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FARRERO v. NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMIN.

November 5, 2001

ANTHONY L. FARRERO, PLAINTIFF,
V.
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Urbina, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

I. INTRODUCTION

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.

II. BACKGROUND

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.

After NASA reinstated Mr. Farrero, both parties started to negotiate another settlement agreement because they were both dissatisfied with each other. See id. Among other things, NASA offered to give Mr. Farrero a lump-sum payment if Mr. Farrero would retire from NASA and drop the "whistleblower appeal." See id. After a few months of negotiations, the parties entered into a settlement agreement on October 8, 1998 ("SA98"). 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.

On July 16, 2001, NASA filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. NASA argues that this court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction because the plaintiff failed to file a timely complaint.*fn2 Accordingly, NASA moves the court to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil ...


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