JOHNSON v. PARAGON SYSTEMS, INC.
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on September 27, 2017. (lcegs2)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
PARAGON SYSTEMS, INC., et al.,
Pending before the Court is defendant Paragon Systems,
Inc.'s ("Paragon") motion for summary judgment. For the reasons
articulated below, the Court GRANTS Paragon's motion.
On October 24, 2012, plaintiff Dennis Johnson arrived at an
Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") facility and entered
the building with a loaded handgun in his briefcase. Am. Compl.
¶ 10, ECF No. 12. As a retired federal law enforcement officer,
Mr. Johnson asserts that he is entitled to carry a firearm on
federal property at any time. Id. ¶ 10.
Nonetheless – perhaps because Mr. Johnson inadvertently
entered the ICE facility through the visitors' entrance and not
the employees' entrance – Mr. Johnson was immediately detained
by security guards allegedly employed by Paragon. Id. ¶¶ 10-13.
According to Mr. Johnson, even though he promptly displayed his
law-enforcement badge to the security guards, and even though
the security guards were allegedly notified that Mr. Johnson was
entitled to bring his weapon into the building, the security
guards "handcuffed Plaintiff for over two hours." Id. ¶¶ 13-15.
Mr. Johnson further alleges that Christopher Adams – a
Federal Protective Service employee who supposedly supervised
"either a Paragon Systems employee or MVM employee" – threatened
to initiate criminal proceedings against Mr. Johnson "for
entering the ICE facility with a loaded handgun." Id. ¶¶ 16-17.
Mr. Adams purportedly continued to threaten Mr. Johnson with
legal action for a period of over two months. Id.
Based on these allegations, Mr. Johnson filed suit on
October 31, 2015 against Paragon. See Compl., ECF No. 1. In that
complaint, Mr. Johnson asserted four causes of action: (1) a
"civil rights violation"; (2) assault and battery; (3)
intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (4) common-law
negligence. Id. ¶¶ 18-35. On July 1, 2016, the Court granted
Paragon's partial motion to dismiss, dismissing Mr. Johnson's
claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress after
concluding that Mr. Johnson had failed to sufficiently allege
that his injury resulted from "extreme and outrageous conduct."
See Johnson v. Paragon Sys., Inc., 195 F. Supp. 3d 96 (D.D.C.
Following the dismissal, Mr. Johnson filed an amended
complaint adding MVM Inc., Federal Protective Services, and
Christopher Adams as co-defendants. See Am. Compl., ECF No. 12
(filed October 21, 2016). Paragon timely answered the complaint
and, on January 13, 2017, filed this motion for summary
judgment. See Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. ("Def.'s Mot."), ECF No. 18.
In support of its motion, Paragon states that, at the time of
Mr. Johnson's encounter with the security guards at the ICE
facility, it "did not have a contract to provide security
services" at the site. See Def.'s Statement of Undisputed
Material Facts ("SUMF") ¶¶ 2-3, ECF No. 18-1. To that end,
Paragon maintains that none of its employees, agents, or
representatives were "involved, in any way, with the alleged
occurrence" described in Mr. Johnson's amended complaint. Id. ¶¶
At his deposition, Mr. Johnson essentially conceded as
much, testifying that he had no knowledge with respect to
Paragon's involvement in the incident at the ICE facility:
Q: Do you have any understanding of what role Paragon
Systems, Inc. played in regard to the incident?
A: I do not.
Q: Do you have an understanding [as to] why they were
named as a Defendant in this case?
A: I don't.
Deposition of Dennis Johnson 70:12-18, Def.'s Mot. Ex. 4, ECF
No. 18-2. Later, Mr. Johnson testified:
Q: Do you have any information, other than what you
might have learned from your attorney, to support a
belief that Paragon Systems had a contract to
provide security at the location where the incident
A: I don't.
Paragon asserts that Mr. Johnson's testimony, along with
other record evidence, makes clear that Mr. Johnson "has
mistakenly and improperly included Paragon as a party-defendant
in this litigation." See Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ.
J. ("Def.'s Mem.") at 7. Indeed, Paragon avers that it did not
provide any security services for the ICE facility until October
2013 – nearly a year after the alleged incident. SUMF ¶¶ 4-5,
10-14. Furthermore, Paragon states that it has no relationship,
contractual or otherwise, with any of the other defendants in
this litigation. Id. ¶¶ 6-9.
On March 9, 2017, the Court issued a Minute Order directing
Mr. Johnson to file a response to Paragon's summary judgment
motion by no later than March 23, 2017, cautioning Mr. Johnson
that, if he failed to respond by that date, the "Court may
consider the facts provided in defendant's motion as undisputed
for purposes of summary judgment." See Minute Order, Mar. 9,
2017. To date, Mr. Johnson, who is represented by counsel, has
not responded to Paragon's motion.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment
should be granted "if the movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); Waterhouse
v. District of Columbia, 298 F.3d 989, 991 (D.C. Cir. 2002). The
moving party must identify "those portions of the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,
together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact."
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
Once the moving party has met its burden, the non-moving
party must come forward with specific facts that would present a
genuine issue for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). A genuine dispute exists
if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Any inferences drawn on the
facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. A party asserting
that a fact is "genuinely disputed" must support that assertion
by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record" or
"showing that the materials cited [by the opposing party] do not
establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute." Fed. R. Civ.
P. 56(c)(1). "If a party . . . fails to properly address another
party's assertion of fact," the court may "consider the fact
undisputed for purposes of the motion." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e);
see also Local Civ. R. 7(h).
Mr. Johnson has three remaining causes of action.
Mr. Johnson's first cause of action is styled as a "Civil
Rights Violation" based on an alleged infringement of Mr.
Johnson's Fourth Amendment rights. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 18-25. He
alleges that defendants' "acts of limiting plaintiff's personal
liberty for over 2 hours and then threatening to initiate
criminal proceedings against the Plaintiff" violated his
constitutional rights. Am. Compl. ¶ 25. In particular, Mr.
Johnson claims that Paragon violated his constitutional rights
by "fail[ing] to properly train [and adequately supervise] it's
[sic] security staff," by failing to create a policy limiting
the detainment of "suspicious people" to a "reasonable amount of
time after the person is deemed not to be a threat," and
"through [its] indifference to the safety health and welfare of
the public and plaintiff in particular." Id. ¶¶ 20-24.
Mr. Johnson's second and third causes of action are for the
common-law torts of assault and battery and negligence. Id. ¶¶
26-35. Mr. Johnson alleges that Paragon's security guards
"assaulted" him by handcuffing him and threatening to file
"frivolous" criminal charges against him. Id. ¶ 27. Mr. Johnson
further contends Paragon and its employees owed him a duty of
care to properly screen and not detain visitors to ICE
facilities. Id. ¶ 33. Mr. Johnson alleges that Paragon breached
that duty by handcuffing him for over two hours and then
threatening criminal proceeding against him for over two months.
Id. ¶ 34.
Paragon contends that all of Mr. Johnson's remaining claims
fail because, at bottom, they require Mr. Johnson to demonstrate
that Paragon took some action that injured him. See Def.'s Mem.
at 6 ("Plaintiff's Civil Rights Violation claim is founded upon
his belief that his . . . [r]ights were violated by the security
staff that allegedly improperly detained his person and seized
his firearm."); id. ("An actionable battery claim requires that
[a plaintiff] demonstrate 'an intentional act that cases a
harmful or offensive bodily contact.'"); id. at 7 (to succeed on
his claim for negligence, plaintiff must prove, inter alia,
"that [defendant's] violation of [the standard of care] was the
proximate cause of the alleged injuries"). According to Paragon,
because Mr. Johnson has not been able to "factually
substantiate" any of his claims through discovery, Paragon is
entitled to summary judgment. Def.'s Mem. at 6-7.
The Court agrees with Paragon. Mr. Johnson does not point
to any evidence in the record suggesting that Paragon
participated in or was responsible for any conduct that
allegedly injured him. To the contrary, Mr. Johnson admits that
he was handcuffed and detained by employees of MVM, Inc. and
Federal Protective Service – and not by Paragon or its
employees. Def.'s Mot Ex. 3, Pl.'s Interrog. Resp. ¶¶ 22, 43,
ECF No. 18-2; see also SUMF ¶ 15 ("Plaintiff concedes that a MVM
security officer and supervisor, as well as an FPS officer, were
present during the subject occurrence and not anyone affiliated
with Paragon."); id. ¶ 16 ("Plaintiff fails to identify Paragon
in any of his written discovery responses as an entity having
anything to do with the subject occurrence."); id. ¶ 17 (in his
deposition, plaintiff testified "that MVM, and not Paragon,
employed the security guards that were involved in the incident
and that FPS employees, including Adams, eventually appeared at
the scene"). Furthermore, in an unrebutted affidavit, Paragon's
Vice President and General Counsel avers that "[n]o employee,
agent or representative of Paragon was present at the site of
the alleged occurrence on October 24, 2012" because Paragon did
not enter into a contract to provide security services for that
ICE facility until October 2013. Def.'s Mot. Ex. 2, Affidavit of
Laura Hagan, ECF No. 18-2.
Based on this record, no "reasonable jury" could return a
verdict for Mr. Johnson. Other courts are in accord. See, e,g.,
Edwards v. Okie Dokie, Inc., 473 F. Supp. 2d 31, 41 (D.D.C.
2007) (plaintiffs' claims based on alleged violations of their
constitutional rights failed where they conceded that they "were
arrested by MPD officers" and not by defendant); Bradshaw v.
Oberg, 690 F. Supp. 31, 34-35 (D.D.C. 1988) (summary judgement
in favor of defendant warranted where plaintiff admitted in a
deposition "that she did not know whether defendant Oberg
ordered" the allegedly unconstitutional search); Zhi Chen v.
District of Columbia, 808 F. Supp. 2d 252, 258 (D.D.C. 2011)
(granting summary judgment to defendant on plaintiff's assaultand-battery claim where plaintiff "fail[ed] to point to any
record evidence indicating that [defendant] ever attempted or
threatened to harm [plaintiff] physically"); Caldwell v. Caesar,
150 F. Supp. 2d 50, 66 (D.D.C. 2001) (granting defendant summary
judgment on negligence claim where "there [wa]s no evidence that
[the defendant] was involved" in the conduct at issue in the
In short, there is no genuine dispute of material fact with
respect to Paragon's conduct – or, rather, lack thereof – in
connection with the incident at the center of Mr. Johnson's
complaint. Accordingly, Paragon's motion for summary judgment on
Mr. Johnson's remaining claims is GRANTED.
On the record before the Court, it appears that this
lawsuit against Paragon was ill-conceived and a waste of this
Court's time and resources. Accordingly, the Court orders
plaintiff Dennis Johnson and his attorney Kevin Jesse McCants to
show cause, by no later than October 30, 2017, why sanctions,
including significant monetary sanctions, should not be imposed
against them both pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
11(b) and why Mr. Mccants should not be referred to the
Committee on Grievances of the United States District Court for
the District of Columbia for any investigation or proceedings
that the Committee may deem appropriate.
A separate Order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.
Emmet G. Sullivan
United States District Judge
September 27, 2017
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