Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Johnson, Civil Action Nos. 99-2945 (RMU), 00-0566(RMU).

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
Writing for the CourtUrbina
Citation276 F.Supp.2d 79
Decision Date04 August 2003
Docket NumberCivil Action Nos. 99-2945 (RMU), 00-0566(RMU).
PartiesCHAPLAINCY OF FULL GOSPEL CHURCHES, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Hansford T. JOHNSON, Acting Secretary of the Navy, et al., Defendants. Robert H. Adair, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Hansford T. Johnson, Acting Secretary of the Navy, et al., Defendants.
276 F.Supp.2d 79
CHAPLAINCY OF FULL GOSPEL CHURCHES, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Hansford T. JOHNSON, Acting Secretary of the Navy, et al., Defendants.
Robert H. Adair, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Hansford T. Johnson, Acting Secretary of the Navy, et al., Defendants.
Civil Action Nos. 99-2945 (RMU), 00-0566(RMU).
United States District Court, District of Columbia.
August 4, 2003.

Arthur A. Schulcz, Sr., Vienna, VA, for Plaintiffs.

Michael Quenten Hyde, U.S. Department of Justice, Thomas E. Caballero, the United States Senate, Washington, DC, for Defendants.

Page 80

MEMORANDUM ORDER

URBINA, District Judge.


DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE THE PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR DECLARATORY OR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

This class action comes before the court on the plaintiffs' motion for declaratory or partial summary judgment. The plaintiffs, current and former Navy chaplains, bring this suit against the Secretary of the Navy, other Navy officials, and the Navy alleging that the Navy's policies and practices — including the chaplain-selection process — favor certain religious denominations over others in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution.1

On May 15, 2003, the plaintiffs filed a motion for declaratory or partial summary judgment. They ask the court to find as a matter of law that alleged misconduct by the Navy's chaplain-selection boards qualifies as self-concealing fraud, and that as a result the statute of limitations is tolled for claims arising out of such misconduct and the defendants bear the burden of proving otherwise. Pls.' Mot. for Decl. or Partial Summ. J. ("Pls.' Mot.") at 1. On June 10, 2003, the defendants responded with a motion asking the court to hold the plaintiffs' motion in abeyance or, in the alternative, to continue consideration of the plaintiffs' motion until after the parties complete discovery. Defs.' Mot. to Hold Pls.' Mot. In Abeyance ("Defs.' Mot.") at 1-2.

According to the plaintiffs, summary judgment or declaratory relief would be helpful for two reasons. First, the plaintiffs anticipate that the defendants will raise a statute-of-limitations defense to the plaintiffs' claims. Pls.' Mot. at 2; Pls.' Opp'n at 1. To counter that defense, the plaintiffs have made clear that they plan to argue fraudulent concealment, which would equitably toll the statute of limitations. E.g., Pls.' Opp'n at 1. In the plaintiffs' view, summary judgment or declaratory relief as to whether the Navy's alleged misconduct qualifies as self-concealing fraud (a type of fraudulent concealment) would "enable the parties to effectively plan their litigation and discovery strategies." Pls.' Mot. at 2. Second, because the statute-of-limitations issue is implicated in two related motions, the plaintiffs argue that the requested relief would "facilitate resolution of major issues [in the two motions] now pending before the Court and hopefully speed . . . decisions [on those motions]." Id. at 1 (referring to the plaintiffs' motion to amend their first amended complaint and to the definition of the proposed class). Id. at 1.

The court concludes, however, that neither summary judgment nor declaratory relief is appropriate here.2 Summary

Page 81

judgment is merited when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R.CIV.P. 56(c); see...

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2 practice notes
  • Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. England, No. 05-5143.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 7, 2006
    ...116 (2005); Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Johnson, 276 F.Supp.2d 82 (D.D.C.2003); Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Johnson, 276 F.Supp.2d 79 (D.D.C.2003); Adair v. Johnson, 216 F.R.D. 183 (D.D.C. 2003); Adair v. England, 217 F.Supp.2d 7 (D.D.C.2002); Adair v. England, 209 F.R.D......
  • Larsen v. U.S. Navy, No. 02-2005 (RMU).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • November 18, 2004
    ...76 F.3d at 1209 (citing Richards, 662 F.2d at 73). Adair v. England, 183 F.Supp.2d 31, 54 (D.D.C.2002); see also Adair v. Johnson, 276 F.Supp.2d 79, 81 & n. 2 (D.D.C.2003). The court sees no reason to depart from this reasoning and accordingly denies without prejudice the defendants' motion......
2 cases
  • Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. England, No. 05-5143.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 7, 2006
    ...116 (2005); Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Johnson, 276 F.Supp.2d 82 (D.D.C.2003); Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Johnson, 276 F.Supp.2d 79 (D.D.C.2003); Adair v. Johnson, 216 F.R.D. 183 (D.D.C. 2003); Adair v. England, 217 F.Supp.2d 7 (D.D.C.2002); Adair v. England, 209 F.R.D......
  • Larsen v. U.S. Navy, No. 02-2005 (RMU).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • November 18, 2004
    ...76 F.3d at 1209 (citing Richards, 662 F.2d at 73). Adair v. England, 183 F.Supp.2d 31, 54 (D.D.C.2002); see also Adair v. Johnson, 276 F.Supp.2d 79, 81 & n. 2 (D.D.C.2003). The court sees no reason to depart from this reasoning and accordingly denies without prejudice the defendants' motion......

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