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Pinson v. U.S. Department of Justice

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

November 21, 2014

JEREMY PINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, et al., Defendants

Page 284

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 285

Jeremy Pinson, Plaintiff, Pro se, Florence, CO USA.

For U.S. Department of Justice, Defendant: Carl Ezekiel Ross, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC USA; Judith A. Kidwell, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Civil Division, Washington, DC USA.

For Charles E. Samuels, Jr., John Dignam, Defendants: Judith A. Kidwell, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Civil Division, Washington, DC USA; Theresa Ekeoma Dike, LEAD ATTORNEY, Carl Ezekiel Ross, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC USA.

For U.S. Marshal Service, Defendant: Judith A. Kidwell, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Civil Division, Washington, DC USA.

Page 286

Re Doc. No.: 102

MEMORANDUM OPINION

transferring Plaintiff's Preliminary Injunction and Privacy Act claim to the United States District Court for the District of Colorado

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, United States District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This action is before the Court on Plaintiff Jeremy Pinson's (" Plaintiff" ) August 15, 2014, Motion for Preliminary Injunction (" preliminary injunction" ), which seeks to enjoin the United States Department of Justice (" DOJ" ) from sharing Plaintiff's inmate records in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 552a (" Privacy Act" ). The preliminary injunction stems from an original complaint filed with this Court on November 15, 2012, and subsequently amended[1] to include other federal agencies and employees involved in the administration of the federal prison system. The operative complaint was brought pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552, the Freedom of Information Act (" FOIA" ), the Privacy Act, and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics (" Bivens" ).[2]

The preliminary injunction at issue here focuses on events allegedly occurring at a United States Penitentiary (" USP" ) Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado (" ADX Florence" ), where Plaintiff is currently incarcerated. Plaintiff asks the Court to enjoin " DOJ from allowing its employees [at ADX Florence] to violate [P]laintiff's Privacy Act rights[]" by disseminating inmate records. See Pl.'s

Page 287

Prelim. Inj. at 1-2, ECF No. 102. Plaintiff alleges that he is under constant threat of harm from other inmates because these records detail complaints filed with prison investigators pursuant to 42 U.S.C.A. § 15601, et seq., the Prison Rape Elimination Act (" PREA" ), which identify Plaintiff as an informant. See id. at 1-3. In opposition, Defendant DOJ asks the Court to sever the preliminary injunction from Plaintiff's earlier claims[3] because 1) the claims are not logically related nor do they share common questions of law or fact, and 2) the District Court of Colorado is a more appropriate venue given Plaintiff's incarceration in the state, the location of witnesses and records, and other efficiency factors. See Defs.' Opp. Prelim. Inj. at 1-2, 5-9, ECF No. 105.

For the reasons detailed below, the Court denies Defendant DOJ's request to dismiss the preliminary injunction. Pursuant to Rule 21, however, the Court grants Defendant's request to sever the preliminary injunction and sua sponte severs Plaintiff's Privacy Act claim, transferring both to the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Plaintiff's FOIA claim, however, will remain before this Court as a separate action, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B); similarly, Plaintiff's Bivens claim will remain before this Court because the transferee district may lack personal jurisdiction over Defendants. See 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) (" [A] district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought. . . ." ) (emphasis added); In re Scott, 709 F.2d 717, 720, 228 U.S.App.D.C. 278 (D.C. Cir. 1983) (determining that section 1404(a) expressly requires that venue in the transferee court be proper) (discussing Hoffman v. Blaski, 363 U.S. 335, 80 S.Ct. 1084, 4 L.Ed.2d 1254 (1960)).

II. BACKGROUND

Parties named in Plaintiff's complaint include DOJ, Charles E. Samuels, Jr. (" Samuels" ), Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (" BOP" ), and John Dignam (" Dignam" ), Chief of the Office of Internal Affairs at BOP. Samuels and Dignam are named in both their official and individual capacities. The complaint alleges that: i) DOJ and its components violated FOIA by refusing to produce information in response to a range of requests submitted by Plaintiff; ii) Defendants Samuels, Dignam, and BOP and its employees at both ADX Florence and the Federal Correctional Institution in Talladega, Alabama (" FCI Talladega" ) violated the Privacy Act by: a) entering false information into Plaintiff's internal files; b) refusing to remove such information upon request by Plaintiff; and c) allowing other personal information in Plaintiff's records to be ...


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