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Case Name Robinson v. Farley DR-DC-0005
Docket / Court 1:15-cv-00803-KBJ ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Special Collection DOJ Civil Rights Division Statements of Interest
Attorney Organization Washington Lawyers' Committee
Case Summary
On June 1, 2015, a young man with cerebral palsy and his caretaker filed this suit in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs sued Prince George's County, Maryland and the District of Columbia as well as their respective police departments under 42 U.S.C. §1983, 42 U.S ... read more >
On June 1, 2015, a young man with cerebral palsy and his caretaker filed this suit in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs sued Prince George's County, Maryland and the District of Columbia as well as their respective police departments under 42 U.S.C. §1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1231 (Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act 29 U.S.C. § 701, and various state laws. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, asked the court for compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorneys' fees, and appropriate injunctive relief. Along with other Fourth Amendment violations, the plaintiffs claimed that the force used by the Prince George's County Police Department was excessive. The plaintiffs also claimed that the police departments had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act for not having training and protocols in place for arrests of individuals with disabilities.

The events that precipitated the lawsuits were alleged as follows. The plaintiff was waiting at a bus stop on his way to run errands. Members of the Prince George's County Police Department had made their way into the District of Columbia to search for car thieves. The officers noticed the plaintiffs sitting at the bus stop and gave him unfriendly looks. The officers claim this was because he matched the subject's description. Because the stares of the police officers made him uncomfortable, the plaintiff began to head back towards his house. The police then confronted the plaintiff. The officer asked for the plaintiff's identification and the plaintiff presented the officer with his disability identification card. The officer eventually followed the plaintiff into his apartment complex.

From there, the complaint alleges that neighbors and the plaintiff's caretaker got involved. The caretaker first entered the scene seeing the plaintiff sprawled on the steps, the much larger officer standing above him, TASER in hand. The plaintiff was able to get free of the officer and fled into his apartment. The officer drew his firearm, waving it at the neighbors who had congregated and proceeded to call for backup instead of attempting to deescalate the situation. All the while, the plaintiff's caretaker and neighbor tried to explain to the officer that the plaintiff was disabled, and was, in fact, not capable of driving a car, let alone stealing a car. Eventually there were 29 police vehicles parked on the plaintiffs' block. The officers, some from the Prince George's County Sheriff's Office, the Prince George's County Police Department, and the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department, entered the plaintiff's apartment without a warrant, with firearms drawn. When they found the plaintiff in his bathroom, they allegedly beat him. The plaintiff was marched outside in handcuffs, sent to the hospital-with heavy bruising, lacerations, and a TASER spike lodged in his back. The hospital remanded him to the Metropolitan Police Department, and he was detained overnight.

According to the complaint, no attempt was made to contact the plaintiff's family when the sole charge against him, misdemeanor assault of a police officer, was not prosecuted. The plaintiff's uncle found the plaintiff wandering, scared and confused, around the outside of the courthouse.

After the complaint was filed, the different parties each filed motions to dismiss. Prince George's County filed their motion on November 19, 2015 and the District of Columbia filed their motion to dismiss on December 1, 2015.

Two of the officers of the Prince George's County Police Department were served in September of 2015 but failed to respond to the claims. On January 13, 2016, the plaintiffs moved for default judgment against the officers, who, a day later, filed a joint answer in the hopes that it would be accepted. The court (Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson) allowed the answer, saying in a minute order on January 14, 2016, that though neither officer sought leave to file the late answer, the court had a preference for deciding cases on the merits instead of on technicalities. The officers, also on January 14, 2016, filed their own motion to dismiss.

On May 11, 2016, the plaintiffs filed their second amended complaint, which dropped the official-capacity charges against the officers. Therefore, the motion to dismiss filed by the two Prince George's County officers was denied as moot. In the same minute order that denied the motion to dismiss, Judge Jackson issued a stay on the obligation of individual defendants to respond to the second amended complaint.

The second amended complaint also added charges against a new defendant: the state of Maryland. Specifically, Maryland was charged with violating the ADA. On May 16, 2016, the state of Maryland filed a motion to dismiss, and the case against Maryland was voluntarily dismissed on May 27, 2016.

On June 20, 2016, the United States Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in the case. In the statement, the DOJ asserted that arrest procedures were specifically considered during the drafting process of the ADA, and that the DOJ had in interest in the case not being dismissed.

On July 27, 2016, Judge Jackson denied Prince George's County and the District of Columbia's motions to dismiss and lifted the stay on the individual officer's obligations to respond to the second amended complaint, setting a due date in September. However, five days later on August 1, 2016, Prince George's County and its Police Officers filed a motion to bifurcate the case, hoping to separate the Monell claims from the individual claims. The defendants argued that the individual claims should be tried first, for convenience's sake. If the jury found that the plaintiff's rights had not been violated, then there could be no claim against the county or the district. Additionally, the defendants made the argument that even if the jury found against the individual officers, the monetary damages received would "obviate the need for a second trial." Finally, the defendants argued that the discovery information obtained and presented in arguing the custom of police brutality and disregard of the ADA that would be needed for the court or jury to find against Prince George's County would unfairly prejudice the jury or court against the individual officers.

On August 26, 2016, the plaintiffs filed a memorandum in opposition of the motion to bifurcate. They argued that the efficiency cited by the defendants was purely speculative and that staying discovery for the Monell claims until the possible second trial would be unfairly prejudicial against the plaintiffs. In the introduction, the plaintiffs implicitly asserted that in combination with the motions to dismiss, the bifurcation was simply a continuation of a pattern of attempts to prevent any discovery on the discriminatory practices of Prince George's County.

On September 14, 2016, Judge Jackson denied the motion for bifurcation without prejudice. Specifically, she stated that because the individual answers to the second amended complaint had not been filed, and because there was yet no discovery schedule set for the trial, the motion was premature. She stated that she would consider any motions for stays of discovery or bifurcation at a more appropriate time.

The officers answered the second amended complaint, and on October 7, 2016, the charged officers of the MPD filed a motion to dismiss. This time, the officers asserted that the charges against them were too vague to know whether or not they could claim qualified immunity.

On October 13, 2016, the plaintiffs filed their third amended complaint. As compared to the first complaint, it dropped the original due process claims and the claim based on the DC Human Rights Act Violation. Meanwhile, it added unlawful entry claims and negligent infliction of emotional distress in addition to the original intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. The third amended complaint also added a claim under section of 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and added a section on the administrative notice the plaintiffs gave to both the District of Columbia and Prince George's County.

The court initially refused to rule on the defendant's qualified immunity claim because it found neither party had developed the argument sufficiently. After several months of supplemental briefing, the court held a motion hearing on the issue in April of 2017, and denied the motion to dismiss on September 1, 2017. 264 F. Supp. 3d 154. The court found that the complaint sufficiently stated a claim against the officers even though it did not allege exactly what actions each particular officer took.

The defendants filed a second motion to bifurcate and stay discovery on November 16, 2017, which the court granted in part and denied in part on January 16, 2018. Specifically, the court concluded that bifurcation of the Monell claims was appropriate for the purposes of trial, but that to avoid undue prejudice to the plaintiffs, the existing discovery schedule would proceed as to all claims. It went on to explain that after summary judgment, any surviving non-Monell claims would proceed to trial. After the initial trial, if there was reason to proceed on the Monell claims, a second trial addressing those would follow.

Since then, litigation has continued over various discovery disputes and the parties appear to have engaged in some settlement efforts. On September 24, 2018, the parties filed a joint consent to mediation by Magistrate Judge, and the case was referred to Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson for mediation. While a settlement conference was initially scheduled for November of 2018, was rescheduled a number of times and was never actually held.

On April 25, 2019, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preservation order for Prince George County defendants regarding the preservation of evidence. A discovery hearing was held before Judge Meriweather on May 20, 2019. The same day, at the request of the court, the plaintiffs filed a notice of discovery. The plaintiffs requested production of documents.

On October 29, 2019, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case against the Prince George County defendants because the parties had reached a private settlement. The claims against the D.C. defendants had not been resolved and were still subject to ongoing litigation. Three days layer, the case was referred to Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather for full case management.

The case was administratively stayed on March 11, 2020 by Judge Meriweather because of the pending settlement. On May 28, 2020 the plaintiffs filed a stipulation of dismissal against all defendants because the parties had settled the matter privately. As of July 16, 2020, the court had not yet issued an order to dismiss the case with prejudice.

Megan Brown - 03/05/2017
Chris Pollack - 03/17/2019
Sabrina Glavota - 07/16/2020

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Mental impairment
Mobility impairment
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Aggressive behavior
Assault/abuse by staff
Excessive force
Failure to train
Improper treatment of mentally ill suspects
Pattern or Practice
Personal injury
Mental Disability
Cerebral palsy
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
State law
Defendant(s) District of Columbia
Prince George's County
Plaintiff Description Young man with cerebral palsy and his grandmother/caretaker.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Washington Lawyers' Committee
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Filed 06/01/2015
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
DR-DC-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 138]
DR-DC-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Statement of Interest of the United States of America [ECF# 38]
DR-DC-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Memorandum of Law in Support of the Motion for Bifurcation and Stay of Discovery [ECF# 42]
DR-DC-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Third Amended Complaint [ECF# 62]
DR-DC-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 81] (264 F.Supp.3d 154)
DR-DC-0005-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
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Judges Jackson, Ketanji Brown (D.D.C., D.C. Circuit) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0005-0005 | DR-DC-0005-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Blanchard, Alexander E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0005-0001 | DR-DC-0005-9000
Corkery, Dennis A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0005-0001 | DR-DC-0005-0003 | DR-DC-0005-9000
Crovetto, Alisha Marie (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0005-0001 | DR-DC-0005-9000
Handley, Matthew K. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0005-0001 | DR-DC-0005-0003 | DR-DC-0005-9000
Hunger, Sarah Ann (Illinois) show/hide docs
O'Reilly, William Vincent (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0005-0001 | DR-DC-0005-9000
Thatch, Christopher Nathan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Ward, Nathaniel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Wojdowski, Haley A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Adams, Walter Esmond (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Christie, John Warren (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Eftekhari, Pegah Ebrahimi (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Karpinski, Alex (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
King, Russell A Jr. (Maryland) show/hide docs
Levine, Jason Lee (Maryland) show/hide docs
Liew, Jordan En Liew (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Pham, Tram T. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Pittman, Jonathan H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Saginaw, Aimee Elizabeth (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Snoddy, William Antoine (Maryland) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0005-0002 | DR-DC-0005-9000
Teferi, Gessesse (Maryland) show/hide docs
Whitted, Stephen E (Maryland) show/hide docs
Other Lawyers Oppenheimer, Elisabeth (District of Columbia) show/hide docs

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