Trazell v. Wilmers

Decision Date07 November 2013
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 12–01369 (ABJ)
PartiesDelonte Emiliano Trazell, Plaintiff, v. Robert G. Wilmers, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Delonte Emiliano Trazell, Washington, DC, pro se.

Catherine Anne Bledsoe, Alicia Lynn Wilson, Gordon Feinblatt LLC, Baltimore, MD, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

AMY BERMAN JACKSON, United States District Judge

Plaintiff Delonte Emiliano Trazell, proceeding pro se, filed this case against defendants Manufactory and Traders Trust Bank (“MT & T”); Robert G. Wilmers, CEO and Director of MT & T; and Michael Trayder, in his capacity as an employee of MT & T (collectively defendants). In his amended complaint, plaintiff alleges that defendants repossessed his vehicle on June 19, 2012, in violation of:

? the Treaty of Watertown of 1776;

? the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution;

? 12 U.S.C. § 83;

? 15 U.S.C. § 1681s–2;

? 18 U.S.C. §§ 112, 1341;

? 42 U.S.C. § 1983;

? United Nations Resolution 61/295 on the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

? United Nations Resolution 60/147; and

? D.C. Municipal Regulations title 16, §§ 341.1, 341.3, 341.5.

Am. Compl. at 1–2 [Dkt. # 7].

Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss (“Defs.' Mot.”) [Dkt. # 13]; see also Defs.' Mem. in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. to Dimiss (“Defs.' Mem.”) [Dkt. # 14]. In response, plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment and a supplemental memorandum. Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. (“Pl.'s Mot.”) [Dkt. # 17]; Pl.'s Supplemental Mem. in Supp. of Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. (“Pl.'s Supp. Mem.”) [Dkt. # 23]. For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant defendants' motion to dismiss in part and deny it in part. The Court will also deny plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

Based on the limited information provided in the amended complaint, the Court has ascertained the following facts: Plaintiff is the registered owner of a Dodge Charger. Am. Compl. ¶ 1. On June 19, 2012, his vehicle was removed from southeast Washington, D.C., id. ¶¶ 1, 3(a), and MT & T employee Timothy Worrell left his business card on plaintiff's front door, id. ¶ 3. The vehicle is now being stored in Clinton, M.D. Id. ¶ 1. According to plaintiff, [t]here is NO ‘instrument of security’ or ‘document of title’ between M & T BANKING CORP or MANUFACUTORY AND TRADERS INC. and [plaintiff] regarding his vehicle. Id. ¶ 2.

Plaintiff filed suit giving rise to the instant case. In his amended complaint, plaintiff alleges that defendants violated several of his constitutional and statutory rights, international resolutions, and three District of Columbia Municipal Regulations. Defendants moved to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff opposed the motion to dismiss and filed his own motion for summary judgment.

STANDARD OR REVIEW
I. Motion to Dismiss

“To survive a [Rule 12(b)(6) ] 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted); accordBell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). In Iqbal, the Supreme Court reiterated the two principles underlying its decision in Twombly : “First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. And [s]econd, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Id. at 1950.

A claim is facially plausible when the pleaded factual content “allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 1949. “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,’ but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. A pleading must offer more than “labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action,” id., quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, and [t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice,” Id.

When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint is construed liberally in plaintiff's favor, and the Court should grant plaintiff “the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged.” Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C.Cir.1994). This is particularly true where the plaintiff proceeds pro se because a pro se complaint is held “to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972) (per curiam). Nevertheless, the Court need not accept inferences drawn by the plaintiff if those inferences are unsupported by facts alleged in the complaint, nor must the Court accept plaintiff's legal conclusions. See id.; Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C.Cir.2002). Additionally, regardless of the less stringent standard for pro se litigants, plaintiff's complaint “must present a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Wada v. U.S. Secret Serv., 525 F.Supp.2d 1, 9 (D.D.C.2007), quoting Henthorn v. Dep't of Navy, 29 F.3d 682, 684 (D.C.Cir.1994) (internal quotation marks omitted).

In ruling upon a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a court may ordinarily consider only “the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint, and matters about which the Court may take judicial notice.” Gustave–Schmidt v. Chao, 226 F.Supp.2d 191, 196 (D.D.C.2002) (citations omitted). However, where the plaintiff proceeds pro se, the Court may “consider supplemental material filed by a pro se litigant ... to clarify the precise claims being urged.” Greenhill v. Spellings, 482 F.3d 569, 572 (D.C.Cir.2007).

II. Motion for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate “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). The party seeking summary judgment bears the “initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying 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, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted). To defeat summary judgment, the non-moving party must “designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (internal quotation marks omitted). Merely identifying a fact in dispute is not enough to preclude summary judgment, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247–48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); a dispute is “genuine” only if a reasonable fact-finder could find for the non-moving party, and a fact is only “material” if it is capable of affecting the outcome of the litigation. Id. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505; Laningham v. U.S. Navy, 813 F.2d 1236, 1241 (D.C.Cir.1987). In assessing a party's motion, [a]ll underlying facts and inferences are analyzed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” N.S. ex rel. Stein v. District of Columbia, 709 F.Supp.2d 57, 65 (D.D.C.2010), citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247, 106 S.Ct. 2505.

ANALYSIS

In his amended complaint, plaintiff alleges that defendants violated his constitutional and statutory rights, international law, and D.C. Municipal Regulations by repossessing his vehicle. Defendants moved to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. As described in more detail below, the Court concludes that plaintiff failed to allege enough facts in his complaint to state claims for violations of the Treaty of Watertown, the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, 12 U.S.C. § 83, 15 U.S.C. § 1681s–2, 18 U.S.C. § 112, 18 U.S.C. § 1341, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, United Nations Resolution 60/147, United Nations Resolution 61/295, D.C. Municipal Regulation § 341.1, and D.C. Municipal Regulation § 341.3. However, the Court also finds that plaintiff did allege sufficient facts to state a claim for a violation of D.C. Municipal Regulation § 341.5 and the claim that defendants did not have a valid security interest in plaintiff's vehicle. Therefore, the Court will grant defendants' motion to dismiss in part and deny it in part.

I. Plaintiff failed to state a claim for violation of the Treaty of Watertown.

The Treaty of Watertown of 1776 was the first treaty to recognize the United States as an independent nation. The Historical Society of Watertown, http:// historicalsocietyofwatertownma.org/HSW/index.php?option=com_ content&view=article&id=86&Itemid=66 (last visited Oct. 8, 2013). It was signed by “the Governors of the State of Massachusetts Bay, and the Delegates of the St. John's and Micmack Tribes of Indians.” Treaty of Watertown of 1776, http:// historicalsocietyofwatertownma.org/HSW/HSWdocs/treatyofwatertown.pdf (last visited Oct. 8, 2013). The treaty memorialized an agreement for peace between the recently declared independent American colonies and the St. John's and Micmack nations as well as those nations' agreement to support American rebels in the ongoing Revolutionary War against Great Britain. Id. Additionally, the treaty stated that, “if any robbery or outrage happens to be committed by any of the subjects ... of the United States...

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