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Elliott v. Federal Bureau of Prisons

November 13, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge


Alfred Elliott Reg. No. 97965-024 FCC Forrest City (Low) P.O. Box 9000 Forrest City, AR 72336

Currently pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Augmented Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment as to Plaintiff's claim that Defendant Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") violated the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a. In addition, Plaintiff has filed a Motion for Leave to File Amended and Supplemental Complaint, seeking to amend his Privacy Act claim and to add two additional claims to this action. Defendant maintains that Plaintiff's original Privacy Act claim should be dismissed and opposes Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File. Upon a searching review of the filings submitted by both parties, the exhibits attached thereto, the relevant statutes and caselaw, and the entire record herein, the Court shall grant Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to Plaintiff's original Privacy Act claim, and shall deny Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File, finding that Plaintiff's proposed amendment would be futile. In light of these actions, the Court shall dismiss this action in its entirety.


The Court shall assume familiarity with its October 17, 2006 and December 27, 2006 Memorandum Opinions, which set forth in detail the factual background of this case, and shall therefore only briefly address such facts as are necessary for resolution of the motions currently before the Court. Plaintiff Alfred Elliot*fn1 is a federal prisoner currently serving a 36-month sentence imposed on May 22, 2007.*fn2 Pl.'s Aug. Opp'n at 2 n.1. Plaintiff alleges that he has suffered and continues to suffer from a number of ailments and diseases, and that he has undergone a number of medical procedures between 2001 and 2004. Mem. Op. at 3-4.*fn3 On October 4, 2004, Plaintiff filed a one-count Complaint with this Court, alleging that the BOP violated the Privacy Act by using a pre-sentence report prepared in 1989 (when Plaintiff was 45 years old and in better health) in determining that Plaintiff should serve a period of incarceration at the Federal Correctional Institution in Forrest City, Arkansas ("FCI-Forrest City"). Id. at 4 (citing Compl. ¶ 3). Plaintiff subsequently filed his First Amended Complaint, in which he maintained his Privacy Act claim as Count I, and added two additional claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") (Count II) and the Rehabilitation Act ("RA") (Count III). Id. at 6-7 (citing First Am. Compl. ¶ 14-33).

In its October 17, 2006 Memorandum Opinion, the Court granted Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment as to Plaintiff's Privacy Act claim and dismissed Plaintiff's ADA and RA claims. The Court's grant of summary judgment was based on a finding that Plaintiff had "presented no evidence that the BOP's determination to designate him for service at FCI-Forrest City constituted an intentional or willful violation of the Privacy Act," and that Plaintiff therefore could not prevail on his claim for monetary damages under Section (g)(4) of the Privacy Act as a matter of law. Id. at 24-25 (citing Deters v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 85 F.3d 655, 660 (D.C. Cir. 1996)). Plaintiff subsequently filed a Motion for Relief from Summary Judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), arguing that he was entitled to reasonable discovery relating to his Privacy Act claim before this Court granted Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. The Court granted Plaintiff's motion in its December 27, 2006 Memorandum Opinion. Elliott v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, Civil Action No. 04-1702, 2006 WL 3826930, at * 5 (D.D.C. Dec. 27, 2006). That Opinion allowed the parties the opportunity to "complete discovery as to the very discrete issue of whether Defendant willfully or intentionally violated the Privacy Act," and allowed Plaintiff to file an augmented opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment setting forth facts relevant to that issue. Id.

After several extensions, Plaintiff has now filed his Augmented Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, to which the BOP has responded. See generally Pl.'s Aug. Opp'n; Def.'s Reply. In addition, basically conceding that the information obtained during discovery indicates that he cannot demonstrate a Privacy Act violation as originally alleged, Plaintiff has moved for leave to file an amended and supplemental complaint, an effort that Defendant opposes. See generally Pl.'s Mot. for Leave to File; Def.'s Opp'n. Plaintiff's proposed Amended and Supplemental Complaint includes a revised Privacy Act claim that reflects the information learned during discovery in this action, as well as two new claims--one pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), the other pursuant to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA")--however, in his Reply, Plaintiff indicates that he no longer wishes to pursue an APA claim in this action. See generally Am. and Suppl. Compl.; Pl.'s Reply at 2 (indicating that Plaintiff has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas concerning the matters described in his proposed APA claim).


A party is entitled to summary judgment if the pleadings, depositions, and affidavits demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of material fact in dispute and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Tao v. Freeh, 27 F.3d 635, 638 (D.C. Cir. 1994). Under the summary judgment standard, Defendant, as the moving party, "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 (1986). Plaintiff, in response to Defendants' motion, must "go beyond the pleadings and by [its] own affidavits, or by the 'depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 324.

Although a court should draw all inferences from the supporting records submitted by the nonmoving party, the mere existence of a factual dispute, by itself, is not sufficient to bar summary judgment. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). To be material, the factual assertion must be capable of affecting the substantive outcome of the litigation; to be genuine, the issue must be supported by sufficient admissible evidence that a reasonable trier-of-fact could find for the nonmoving party. Laningham v. U.S. Navy, 813 F.2d 1236, 1242-43 (D.C. Cir. 1987); Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 251-52, (the court must determine "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law"). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not sufficiently probative, summary judgment may be granted." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (internal citations omitted). "Mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading are not enough to prevent the issuance of summary judgment." Williams v. Callaghan, 938 F. Supp. 46, 49 (D.D.C. 1996). The adverse party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Instead, while the movant bears the initial responsibility of identifying those portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the burden shifts to the non-movant to "come forward with 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 587 (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)) (emphasis in original).


A. Plaintiff's Original Privacy Act Claim Cannot Survive Summary Judgment

Subsection (e)(5) of the Privacy Act requires an agency that keeps a system of records to "maintain all records which are used by the agency in making any determination about any individual with such accuracy, relevance, timeliness, and completeness as is reasonably necessary to assure fairness to the individual in the determination." 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(5). Subsection (g)(1)(C) provides a civil remedy if an agency fails to satisfy the standard of subsection (e)(5) "and consequently a determination is made which is adverse to the individual." Id. § (g)(1)(C). Pursuant to subsection (g)(4), a plaintiff bringing an action under subsection (g)(1)(C) may recover actual damages if "the court determines that the agency acted in a manner which was intentional or willful." Id. § (g)(4). Thus, to prevail on his claim for money damages under the Privacy Act, Plaintiff must prove that:

(1) he has been aggrieved by an adverse determination; (2) [the BOP] failed to maintain his records with the degree of accuracy necessary to assure fairness in the determination; (3) [the BOP']s reliance on the inaccurate records was the proximate cause of the adverse determination; and (4) [the BOP] acted intentionally or willfully in failing to maintain accurate records.

Deters v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 85 F.3d 655, 657 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (citations omitted); see also Toolasprashad v. Bureau of Prisons, 2 ...

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