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Reynolds v. United States Department of Justice

United States District Court, District Circuit

December 24, 2010

GARY REYNOLDS, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, ET AL., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Royce C. Lamberth, United States District Judge

Before the Court are the defendants’ Partial Motion to Dismiss the Fourth Amended Complaint [30] and the plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File the Fifth Amended Complaint [33]. Upon consideration of each of these motions, the oppositions thereto, and the replies, the defendants’ Motion [30] is GRANTED and the plaintiff’s Motion [33] is DENIED. And, for the reasons stated herein, the plaintiff’s remaining claims will be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

I. BACKGROUND

Gary Reynolds is a medical doctor previously employed by the federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) at the federal detention center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On January 5, 2009, BOP terminated Mr. Reynolds’ decade-long tenure as a Medical Officer after finding that Mr. Reynolds improperly performed a breast examination during the pre-employment screening of a female correctional officer. In compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7e, BOP reported Mr. Reynolds’ actions and subsequent termination to the National Practitioner Data Bank (“the Bank” or “NPDB”)[1]. This case stems from Mr. Reynolds’ various challenges to the accuracy and validity of that report.

A. The National Practitioner Data Bank

The NPDB is maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) and exists to improve healthcare quality by collecting and disseminating information regarding the professional record of healthcare practitioners. Federal agencies are required to report all “adjudicated actions or decisions, ” including employment terminations, to the NPDB “regardless of whether the [termination] is subject to a pending appeal.” 45 C.F.R. § 60.16(a); 45 C.F.R. § 60.3. Subjects of adverse Bank reports who wish to challenge the accuracy or propriety of an NPDB entry must first request that the reporting agency revise the report. 45 C.F.R. § 60.21(b)(3). If the agency declines, or fails to respond within 60 days, the subject may request that the Secretary of HHS review the report for accuracy. Id. Secretarial review is limited to the accuracy of the reported information and does not include “the merits or appropriateness of the action or the due process that the subject received.” Id. § 60.21(c)(1). At the conclusion of the review, the Secretary will decide whether to void the NPDB report or issue a corrected report, typically within 30 days, though more time is permitted for “good cause.” Id. § 60.21(b)(3); § 60.21(c)(2).

B. Mr. Reynolds’ Administrative Challenge to the NPDB Report

BOP reported Mr. Reynolds’ termination to the Bank on February 5, 2009. Fourth Am. Compl., Ex. D (Secretarial Review Decision, June 8, 2010), at 1. The report stated that

A female correctional officer filed a complaint with the agency alleging that a male medical officer misused his power of position while conducting her pre-employment physical examination. This allegation was sustained after an internal investigation was completed. Medical officer was terminated on January 5, 2009.

Id. The reason for Mr. Reynolds’ termination was listed as a “non-sexual dual relationship or boundary violation.” Id.

A year later, in January 2010, Mr. Reynolds requested Secretarial review of the NPDB report. On June 8, 2010, HHS issued a decision denying Mr. Reynolds any relief, finding that “when the Federal BOP terminated [Mr. Reynolds’] employment, they were legally required to report [Mr. Reynolds] to the [NPDB].” Id. at 3. The decision letter encouraged Mr. Reynolds to seek reconsideration of the decision should he become aware of information that was unavailable to him at the time of his initial review request. Id.

C. District Court Litigation

Aside from his administrative challenge to the NPDB report, Mr. Reynolds filed three separate lawsuits stemming from his tenure with, and termination from, BOP.

First, in March 2007, Mr. Reynolds filed Civil Action No. 07-0499 in this Court, alleging employment discrimination on the basis of his race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII case”). The complaint alleged that BOP supervisors restricted Mr. Reynolds’ clinical privileges and denied him leave for military training on the basis of his race and as retaliation for a prior discrimination complaint filed by Mr. Reynolds. Reynolds v. Mukasey, Civ. No. 07-499, Compl., ECF No. 1. Pursuant to the venue provision of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(3), this Court transferred the case to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where the Philadelphia detention center is located. Mem. Op., No. 07-499, ECF No. 36. The case, re-captioned Civil Action No. 08-4270, was dismissed on November 29, 2010 after the parties reached a settlement. Reynolds v. Mukasey, No. 08-4270, Order, ECF No. 99. Under the settlement agreement, BOP agreed to

[R]emove the January 5, 2009 letter of termination from Plaintiff’s personnel file (and all references thereto) and [to] replace it with a form SF-50, noting ...

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