United States District Court, District of Columbia
S. CHUTKAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss or, in the Alternative, to Transfer and to Revoke In
Forma Pauperis Status [ECF No. 11]. For the reasons discussed
below, Defendant's motion to dismiss is GRANTED and its
remaining motions are DENIED.
action proceeds as one under the Privacy Act, see 5
U.S.C. § 552a, against the United States Department of
Justice (“DOJ”). Plaintiff's claim arises
from the alleged unlawful disclosure of “private
protected information, ” (Compl. ¶ 13), by an
Assistant United States Attorney (“AUSA”) who was
representing the United States Department of Housing and
Urban Development (“HUD”) in a matter Plaintiff
had filed in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of California, (see id.
¶¶ 9-10, 13). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that
the AUSA found her “personal and obsolete contact
information from the private and confidential records
maintained by [HUD], ” (id. ¶ 17), and
disclosed Plaintiff's telephone number to the presiding
judge's law clerk, (id. ¶¶ 14, 16;
see id. ¶ 20). Subsequently, Plaintiff had
“lengthy conversations with [the] AUSA about [her]
inappropriate behavior and the damages [the AUSA] would
cause, if unauthorized disclosures were made[.]”
(Id. ¶ 25). According to Plaintiff,
Defendant's conduct “caused [her] damages”
when “she missed medical appointments & financial
opportunities, because she was spending so much time, and
money, trying to contact or follow up with . . .
Defendant” which “intentionally harassed,
defrauded, made illegal disclosures, and impeded
[Plaintiff's] access to the courts in order to thwart the
lawsuit” in the Northern District of California.
(Id. ¶ 27).
filed its Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, to
Transfer and to Revoke In Forma Pauperis Status (ECF No. 11)
on September 8, 2017. Because a ruling on the motion could
dispose of this case, on September 8, 2017, the Court issued
an Order advising Plaintiff of her obligations under the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the rules of this Court.
Specifically, the Court advised Plaintiff that it would treat
Defendant's motion as conceded if she did not file an
opposition or other response by October 19, 2017. To date,
Plaintiff has not filed an opposition or requested additional
time to do so.
Privacy Act regulates the collection, maintenance, use, and
dissemination of information about individuals by federal
agencies.” Wilson v. Libby, 535 F.3d 697, 707
(D.C. Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted). Generally, it prohibits a federal government agency
from “disclos[ing] any record which is contained in a
system of records by any means of communication to any
person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written
request by, or with the prior written consent of, the
individual to whom the record pertains.” 5 U.S.C.
§ 552a(b). If an agency fails to comply with any of the
Privacy Act's provisions in a way which adversely effects
an individual, the agency may be liable for damages.
See 5 U.S.C. § 552a(g)(1)(D); Maydak v.
United States, 630 F.3d 166, 177-78 (D.C. Cir. 2010).
actionable claim generally requires that “a disclosure
. . . be the result of someone having actually retrieved the
‘record' from [a] ‘system of
records.'” Armstrong v. Geithner, 608 F.3d
854, 857 (D.C. Cir. 2010) (quoting 5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)).
The Privacy Act defines the term “record”
as any item, collection, or grouping of information about an
individual that is maintained by an agency, including, but
not limited to, his education, financial transactions,
medical history, and criminal or employment history and that
contains his name, or the identifying number, symbol, or
other identifying particular assigned to the individual, such
as a finger or voice print or a photograph
5 U.S.C. § 552a(a)(4). It defines the term “system
of records” as
a group of any records under the control of any agency from
which information is retrieved by the name of the individual
or by some identifying number, symbol, or other identifying
particular assigned to the individual
5 U.S.C. § 552a(a)(5). The Court has reviewed
Plaintiff's Complaint carefully, and has not found a
single factual allegation to support a Privacy Act claim.
Nowhere does Plaintiff identify a system of records under
Defendant's control from which information actually was
retrieved by Plaintiff's name or other identifier.
Furthermore, Plaintiff's vague description of the harms
allegedly sustained as a result of Defendant's disclosure
cannot support a demand for actual damages that must be
“limited to proven pecuniary or economic
harm.” FAA v. Cooper, 566 U.S. 284, 299 (2012)
Complaint fails to state a Privacy Act claim upon which
relief can be granted and, therefore, Defendant's motion
to dismiss is granted. Its motion to transfer is denied as
moot, and the motion to revoke Plaintiff's in forma