Court of Appeals Affirms Judgment for District in Contract Action Arising from MPD’s Alleged Failure to Detail Officers

Jun 29th, 2013 | By Douglas Melcher | Category: Case Notes

On June 20, 2013, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals decided Aziken v. District of Columbia, No. 11-CV-1088, slip op. (D.C. June 20, 2013) in which it affirmed the trial court’s award of summary judgment to the District of Columbia in a breach of contract action for damages arising from the alleged failure of the Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”) to detail police officers to the vicinity of the plaintiff’s night club. Id. at 1-2. The plaintiff specifically alleged that, on one particular night, detail officers “went to the police station to process an arrest, leaving the assigned area without a police presence.” Id. at 2. The plaintiff further alleged that, as a result, a preventable shooting occurred at his night club “that led to [the night club’s] closure and revocation of its liquor license.” Id. at 2. The Court of Appeals reviewed the undisputed facts and concluded that the contract — which was evidenced by an invoice for “police services” — was silent or at least ambiguous as to whether a police presence needed to be maintained in the vicinity even when detail officers were processing an arrest. Id. at 16-19. It further concluded that, as a matter of law, there was no extrinsic evidence of a contract term requiring a police presence to be maintained under such circumstances, id. at 19-22, and there was no basis for implying the existence of such a term. Id. at 22-25. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s award of summary judgment to the District. Id. at 25. To view the Court of Appeals’ opinion, click here.

Douglas C. Melcher is a civil litigator who has more than a decade of experience in the private practice of law. He has written numerous articles for D.C. Law Report and other publications, and is the author of the book Tort Claims and Defenses in the District of Columbia. He is presently an attorney with Bode & Fierberg, LLP, which is a boutique, civil litigation firm. He can be reached at 202-862-4307 or For further information about Mr. Melcher, click here.