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Wilson v. Nextel Communications

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 2, 2017

BRYAN WILSON, Plaintiff,
v.
NEXTEL COMMUNICATIONS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          TANYA S. CHUTKAN, United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Nextel Communications, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Which Can Be Granted (ECF No. 7). For the reasons discussed below, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The United Attorney for the District of Columbia filed a motion in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on October 19, 2016. (Compl. at 1; see generally Mem. of Law in Support of Nextel Communications, Inc.'s Mot. to Dismiss Pl.'s Compl., ECF No. 7-1 (“Def.'s Mem.”), Ex. B (Government's Opposition to Defendant's Pro Se § 23-110 Motion, United States v. Wilson, No. 2005-FEL-005634 (Super. Ct. Oct. 19, 2016)). Attached to the motion were exhibits, see Def.'s Mem., Ex. A (Subpoena, Case No. I-7086-03), specifically “subpoenas addressed to ‘NEXTEL SUBPOENA COMPLIANCE GROUP[.'”] (Compl. at 1 (emphasis in original)). According to Plaintiff

The subpoena relevant to this complaint is not signed by judge or magistrate and is made to the attention of “BOB HOLLIDAY”. The subpoena instructs “BOB HOLLIDAY” to appear before the Criminal Division Grand Jury of the “4th day of February 2003” as a witness for the grand jury. A separate document attached to the subpoena and identified as an addendum to the subpoena, stating Mr. Holliday is instructed that “in lieu of personal appearance . . . please forward via mail or fax cellsite/celltower location info for (240)882-9466 and (240) 304-6827 for December 12, 2003 through December 13, 2003. This document is not signed or dated.

(Id.). Plaintiff's cell phone number was (240) 882-9466. (Id. at 2).

         According to Plaintiff, “[i]n response to this subpoena NEXTEL disclosed copies of [P]laintiff's cell site/cell tower location records.” (Id.). In addition, two of Defendant's employees “participated in further disclosure of [P]laintiff's cell location information at [p]laintiff's public trial” by “authenticat[ing] the records and explain[ing] the contents of those records.” (Id. at 4). “Law enforcement relied very heavily” on the information Defendant disclosed. (Id.). For example, the information appeared in an affidavit supporting a warrant for Plaintiff's arrest, and it was “the sole evidence at trial to suggest that [P]laintiff was at the crime scene.” (Id.). Plaintiff has asserted that, “[b]ased upon this illegally obtain information [he] was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 66 years in prison.” (Id.).[1]

         Plaintiff brings this action under 18 U.S.C. § 2707 and 47 U.S.C. §§ 205-07. (Compl. at 1). He claims that Defendant's disclosure of cell site and cell tower location information violated 18 U.S.C. § 2703 and 47 U.S.C. § 222, (see Compl. at 1, 4-5), resulting in Plaintiff's “loss of liberty and destruction of reputation, ” (id. at 5). As compensation for Defendant's “willful and intentional violation[s]” of these statutes, Plaintiff demands “an award of damages in the amount of $1, 500, 000 and punitive damages of $5, 000, 000.” (Id. at 5).

         II. DISCUSSION

         Defendant moves to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the ground that the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (See generally Def.'s Mem. at 2-5).[2] It argues that “Plaintiff cannot maintain a cause of action under [the] statutes” on which he relies. (Id. at 3.).

         Plaintiff correctly notes, see Compl. at 2, that, generally, a telecommunications carrier generally “shall only use, disclose, disclose, or permit access to individually identifiable customer proprietary network information in its provision of (A) the telecommunications service from which such information is derived, or (B) services necessary to, or used in, the provision of such telecommunications service, including the publishing of directories.” 47 U.S.C. § 222(c)(1). He conveniently omits the introductory phrase of Section 222 which allows a carrier to disclose information “as required by law.” Id.

         In relevant part, 18 U.S.C. § 2707 provides:

Except as provided in section 2703(e), any provider of electronic communication service, subscriber, or other person aggrieved by any violation of this chapter in which the conduct constituting the violation is engaged in with a knowing or intentional state of mind may, in a civil action, recover from the person or entity, other than the United ...

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