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Majid v. Federal Bureau of Investigation

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 28, 2017

Joseph Majid, Plaintiff,
Federal Bureau Of Investigation, et al. Defendant.


          Gladys Kessler United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Joseph Majid brings this lawsuit against Nikki Wallace, his former co-worker at DynCorp International, Inc. ("DynCorp"), the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), and two unnamed agents of the FBI, John Doe #1 and John Doe #2 ("the John Doe Agents"). Mr. Majid alleges that while working in Afghanistan as an interpreter for the U.S. military, Ms. Wallace falsely told his supervisors that he was a security risk and potential terrorist sympathizer. He further alleges that this triggered an FBI investigation, and ultimately a campaign of harassment against him j by the FBI and the two John Doe-Agents. Mr. Majid has brought i numerous claims against the various defendants, based on the United States' Constitution, the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552(a), various l California statutes, and the common law of the state of California.

         Presently before the Court is the FBI's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 6] ("MTD" or "Motion"), arguing that the Court should dismiss those claims that Mr. Majid has brought against the FBI or grant summary judgment to the FBI on those claims. The FBI also argues that if the claims against the FBI are dismissed, the Court lacks jurisdiction to hear the remaining claims and should dismiss the entire action.

         Based on the Complaint, the Motion, the Opposition, the Reply, and the entire record herein, the FBI's Motion will be granted in part and denied in part. The constitutional and state law claims against the FBI contained in Counts VI and VIII will be dismissed, but the Privacy Act claims contained in Count V and the remaining claims against the other Defendants will not be dismissed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Mr. Majid is an American Citizen of Afghan descent who is fluent or proficient in a number of languages other than English, such as Dari, Pashto, Russian, and Turkmen. Complaint ¶ 1. Given his language skills he was hired by DynCorp in June of 2012 to serve as a security linguist in Afghanistan, assisting U.S. military personnel. Id. at ¶¶ 1, 10-11.

         Mr. Majid and Ms. Wallace, another DynCorp employee, began working together in Afghanistan in January of 2013. Id. At ¶ 12. Mr. Majid alleges that immediately after they began working together, Ms. Wallace treated him with hostility because he was of Afghan descent and she was jealous that he was being paid at a higher salary than she received. Id. at ¶¶ 12-14. He alleges she spread false rumors about him to their military clients, and filed a false report with their superiors indicating that he was a security risk and potential terrorist sympathizer, which forced him to resign from DynCorp. Id. at ¶¶ 14-15. Mr. Majid alleges that because of this "defamatory" report, his security clearance has an "incident" associated with it, and that he can no longer obtain comparable employment to his position as a security linguist. Id. at ¶ 17.

         Mr. Majid alleges that, as a result of these false reports, the FBI began investigating him. Id. at ¶ 16. He alleges that two John Doe Agents have been intrusively surveilling him and implying to his employers that he is a security risk and a potential terrorist. Id. at ¶ 18, 25, 26. He alleges that as a consequence of the FBI investigation he has lost multiple jobs. See Id. at ¶¶ 16, 19.

         B. Procedural Background

         Mr. Majid filed his Complaint on April 19, 2016. [Dkt. No. 1] . In Count I, Mr. Majid alleges that Ms. Wallace's reports to the FBI constitute negligent misrepresentation. Id. ¶¶ 27-34. In Count II-IV, Mr. Majid alleges that the John Doe Agents negligently-carried out their investigation, intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon him, and invaded his privacy. Id. ¶¶ 35-45.

         In Count V, Mr. Majid alleges that the FBI violated the Privacy Act, by maintaining inaccurate records about him. Id. ¶¶ 46-50. In Count VI, Mr. Majid alleges that the FBI and the two John Doe Agents deprived him of his rights to procedural due process under the United States' Constitution. Id. ¶¶ 51-57.

         In Count VIII, Mr. Majid alleges that the two John Doe Agents violated his rights to life, liberty and happiness, to travel freely, and to be free of false stigma. Id. ¶¶ 58-64. Finally, in Count VII, Mr. Majid alleges that all of the Defendants violated Sections 51.7 and 52.1 of the California Civil Code, subjecting him to threats based on his race or national origin and interfering with his right to privacy.

         A Summons was issued to the FBI, as well as to the two John Doe Agents, care of the FBI. [Dkt. No. 2-1] . Similarly, a Summons was issued to Ms. Wallace, care of DynCorp. Id. Only the FBI has made an appearance before this Court.[1]

         On August 8, 2016, the FBI filed this Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, seeking dismissal of or judgment on those claims that have been brought against the FBI, contained in Counts V, VI, and VII, and arguing that, if those claims are dismissed, the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the remaining claims. On October 6, 2016, Mr. Majid filed his Opposition. [Dkt. No. 8]. On October 27, 2016, the FBI filed its Reply. [Dkt. No. 9].


         A. Motion to Dismiss

         1. Standard for Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) for Lack of Jurisdiction

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing "only that power authorized by Constitution and statute." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). "It is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the [plaintiff]." Id.; see also Shuler v. United States, 531 F.3d 930, 932 (D.C. Cir. 2008).

         In deciding whether to grant a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction under Rule 12(b) (1), the court must "'accept all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true.'" Jerome Stevens Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. F.D.A., 402 F.3d 1249, 1253-54 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (quoting United States v. Gaubert, 499 U.S. 315, 327 (1991)). Nonetheless, " [t] he plaintiff's factual allegations in the complaint will bear closer scrutiny in resolving a 12(b) (1) motion than in resolving a 12(b) (6) motion for failure to state a claim." Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police v. Ashcroft, 185 F.Supp.2d 9, 13-14 (D.D.C. 2001) .

         2. Standard for Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) for Failure to State a Claim

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits dismissal for the "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted) . A claim is facially-plausible when the pleaded facts "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. Plausibility requires "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully, " but it is not a "probability requirement." Id.

         At the Rule 12(b) (6) stage, the court accepts all of the complaint's factual allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences from those facts in plaintiff's favor. Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir. 2002). In addition to the complaint, the court may consider "other sources, " such as "documents incorporated into the complaint by reference and matters of which a court may take judicial notice." Tellabs, Inc., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007) (citing 5B Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 1357 (3d ed. 2004) (hereinafter "Wright & Miller))); Maggio, 795 F.3d 57, 62 (D.C. Cir. 2015) . The court may take judicial notice of matters of public record. Abhe & Svoboda, Inc. v. Chao, ...

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