HOLT v. WALSH GROUP, et al.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER denying, without prejudice, 9 defendant Walsh Group's Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Summary Judgment. Set/Reset Deadlines: Plaintiff's Amended Complaint due by 9/15/2017. Defendants' Response due by 9/29/17. Initial Scheduling Conference set for October 18, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. Signed by Judge Ellen S. Huvelle on September 6, 2017. (lcesh1, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Civil Action No. 17-1173 (ESH)
THE WALSH GROUP, et al.,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Before the Court is defendant Walsh Group’s motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for
summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 56. For the
reasons that follow, defendant Walsh Group’s motion is denied without prejudice, and plaintiff is
granted leave to amend his complaint.
Plaintiff Cecil Holt was injured while working as a construction worker on the roof of
402 Tingey Street, SE in Washington DC (hereinafter, “the Premises”). (Pl.’s Compl. ¶¶ 8, 15.)
On April 14, 2017, plaintiff brought suit in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia against
Walsh Group, the owner of the Premises, and various subcontractors performing work there.
(Pl.’s Compl. ¶¶ 2–7.) Defendants removed the case to federal court based on diversity
jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
Defendant Walsh Group then filed this motion arguing that plaintiff erroneously named
Walsh Group as the supervisor of the construction site on the Premises when Walsh Construction
Co. II, LLC (hereinafter “Walsh Construction”) was actually responsible for supervising the
construction site. Plaintiff counters that (1) defendant Walsh Group was involved in or
responsible for the Premises, (2) a motion to dismiss would be premature because plaintiff
requires additional discovery to determine which Walsh entity had control over the Premises and
the relationship between defendant Walsh Group and Walsh Construction, and (3) plaintiff
should be granted leave to amend his complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 if
Walsh Construction is indeed the proper defendant.
“To 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) (citation omitted). “A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded
factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for
the misconduct alleged.” Id. “In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court may consider not only
the facts alleged in the complaint, but also documents attached to or incorporated by reference in
the complaint and documents attached to a motion to dismiss for which no party contests
authenticity.” Demissie v. Starbucks Corp. Office & Headquarters, 19 F. Supp. 3d 321, 324
(D.D.C. 2014); see also Kaempe v. Myers, 367 F.3d 958, 965 (D.C. Cir. 2004).
To succeed on a motion for summary judgment, defendant must demonstrate 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). A genuine dispute as to a material fact 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). This Court is generally reluctant to grant summary
judgment when the parties have not had a full and fair opportunity to conduct discovery.
See Convertino v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 684 F.3d 93, 99 (D.C. Cir. 2012); Taylor v. FDIC, 132
F.3d 753, 765–66 (D.C. Cir. 1997); see also Baker v. Henderson, 150 F. Supp. 2d 13, 16 (D.D.C.
Defendant Walsh Group is a holding group that claims to own no shares in Walsh
Construction, and to have never held itself out as Walsh Construction’s agent. (Glimco Decl.
¶¶ 6–8.) However, Walsh Group shares an address, telephone number, and fax number with
Walsh Construction. (Pl.’s Exs. 3–6; Glimco Decl. ¶¶ 4–5.) Plaintiff has also provided an
affidavit swearing that he observed “numerous signs on the work site identifying Walsh as the
general contractor” and spoke with several Walsh employees both on and off the Premises.
(Pl.’s Ex. 2.)
After reviewing plaintiffs’ complaint and the attached and incorporated documents that
the Court may consider at this stage, this Court denies the motion to dismiss; plaintiff has stated
a facially plausible negligence claim against defendant Walsh Group. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
This Court also denies the motion for summary judgment because material facts remain
regarding (1) defendant Walsh Group’s control over the Premises and (2) defendant Walsh
Group’s relationship with Walsh Construction. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
In addition, this Court grants plaintiff leave to amend his complaint to add Walsh
Construction as a party. Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2); Canuto v. Mattis, No. CV 16-2282 (EGS),
2017 WL 3437662, at *4 (D.D.C. Aug. 10, 2017); Johnson v. Veterans Affairs Med. Ctr., 133 F.
Supp. 3d 10, 13 (D.D.C. 2015).
For the reasons stated above, it is hereby
ORDERED that defendant’s motion to dismiss/motion for summary judgment
IS DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE; it is further
ORDERED that plaintiff is given leave to file an amended complaint on or before
September 15, 2017; it is further
ORDERED that defendants shall file their responsive pleading, as required by Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 15, on or before September 29, 2017; and it is further
ORDERED that an initial scheduling conference is set for October 18, 2017, at 11:00
/s/ Ellen Segal Huvelle
ELLEN SEGAL HUVELLE
United States District Judge
Date: September 6, 2017
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