charged. Although the prosecutor eventually dismissed the
case, Plaintiff seeks recompense from the District of Columbia and four of the officers under
myriad causes of action.
Defendants previously moved to dismiss many of the claims in Plaintiff’s Complaint,
and in a lengthy Opinion, the Court granted these motions in part and denied them in part. See
Kenley v. District of Columbia (Kenley I), No. 14-1232, 2015 WL 1138274, at *1-2 (D.D.C.
Mar. 13, 2015). It also reserved judgment on a handful of issues, noting the cursory manner in
which the parties had addressed them. Kenley thereafter filed an Amended Complaint in
accordance with the Court’s Order, and several Defendants have taken the opportunity to bring a
second, consolidated Motion to Dismiss, advancing their absolute-immunity defense once more
and raising new arguments regarding the negligent-training-and-supervision claim against the
District. Because the Court concludes that immunity does not lie for the officers, but agrees that
the training-and-supervision cause of action should be dismissed, it will again grant the Motion
in part and deny it in part.
The Court has previously recounted Kenley’s allegations in considerable detail, see
Kenley I, 2015 WL 1138274, at *1-2, so it only briefly summarizes them here. On June 20,
2013, Kenley observed Metropolitan Police Department officers assaulting and falsely arresting
his friend, so he began to record the incident on his cellphone. See Am. Compl., ECF No. 41, ¶¶
8-11. As Officer Adam Shaatal placed the friend in handcuffs, he looked at Kenley and told
Officer Brandon Baldwin to “get him back.” Id. Baldwin subsequently “charged” at Plaintiff,
“intentionally knocking his cellphone . . . out of his hands,” and “pushed him violently to the
ground.” Id., ¶ 12. Around the same time, Kenley’s dog came running out of his house. See id.,
¶ 13. The officers drew their guns and pointed them at both him and his dog. See id. “[I]n an
effort to defuse the situation,” Plaintiff took the dog back inside. See id.
Officers Shaatal, Baldwin, and Michael Littlejohn then met with other officers on the
scene and “agreed to falsely charge . . . Kenley with assaulting a police officer” and to “institute
criminal proceedings” against him in order to intimidate him and “cover up their wrongful
conduct.” Id., ¶¶ 16-18. In furtherance of the plan, Shaatal claimed that Kenley had assaulted
him by goading his dog to attack. See id., ¶ 20. Plaintiff was then arrested, and Baldwin, who
“knew or should have known” that Shaatal’s claim was false, wrote up an arrest report based on
his accusation. See id., ¶ 20.
Afterwards, Sergeant Jonathan Dorrough secured the area and canvassed it for witnesses.
See id., ¶ 21. At least one gave a statement on a PD Form 119 (for witness statements) that when
the dog ran outside, Kenley did not encourage it to attack, but instead said, “Mom, put her back
in the house.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). That evening or the next morning,
Dorrough told Baldwin about the exculpatory statement. See id., ¶ 24. Although Baldwin, the
“papering officer,” and Dorrough, the supervising officer, were allegedly required to turn over all
witness statements to the U.S. Attorney’s Office during the “papering” process – i.e., the
prosecution’s initial screening of the case for formal charging – they did not disclose this
statement. See id., ¶¶ 22-23. Baldwin and Littlejohn also failed to inform the prosecutor that
they had been present when the dog ran out, yet had never heard Kenley say, “[G]et him, sic
him” – which is the entire apparent basis for the assault charge. See id., ¶ 19.
As a result of the officers’ conduct, Kenley was detained overnight, presented in court,
and charged with felony assault on an officer. See id., ¶ 20. Sometime after the arrest, an
unknown officer also informed Kenley’s employer of the charges, and he was suspended from
work without pay while the case was pending. See id., ¶ 15. Over a month after the incident, the
witness statement was finally turned over to the prosecution. See id., ¶¶ 25-26. After receiving
this information and conducting an investigation, the prosecutor moved to dismiss the charges.
See id., ¶ 26.
Plaintiff claims to have suffered a number of injuries as a result of this incident, including
“lost wages, medical expenses[,] . . . emotional distress, and . . . damage to his professional
reputation.” Id., ¶ 40. He thus filed this suit against Shaatal, Littlejohn, Baldwin, Dorrough, and
the District of Columbia, alleging a multitude of claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the U.S.
Constitution, and state law. After the case was removed to this court, each of the Defendants
moved to dismiss certain of the claims against them, and Plaintiff moved to amend his
Complaint. The Court granted these motions in part and denied them in part, allowing Kenley to
proceed with the following claims:
(1) Violations of the First Amendment against Baldwin, Dorrough,
Littlejohn, and Shaatal (Count I);
(2) Violations of the Fourth Amendment against Baldwin,
Dorrough, Littlejohn, and Shaatal (Count II);
(3) False arrest against Baldwin, Dorrough, Littlejohn, Shaatal,
and the District (Count III);
(4) Assault and battery against Baldwin and the District (Count
(5) Negligence against Dorrough, Littlejohn, and the District
Now that Plaintiff has filed an Amended Complaint limited to these counts, Defendants
Dorrough, Littlejohn, and the District have submitted a renewed Motion to Dismiss that pertains
solely to Count V.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must dismiss a claim for relief
when the complaint “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” In evaluating a
motion to dismiss, the Court must “treat the complaint’s factual allegations as true and must
grant plaintiff the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged.” Sparrow
v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (citation and internal quotation
marks omitted); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A court need not accept as
true, however, “a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation,” nor an inference unsupported
by the facts set forth in the complaint. Trudeau v. FTC, 456 F.3d 178, 193 (D.C. Cir. 2006)
(quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). 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), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, [if] accepted as true, to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal quotation
omitted). A plaintiff may survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion even if “recovery is very remote and
unlikely,” but the facts alleged in the complaint “must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56 (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232,
Count V, as amended, advances a negligence cause of action against Littlejohn,
Dorrough, and the District. Plaintiff’s claim against the two officers is based on “their failure to
exercise reasonable care as police officers in . . . [the] gathering of all witness statements,
including those with exculpatory evidence in their possession[,] and disclosing [them] to the
prosecutor at papering.” Am. Compl., ¶ 61. His claim against the District relies on its failure to
properly train and supervise its officers in several specific areas. See id., ¶¶ 59-60. In moving to
dismiss this count, Dorrough and Littlejohn contend that they are absolutely immune from suit
for their decisions about when to disclose witness statements to the prosecution. See Mot. at 4-8.
The District, for its part, argues that Kenley did not offer “sufficient factual enhancement” to
state a negligent-training-and-supervision claim against it. See id. at 8-11. The Court will
address these issues in turn.
A. Dorrough and Littlejohn
Dorrough and Littlejohn previously argued that the negligence claims against them
should be dismissed because they are entitled to absolute immunity for their actions in
conducting criminal investigations. See Dorrough Opp. to Pl.’s Mot. to Am., ECF No. 32, at 11-
12; Littlejohn Opp. to Pl.’s Mot. to Am., ECF No. 31, at 10. Although the Court expressed
doubts “that decisions about whether to share exculpatory evidence with the prosecution are the
sort of discretionary activities to which absolute immunity should attach,” it declined to
definitively rule on the issue because the parties had addressed the complex matter in extremely
cursory fashion. See Kenley, 2015 WL 1138274, at *15. Having augmented their submissions,
Defendants now ask the Court to reconsider the issue. Because the conduct complained of
differs for Dorrough and Littlejohn, the Court will analyze their immunity defenses separately.
As noted above, Plaintiff alleges that Dorrough canvassed the scene for witnesses to the
purported assault on Shaatal and obtained at least one statement on a PD Form 119 that cast
substantial doubt on Shaatal’s version of events. See Am. Compl., ¶ 21. He also alleges that
Dorrough, as the supervising officer, was required to provide this statement to the prosecution
during the “papering” process, but that he failed to turn it over for more than a month. See id.,
¶¶ 22-23, 25. Because the statement ultimately was provided to the prosecution, Dorrough
argues that the immunity question should center not on his decision about whether to turn over
exculpatory evidence, but rather on his decision about when to turn it over. Yet, even framed in
this manner, he is out of luck.
“The law recognizes the doctrine of absolute immunity in order to serve the public
interest in effective government.” District of Columbia v. Jones, 919 A.2d 604, 607 (D.C. 2007).
Under District of Columbia law, an official may have absolute immunity from suit where “(1)
the official acted within the outer perimeter of his official duties, and (2) the particular
government function at issue was discretionary as opposed to ministerial.” Minch v. District of
Columbia, 952 A.2d 929, 939 (D.C. 2008) (quoting Moss v. Stockard, 580 A.2d 1011, 1020
(D.C. 1990)) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted). The Court previously concluded
that conveying evidence to a prosecutor easily falls within an officer’s core duties. See Kenley,
2015 WL 1138274, at *14. The more difficult question is whether decisions about the timing of
doing so are discretionary or ministerial in nature.
The inquiry into discretionary versus ministerial functions “seeks to ascertain whether the
governmental action at issue allows significant enough application of choice to justify official
immunity, in order to assure fearless, vigorous, and effective decisionmaking.” Moss, 580 A.2d
at 1020 (quoting District of Columbia v. Thompson, 570 A.2d 277, 297 (D.C. 1990)) (internal
quotation marks omitted). In essence, courts are required to decide “whether society’s concern
to shield the particular government function at issue from the disruptive effects of civil litigation
requires subordinating the vindication of private injuries otherwise compensable at law.” Id. at
1021. The D.C. Court of Appeals has articulated four policy factors to aid courts in balancing
these competing interests, including: “(1) the nature of the injury, (2) the availability of
alternative remedies, (3) the ability of the courts to judge fault without unduly invading the
executive’s function, and (4) the importance of protecting particular kinds of acts.” Id. (citing
Thompson, 570 A.2d at 297). “This list,” however, “is not exclusive,” and “a court may use
other factors it deems relevant.” Jones, 919 A.2d at 609 (citations omitted). In the end, “the
scope of immunity should be no broader than necessary to ensure effective governance.” Id.
(quoting Moss, 580 A.2d at 1021) (internal quotations marks and citation omitted).
After further consideration, the Court believes that Dorrough is not entitled to absolute
immunity for his alleged actions here. Putting the four factors to the side for a moment, it seems
clear that decisions about whether and when to turn over witness statements on PD Forms 119 do
not require significant discretion. MPD General Order 701.03, which governs the procedures for
responding to incidents involving assaults on police officers, states that certain officers “shall be
present during the papering process” and that they “shall” present all PD Forms 119 at that time.
See Reply, Exh. 1 (MPD General Order 701.03(V)(E)). The order also states that the official
authorizing the charge – which appears to be Dorrough in this case – “shall [e]nsure
compliance with the provisions of this order.” MPD General Order 701.03(V)(F)(1). This
regulation leaves little room for choice. Officers who obtain such statements and those who
supervise them are not directed to weigh competing policy factors to arrive at a decision; they
are, instead, told rather precisely what to do. See Nealon v. District of Columbia, 669 A.2d 685,
690 (D.C. 1995) (“Generally, discretionary acts involve the formulation of policy, while
ministerial acts involve the execution of policy.”). And although Defendants suggest in their
Reply that Dorrough “turned the administrative investigation over to Officer Shaatal’s
supervisor” and thus had no responsibilities related to the papering of this case, Reply at 3, the
Court is confined to rely at this time on the allegations in the Amended Complaint.
In their Reply, Defendants stress that this MPD general order is not a “regulation” and
that compliance with such orders is not mandatory; instead, they only “provide officials with
guidance on how they should perform those duties which are mandated by statute or regulation.”
Reply at 2 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). They also argue that “Plaintiff points
to no statutes or regulations that mandate how criminal investigations should be conducted,” and
that this “points to the conclusion that the conduct of criminal investigations is left to the
discretion of the police.” Mot. at 5. Defendants offer no supporting authority, however, for the
proposition that whether an act is ministerial or discretionary begins and ends with whether there
is a statute or regulation on point. In fact, it seems clear from prior cases addressing such
questions that the existence of a regulation or statute is not the key inquiry. The pertinent
question is, instead, whether the function requires significant application of choice, thus
necessitating absolute protection from suit to ensure its fearless discharge. The general order
demonstrates that, even if not an absolute rule, MPD has provided clear guidance to officers
handling PD Forms 119, and such guidance does not require officers to weigh various competing
interests. See Cooke-Seals v. District of Columbia, 973 F. Supp. 184, 189 (D.D.C. 1997)
(“Activity that is constrained by regulations or clearly established policy or standards is
ministerial in nature. . . . If, as plaintiff alleges, MPD had established policies prohibiting the
disclosure of confidential information, or had, in fact, directed plaintiff’s supervisors not to
disclose such information, then plaintiff’s supervisors were ‘required only to perform the
ministerial function of carrying out that decision.’”) (citing Briscoe v. Arlington Co., 738 F.2d
1352, 1363 (D.C. Cir. 1984), and quoting Durso v. Taylor, 624 A.2d 449, 459 (D.C. 1993)).
Balancing the factors laid out in Thompson further suggests that Dorrough’s handling of
the PD Form 119 should not be absolutely protected. The first and second – the nature of the
injury and the availability of alternative remedies – admittedly weigh in favor of immunity. The
injuries attributable to Dorrough’s conduct – i.e., damage to Kenley’s professional reputation,
loss of income, and emotional distress – are principally economic injuries. See District of
Columbia v. Simpkins, 720 A.2d 894, 898 (D.C. 1998) (stating that to extent alleged injuries are
economic, rather than physical, first factor arguably cuts in favor of immunity); Jones, 919 A.2d
at 609 (same). He may also be able to recover for these injuries through his other tort claims.
Factors three and four, however, counsel strongly against conferring absolute immunity here.
With regard to the third – the ability of courts to judge fault without unduly disrupting the
executive’s function – the Court believes that inquiring into the propriety of Dorrough’s conduct
would not be particularly intrusive. Determining facts such as whether there was a witness
statement on a PD Form 119 and when and under what circumstances that statement was turned
over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office hardly calls for extensive inquiry. And while the D.C. Court
of Appeals has made clear that absolute immunity is not limited to high-ranking officials, see
Moss, 580 A.2d at 1020, Dorrough stands in a markedly different position from, say, the Mayor
or Chief of Police when it comes to the potential to disrupt executive functions. See, e.g., Jones,
919 A.2d at 610 (holding mayor absolutely immune from suit regarding statements made to press
about discharge of employee). Dorrough thus fails to persuade the Court that allowing this claim
to move forward will result in undue interference.
Turning to the fourth factor – the importance of protecting particular kinds of acts – the
Court believes that decisions about when to disclose PD Forms 119 in assault-on-police cases do
not merit absolute protection. This is particularly so where the witness statements, as here,
contain clearly exculpatory information. For one thing, declining to provide full immunity will
not deter conduct that society has a strong interest in protecting; if anything, the reverse is true –
police officers should be encouraged to turn over exculpatory material as soon as possible. Such
conduct also appears markedly different from the type that has been given absolute immunity,
such as making statements to the public about ongoing police investigations. See, e.g., Liser v.
Smith, 254 F. Supp. 2d 89, 101 (D.D.C. 2003). In those cases, courts have recognized that
although such statements can defame individuals, there is a strong interest in enabling the police
to keep the public informed about the status of their investigations and to seek the public’s help
in apprehending suspects without fear of liability. See, e.g., id.; Kendrick v. Fox Television, 659
A.2d 814, 820 (D.C. 1995) see also Jones, 919 A.2d at 610 (granting mayor absolute immunity
in defamation suit for public statements about former employee, in part, because “society has a
strong interest in protecting the ability and willingness of officials to keep the public informed
about their own conduct and the conduct of persons under their supervision”). In contrast, there
is no clear interest in keeping prosecutors in the dark as they decide whether to bring charges.
Inquiring into such conduct, furthermore, does not threaten to encroach upon executive policy
decisions. This factor, then, also tips against providing absolute protection.
In their Motion, Defendants cite to two D.C. Circuit decisions in support of Dorrough’s
claim to immunity, albeit with little explanation and to little avail. In Gray v. Bell, 712 F.2d 490
(D.C. Cir. 1983), the court addressed the scope of the discretionary-function exception under the
Federal Tort Claims Act. It ultimately ruled that where prosecutors’ investigative activities
cannot be disassociated from the clearly discretionary decision to prosecute, such activities fall
within the exception. See id. at 515-16. It also concluded, in language antithetical to Dorrough’s
position, that in cases where prosecutors’ investigatory actions are “removed sufficiently from
the decision to prosecute[,] . . . the discretionary function clause would not provide any
protection.” Id. at 515 (emphasis added). Here, Dorrough plainly had a duty to ensure the
disclosure of PD Forms 119, irrespective of discretionary decisions regarding, e.g., whether to
initiate a criminal investigation or prosecution.
The other case, Murphy v. United States, 64 F. App’x 250 (D.C. Cir. 2003), is similarly
unhelpful to his cause. There, in an unpublished decision, the panel affirmed the lower court’s
ruling that “the decision . . . to open a special investigation” – which “‘involves elements of
judgment and choice’” – “falls within the discretionary function exception” to the FTCA. Id. at
250. Here, by contrast, Dorrough’s decision on when to turn over the statement had nothing to
do with the initiation of an investigation.
In the end, “[t]he provision of immunity rests on the view that the threat of liability will
make . . . officials unduly timid in carrying out their official duties . . . .” Jones, 919 A.2d at 607
(quoting Westfall v. Erwin, 484 U.S. 292, 295 (1988)). The Court does not believe that
providing absolute immunity for the dilatory turning over of exculpatory PD Forms 119 in
assault-on-police cases is necessary to assure “fearless, vigorous, and effective decisionmaking.”
Moss, 580 A.2d at 1020 (quoting Thompson, 570 A.2d at 297). It will, accordingly, allow
Kenley to proceed with his negligence claim against Dorrough.
Littlejohn’s alleged negligence is somewhat different. Kenley does not claim that he
possessed or even had knowledge of the exculpatory witness statement on PD Form 119. Rather,
Plaintiff complains that Littlejohn “did not hear him say to the dog ‘get him, sic him,’” and that
he failed to promptly disclose this fact to the prosecution. See Am. Compl., ¶ 19. Although this
accusation may be susceptible to differing interpretations, the Court must construe it in the light
most favorable to Plaintiff at this stage of the litigation. In doing so, it views Kenley’s claim as
broader than simply alleging that Littlejohn failed to vet his colleagues’ paperwork to ensure that
he fully agreed with their recounting of the events that had transpired. It construes it, instead, as
alleging that Littlejohn knew Kenley had been falsely arrested and that he did not promptly
disclose this fact. See Opp. at 3 (“Defendant Littlejohn was in a position to know of the false
police report and false arrest and had a duty to disclose this information to the prosecutor . . . .”).
Viewing the allegation in this more expansive way, Littlejohn is not entitled to absolute
immunity. Although Plaintiff has not directed the Court to any statute, regulation, or other
policy governing the disclosure of such information, one could hardly argue that decisions about
whether to disclose a plainly false arrest to the prosecution require significant application of
discretion. The Thompson factors, moreover, again weigh against immunity. Although the first
and second still tip in Defendant’s favor, the third and fourth again do not. Determining whether
Littlejohn was aware of the false arrest and whether he disclosed this to the U.S. Attorney’s
Office would not cause significant disruption to executive functions. Plaintiff, after all, has also
alleged that he was part of a conspiracy to falsely arrest Kenley, and the discovery related to that
claim will be nearly co-extensive with the discovery required for this cause of action. The Court,
furthermore, cannot discern any societal interest in protecting decisions to withhold such
information. In fact, quite the opposite: police officers should be encouraged to promptly relay
information about false arrests to prosecuting officials. Such decisions, furthermore, simply do
not require difficult trade-offs, and inquiring into this area would not risk usurping the
executive’s discretion. The negligence claim against Littlejohn will thus be permitted to go
B. The District
Count V of the Amended Complaint also asserts that the District was negligent because it
failed to adequately train and supervise its officers in two ways. The City previously moved to
dismiss this claim on the grounds that it would be prejudicial and was unnecessary given that it
had conceded its potential negligence liability under the doctrine of respondeat superior. The
Court rejected the argument, ruling that Plaintiff should be allowed to proceed with both theories
for the time being. See Kenley I, 2015 WL 1138274, at *17-18. Now that Kenley has filed an
Amended Complaint, the District raises a new basis for dismissing the claim – viz., that Kenley
has not sufficiently pled it. On this point, the City finds greater success.
To show that an employer was negligent in its training and supervision, “a plaintiff must
show: that the employer ‘knew or should have known its employee behaved in a dangerous or
otherwise incompetent manner, and that the employer, armed with that actual or constructive
knowledge, failed to adequately supervise the employee.’” Phelan v. City of Mount Rainier, 805
A.2d 930, 937-38 (D.C. 2002) (quoting Giles v. Shell Oil Corp., 487 A.2d 610, 613 (D.C.
1985)); see also, e.g., Rawlings v. District of Columbia, 820 F. Supp. 2d 92, 114-16 (D.D.C.
2011). Despite Plaintiff’s attempt to broaden the bases for this cause of action in his Opposition,
see Opp. at 12, the Court limits its analysis to the allegations in his Amended Complaint. There,
Plaintiff asserts that there are two areas in which the District’s training and supervision was
lacking: 1) it failed to train and supervise all of its officers regarding the rights of citizens to
record the police, and 2) it failed generally to train and supervise Shaatal, despite his history of
misconduct. The Court examines these in turn.
As to the first, Kenley asserts, “[o]n information and belief,” that “prior to July 2012[,]
the District of Columbia had a policy and practice of police officers seizing cameras from
citizens video taping police arrests in public places and threatening or arresting citizens who
failed to stop recording and move away or be arrested.” Am. Compl., ¶ 30. Yet he also asserts
that the District changed this policy almost a year before the incident involved in this suit.
Specifically, he has alleged that “[o]n July 19, 2012[,] MPD General Order 304-19 titled ‘Video
Recording, Photographing, and Audio Recording of Metropolitan Police Department Members
by the Public’ was issued following [the] settlement of a lawsuit alleging . . . MPD [p]ractices
violated the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights of citizen’s [sic] and bystanders,”
id., ¶ 31, and that this order prohibited the sort of conduct alleged here. See id., ¶¶ 32-33. He
does not assert that this order was somehow unclear or inadequate. Nor does he allege that, after
the issuance of this policy, there were incidents that would have put the District on actual or
constructive notice that its training and supervision in this area was lacking. In the absence of
such allegations, the Court cannot conclude that Kenley has stated a plausible claim to relief.
As to the second basis for the claim, Kenley’s allegations pertaining to Shaatal’s history
of “misconduct” are not enough for the claim to pass muster. The Amended Complaint states
only very generally that, “[o]n information and belief, Officer Shaatal had a prior history of
police misconduct,” Am. Compl., ¶ 27, and that there were “prior complaints” against him. Id., ¶
60. He does not allege that the misconduct or complaints related in any way to the behavior
challenged here. The District’s actual or constructive knowledge of unrelated wrongdoing –
such as tardiness or being disrespectful – could not put it on notice that its training and
supervision was deficient with regard to, e.g., fabricating crimes and falsely arresting people. Its
failure to provide additional training or supervision for unrelated conduct also could not have
proximately caused Plaintiff’s alleged injuries. The Court thus believes that, absent any
allegation that Shaatal’s past behavior should have put the District on notice of the type of
improper conduct here, Kenley’s Amended Complaint is insufficient.
The Court will, consequently, dismiss the negligent-training-and-supervision claim
against the District. See, e.g., Brown v. Sessoms, 774 F.3d 1016, 1025 (D.C. Cir. 2014)
(dismissing negligent-supervision claim because, even assuming the employees violated
protocol, the “complaint contain[ed] no facts from which it [could] be inferred that the Board
‘knew or should have known’ that [the employees] would not follow protocol”); Harvey v.
Kasco, No. 14-1571, 2015 WL 3777362, at *4 (D.D.C. June 17, 2015) (dismissing negligenttraining-and-supervision claim because plaintiff “ha[d] not pled any facts regarding the District
of Columbia’s knowledge that one of its officers would allegedly use excessive force in
effectuating an unjustified arrest in a single incident, or that other officers would fail to
intercede”); Stevens v. Sodexo, Inc., 846 F. Supp. 2d 119, 127-28 (D.D.C. 2012).
Of course, that does not mean that the District is completely off the hook with regard to
negligence liability. As discussed above, Plaintiff can proceed with his negligence claim against
Dorrough and Littlejohn, and he has alleged that the District is vicariously liable under the
doctrine of respondeat superior. If he prevails against the officers, the District could still be held
responsible for negligence.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court will grant Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss in part and
deny it in part. A contemporaneous Order will so state.
/s/ James E. Boasberg
JAMES E. BOASBERG
United States District Judge
Date: July 13, 2015
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