Fraternal Order Police v. Dist. of Columbia, Civil Action No. 20-2130 (JEB)

CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia
Writing for the CourtJAMES E. BOASBERG, United States District Judge
Citation502 F.Supp.3d 45
Parties FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE, METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT LABOR COMMITTEE, D.C. POLICE UNION, Plaintiff, v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date04 November 2020
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 20-2130 (JEB)

502 F.Supp.3d 45

FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE, METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT LABOR COMMITTEE, D.C. POLICE UNION, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants.

Civil Action No. 20-2130 (JEB)

United States District Court, District of Columbia.

Signed November 4, 2020


502 F.Supp.3d 50

Daniel J. McCartin, Conti International, LLC, Edison, NJ, Anthony Michael Conti, Conti Fenn LLC, Baltimore, MD, for Plaintiff.

Pamela A. Disney, Gavin Noyes Palmer, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Washington, DC, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES E. BOASBERG, United States District Judge

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis this past summer galvanized nationwide protests regarding police misconduct. It also precipitated debate in different cities about police accountability and potential avenues of reform. As part of this wave, the District of Columbia in July enacted the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Second Emergency

502 F.Supp.3d 51

Amendment Act of 2020. Section 116 of the Act reserves to the city all matters pertaining to the discipline of sworn law-enforcement personnel, thereby excluding such matters from negotiation in future collective-bargaining agreements. The Union that represents Metropolitan Police Department officers then filed this suit against the District of Columbia and Mayor Muriel Bowser, alleging that Section 116 violates the Equal Protection, Bill of Attainder, Contract, and Due Process Clauses of the Constitution as well as D.C.’s Home Rule Act. The Union now asks this Court for summary judgment on all claims, while the District cross-moves for dismissal or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Believing that the city has the better position here, the Court will dismiss the case.

I. Background

The Council of the District of Columbia passed the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Second Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 on an emergency basis, see ECF No. 3-4 (Act), in response to this summer's protests of "injustice, racism, and police brutality against Black people and other people of color." ECF No. 1 (Compl.), ¶ 8 (quoting Act at 2); see also ECF No. 9-1 (Def. MTD) at 34. Mayor Bowser signed the Act into law on July 22, 2020. See Compl., ¶ 7; Act at 1. Among the Act's wide-ranging reforms — from the prohibition on the use of neck restraints by law enforcement to the establishment of a Police Reform Commission, see Act at 2–3, 16–17 — is Section 116, which amends the "Management rights; matters subject to collective bargaining" section of the District's Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act, see D.C. Code § 1-617.08, by adding the following:

(c)(1) All matters pertaining to the discipline of sworn law enforcement personnel shall be retained by management and not be negotiable.

(2) This subsection shall apply to any collective bargaining agreements entered into with the Fraternal Order of Police/Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee after September 30, 2020.

Act at 12.

Prior to the enactment of Section 116, and since the passage of the CMPA in 1979, the Union had negotiated with the city collective-bargaining agreements governing, inter alia , the disciplinary procedures that apply to members of the Union. See Compl., ¶¶ 11, 14. Under the most recent CBA, effective through September 30, 2020, and automatically renewed for one-year periods thereafter, Article 12 covers issues of Discipline. See ECF No. 3-5 (CBA) at 1, 13, 41.

Plaintiff Fraternal Order of Police, Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee, D.C. Police Union filed its Complaint on August 5, 2020, alleging that Section 116 deprives its members of their rights under the Equal Protection, Bill of Attainder, Contract, and Due Process Clauses of the Constitution and violates D.C.’s Home Rule Act. See Compl. at 1; D.C. Code § 1-203.02. Bringing its constitutional claims via 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Union seeks declaratory and injunctive relief "[p]ermanently enjoining the approval, enactment and enforcement of Section 116 of the Act," id. at 9–12, 14–16, and has moved for summary judgment on all claims. See ECF No. 3-1 (Pl. MSJ). Opposing that Motion, the District filed a Cross-Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment. The parties’ Motions are now ripe for resolution.

II. Legal Standard

Because the Court dismisses all claims, it need only set forth that standard.

502 F.Supp.3d 52

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of an action where a complaint fails to "state a claim upon which relief can be granted." In evaluating Defendants’ 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) (quoting Schuler v. United States, 617 F.2d 605, 608 (D.C. Cir. 1979) ).

Although "detailed factual allegations" are not necessary to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007), "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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955 ). A court need not accept as true, then, "a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation," Trudeau v. FTC, 456 F.3d 178, 193 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286, 106 S.Ct. 2932, 92 L.Ed.2d 209 (1986) ), nor "inferences ... unsupported by the facts set out in the complaint." Id. (quoting Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994) ). For a plaintiff to survive a 12(b)(6) motion even if "recovery is very remote and unlikely," Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974) ), the facts alleged in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955. The Court may consider "the facts alleged in the complaint, any documents either attached to or incorporated in the complaint[,] and matters of which [courts] may take judicial notice." Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624 (D.C. Cir. 1997). Among other matters of public record, the Court here takes notice of the CBA and the Act, even though they are attached to Plaintiff's Motion rather than to its Complaint, as neither party questions their authenticity or admissibility.

III. Analysis

The Union alleges that Section 116's violations of the Constitution are actionable via 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides a remedy for the deprivation of such rights. DuBerry v. District of Columbia, 824 F.3d 1046, 1051 (D.C. Cir. 2016). It further contends that those same deprivations violate D.C.’s Home Rule Act. The Court thus considers each constitutional claim in turn and concludes with the Home Rule Act challenge.

A. Equal Protection

According to the Union, the Act violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments because it discriminatorily restricts the bargaining rights of sworn law-enforcement officers, but no other District employee or labor union, and lacks any rational connection to a legitimate government objective. See Compl., ¶¶ 17–24. The District, of course, contends otherwise. See Def. MTD at 11.

As set out in the Fourteenth Amendment, the equal-protection clause provides that "no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws," and it applies to the District via the Fifth Amendment. Women Prisoners of D.C. Dep't of Corr. v. D.C., 93 F.3d 910, 924 (D.C. Cir. 1996) ; see also Jo v. District of Columbia, 582 F. Supp. 2d 51, 60 (D.D.C. 2008) ( 42 U.S.C. § 1983 allows equal-protection claims against District).

502 F.Supp.3d 53

"To prevail on an equal-protection claim, the plaintiff must show that the government has treated it differently from a similarly situated party and that the government's explanation for the differing treatment ‘does not satisfy the relevant level of scrutiny.’ " Muwekma Ohlone Tribe v. Salazar, 708 F.3d 209, 215 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (quoting Settles v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 429 F.3d 1098, 1102 (D.C. Cir. 2005) ). Here, the parties agree that rational-basis review applies. See Compl., ¶ 23; Def. MTD at 14–20. Under that "highly deferential" standard, Dixon v. District of Columbia, 666 F.3d 1337, 1342 (D.C. Cir. 2011), courts afford legislative actions a "strong presumption of validity." Hedgepeth v. Wash. Metro. Area Transit Auth., 386 F.3d 1148, 1153, 1156 (D.C. Cir. 2004). The Act thus "must be upheld ... if there is any reasonably conceivable state of facts that could provide a rational basis for the classification." Cannon v. District of Columbia, 717 F.3d 200, 207 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (quoting Hettinga v. United States, 677 F.3d 471, 478–79 (D.C. Cir. 2012) ). The Union "bear[s] the burden of showing that the [Act] [was] ‘not a rational means of...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3 practice notes
  • Bldg. & Realty Inst. of Westchester & Putnam Cntys. v. New York, 19-CV-11285(KMK)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 14, 2021
    ...existing contract terms long since agreed to and performed by the parties."); see also Fraternal Ord. of Police v. District of Columbia, 502 F.Supp.3d 45, 59-60 (D.D.C. 2020) ("As to any future contracts, it is well established that that Contract Clause only concerns itself with laws that r......
  • Fraternal Order of Police v. Dist. of Columbia, 21-7059
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • August 19, 2022
    ...for failure to state a claim. Fraternal Ord. of Police, Metro. Police Dep't Lab. Comm., D.C. Police Union v. District of Columbia, 502 F.Supp.3d 45 (D.D.C. Nov. 4, 2020). The FOP then moved to alter the judgment so that it could amend its complaint. The district court denied the motion as f......
  • United States v. Harris, Criminal Action No. 19-358 (RC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • November 4, 2020
    ...the Forensic Firearms/Toolmarks Discipline—Pattern Matching Examination. See Govt. Opp'n, Ex. 4 ("DOJ ULTR"), ECF No. 28-4. The DOJ ULTR 502 F.Supp.3d 45 permits firearms examiners to conclude that casings were fired from the same firearm when all class characteristics are in agreement, and......
3 cases
  • Bldg. & Realty Inst. of Westchester & Putnam Cntys. v. New York, 19-CV-11285(KMK)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • September 14, 2021
    ...existing contract terms long since agreed to and performed by the parties."); see also Fraternal Ord. of Police v. District of Columbia, 502 F.Supp.3d 45, 59-60 (D.D.C. 2020) ("As to any future contracts, it is well established that that Contract Clause only concerns itself with laws that r......
  • Fraternal Order of Police v. Dist. of Columbia, 21-7059
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • August 19, 2022
    ...for failure to state a claim. Fraternal Ord. of Police, Metro. Police Dep't Lab. Comm., D.C. Police Union v. District of Columbia, 502 F.Supp.3d 45 (D.D.C. Nov. 4, 2020). The FOP then moved to alter the judgment so that it could amend its complaint. The district court denied the motion as f......
  • United States v. Harris, Criminal Action No. 19-358 (RC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • November 4, 2020
    ...the Forensic Firearms/Toolmarks Discipline—Pattern Matching Examination. See Govt. Opp'n, Ex. 4 ("DOJ ULTR"), ECF No. 28-4. The DOJ ULTR 502 F.Supp.3d 45 permits firearms examiners to conclude that casings were fired from the same firearm when all class characteristics are in agreement, and......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT