The opinion of the court was delivered by: Urbina, United States District Judge.
GRANTING THE DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO DISMISS
This case arises out of a decade-long strained relationship between a
former employee and employer. Anthony L. Farrero ("the plaintiff" or
"Mr. Farrero") brings this action against his former employer. the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration ("the defendant" or
"NASA"). Mr. Farrero claims that NASA violated the Privacy Act of 1974,
5 U.S.C. § 552a, by fabricating and maintaining false information
about him and by releasing it to other agencies. He seeks declaratory and
monetary relief. NASA filed a motion to dismiss Mr. Farrero's complaint,
or in the alternative, for summary judgment. For the reasons that
follow, the court will grant the defendant's motion to dismiss.
Mr. Farrero started as a design engineer for NASA on September 24,
1990. See Am.Compl. ("Compl.") at 4; Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss or, in the
alternative, for Summ.J. ("Mot. to Dismiss") at 3. His job
responsibilities included oversight of contractors. See id. In 1992, he
advised senior NASA officials of alleged "contractor deficiencies and
negligence" by an agency supervisor. See id. According to Mr. Farrero,
this prompted retaliation by various NASA officials, including two
personnel actions resulting in suspension for a total of 13 days. See
id.; Mot. to Dismiss at 3.
Mr. Farrero appealed these personnel actions to the Merit Systems
Protection Board ("MSPB"). See Compl. at 5. This appeal resulted in a
settlement agreement ("SA93"), dated April 7, 1993, between Mr. Farrero
and NASA. See id. In exchange for voiding the two personnel actions, Mr.
Farrero resigned under the terms of SA93. See id. This agreement,
however, did not end the dispute. Mr. Farrero subsequently filed MSPB
enforcement actions in which he alleged that NASA violated a
confidentiality provision in SA93 See id. The MSPB agreed, and voided
SA93 on May 11, 1998. See id. This decision led to Mr. Farrero being
reinstated status quo ante and allowed him to proceed with the
"whistleblower appeal" that he had originally settled. See id.
The defendant's motion to dismiss turns on the various documents
involved in Mr. Farrero's reinstatement and negotiation of SA98
Accordingly, the court will describe the correspondence between both
parties. On May 26, 1998, Donald H. Schiller, Assistant Chief Counsel at
NASA, wrote a letter to Mr. Farrero regarding his reinstatement. See
Compl.App. at 12-13. In this letter, Mr. Schiller referred to certain
"[r]eports of assaults, threats, or battery upon" NASA employees by Mr.
Farrero during 1993 that would support an adverse action against him by
NASA. See id. This statement referred to an encounter in 1993 when Mr.
Farrero allegedly threatened Mr. Schiller in a Florida restaurant. See
Compl. at 6.
Mr. Farrero repeatedly denied these allegations. See Compl.App. at 14;
15-17. For example, in a letter to Mr. Schiller dated May 28, 1998, Mr.
Farrero asserted that the "statements concerning [my] misconduct are
false" and there "were no threats or battery." See id. at 14. A few days
later, the parties finalized Mr. Farrero's reinstatement and started to
negotiate SA98 On June 3, 1998, Mr. Farrero wrote Mr. Schiller again to
review the matters they had discussed during a telephone conference on
June 1, 1998. See id. at 15-17. In this letter, Mr. Farrero again denied
any wrongdoing in 1993 and also denied that Mr. Schiller filed a police
report resulting from their encounter in Florida. See id. at 16.
Finally, Mr. Farrero assured Mr. Schiller that he would have "the matter
checked out independently." See id.
On June 5, 1998, Michael S. Hill, a representative in NASA's Human
Resources department, also wrote Mr. Farrero to recapitulate the June 1st
telephone conference. See id. at 18-19. Most of the letter concerned Mr.
Farrero's reinstatement. See id. Mr. Hill, however, also stated that
during the conference, Mr. Schiller "informed you [Mr. Farrero] that his
attention has been called to certain documents which cause concern
regarding your conduct around the time of your resignation." Id. at 19.
The negotiations and related correspondence continued. On June 9,
1998, another telephone conference was held to resolve the remaining
issues regarding Mr. Farrero's reinstatement. See Mot. to Dismiss, Ex.
5. In a letter to Mr. Schiller dated June 18, 1998, Mr. Farrero
summarized the June 9th conference and again referred to Mr. Schiller's
accusations regarding their Florida encounter. See id.
On January 3, 2001, Mr. Farrero, proceeding pro se, filed a complaint
against NASA.*fn1 Specifically, Mr. Farrero claimed that NASA maintained
a false record on him related to his encounter with Mr. Schiller in a
Florida restaurant. See Compl. at 5-6. Mr. Farrero insists that he did
not learn about these false records until January 8, 1999, when he read
correspondence from NASA that referred to records regarding the
encounter. See id. at 4.