United States District Court, District of Columbia
TIMOTHY W. SHARPE, Plaintiff,
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ACTUARIES, Defendant.
N. MCFADDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Timothy W. Sharpe is an actuary and voluntary member of
defendant American Academy of Actuaries (the
“Academy”), a professional accreditation
association. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 26-27, 36. Mr.
Sharpe's six-count complaint seeks damages and injunctive
relief from the Academy's alleged unlawful dissemination
of information regarding Mr. Sharpe's disciplinary
proceeding within the organization. Id. 29-39.
Pending before the Court is the Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss Am.
Compl. Having confirmed that jurisdiction and venue is proper
in this Court, P0FP and upon consideration of the pleadings,
relevant law, and related legal memoranda in opposition and
in support, I find that all counts in the complaint should be
dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. Accordingly, the Defendant's motion is
GRANTED, and the complaint is DISMISSED.
Sharpe is an actuary who has been practicing the profession
for nearly 30 years. Am. Compl. ¶ 6. Among his clients
are municipalities in the state of Illinois, for which he
provides services related to pension matters. Id.
Throughout his professional career, Mr. Sharpe has been a
voluntary member of the Academy, a professional organization
of actuaries with over 18, 500 members. Id. at
¶¶ 26-27. In March 2014, Mr. Sharpe was the subject
of a complaint filed with the Academy by Tia Sawhney, also an
actuary, who raised concerns about Mr. Sharpe's alleged
failure to comply with actuarial communication standards.
Id. at ¶ 92.
Academy's Bylaws establishes an operating unit within the
Academy, the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline
(“ABCD”), to consider complaints made against
member actuaries and recommend discipline to the Academy.
Id. at ¶¶ 36-40. While the ABCD is part of
the Academy, it also follows its ABCD Rules of Procedure
(“ABCD Rules”) setting forth its disciplinary
process, which was promulgated pursuant to, and consistent
with, the Academy's Bylaws' enabling provision.
See Am. Compl. Ex. 2, Art. X, § 1 (establishing
the ABCD and authorizing it to establish Rules of Procedure);
id. Ex. 3 (the ABCD Rules).P1FP The ABCD does
not itself impose discipline on the subject actuary; rather,
it makes a recommendation to the Academy, which makes a final
determination on whether to discipline the subject actuary,
and, if so, what form it should take. Id. at ¶
40. Possible disciplinary actions include a private
reprimand, public reprimand, suspension, or expulsion.
the Academy's Bylaws and the ABCD Rules contain
provisions governing the confidentiality of disciplinary
proceedings. In the Bylaws, Article Ten provides that
“[e]xcept as otherwise provided in these Bylaws, all
proceedings under this Article shall be kept confidential by
the ABCD, its staff, investigators, and advisers.” Am.
Compl. Ex. 2, Art. X, § 9. In the ABCD Rules, Section
Ten similarly provides that “[t]he ABCD will make a
reasonable effort to keep confidential the facts and
circumstances involved in any matter considered by the ABCD
for possible counseling or recommendations for discipline or
the services of a mediator.” Id. Ex. 3, §
10. However, both governing documents are explicit that the
ABCD can provide the complainant with information on the
disciplinary proceedings. Both documents state that the
“requirement as to confidentiality shall not preclude
the ABCD from  [a]dvising complainants and subject
actuaries about the progress and outcome of matters under
consideration”. Id.; id. Ex. 2, Art.
X, § 9. There is no confidentiality requirement imposed
upon complainants (or, for that matter, the subject of a
Sharpe's case, the Academy held a hearing on December 7,
2015 to consider the allegations, which Mr. Sharpe was unable
to attend due to a serious illness involving his mother.
Id. at ¶ 110. On January 29, 2016, the ABCD
issued a written report recommending that the Academy expel
Mr. Sharpe from membership. Id. at ¶ 112. On
February 9, 2016, an article appeared on a website,
WirePoints, under the headline: “Illinois Fire and
Police Pension Actuary Facing Actuarial Discipline - WP
Exclusive.” Id. Ex. 1. The article, authored
by Mark Glennon, founder of WirePoints, stated that the ABCD
had “recently recommended that Timothy Sharpe, actuary
to dozens of troubled Illinois fire and police pension funds,
be expelled from membership in the [Academy], ” and
that the “recommendation is the result of separate
complaints by two actuaries, one by actuary Tia Goss
Sharpe contends that the Academy and/or ABCD must have
improperly disseminated the ABCD's recommendation of
expulsion, and that this allegedly improper conduct has
resulted in the loss of clients. Id. at ¶¶
131, 139. Accordingly, Mr. Sharpe sued the Academy for breach
of contract, negligence, publication of private facts, denial
of due process and fair procedure, tortious interference with
contract, and tortious interference with prospective business
advantage. Id. at 29-38. The Academy responds that
Mr. Sharpe fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss Am. Compl. For the
reasons that follow, I find that each count in the Amended
Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted, and dismiss the complaint in its entirety.
may move to dismiss a complaint on the ground that it
“fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint contain “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” This requires the
complaint to contain sufficient factual allegations that, if
true, “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). A complaint is insufficient if it merely
offers “‘labels and conclusions'” or
“‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of
‘further factual enhancement.'” Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 546). Rather, “[a]
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Plausibility
“asks for more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully, ” id., and
pleading facts that are “merely consistent with”
a defendant's liability “stops short of the line
between possibility and plausibility.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 545-46.
evaluating a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the
Court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable
to the plaintiff and accept as true all reasonable factual
inferences drawn from well-pled factual allegations. See
In re United Mine Workers of Am. Emp. Benefit Plans
Litig., 854 F.Supp. 914, 915 (D.D.C. 1994). The Court
does not accept as true legal conclusions or
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Last, “[i]n
determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim, [the
court] may consider only the facts alleged in the complaint,
any documents either attached to or incorporated in the
complaint and matters of which [the court] may take judicial
notice.” Hurd v. District of Columbia
Gov't, 864 F.3d 671, 678 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (quoting
EEOC v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d
621, 624 (D.C. Cir. 1997)).
matter is properly before the Court based on diversity of
citizenship, P2FP I must first address which state law
controls Mr. Sharpe's claims. See Erie R.R. Co. v.
Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938). In this District, the
Court must first determine whether there is a conflict
between the laws of the relevant jurisdictions, and if not,
apply the law of the District of Columbia. GEICO v.
Fetisoff, 958 F.2d 1137, 1141 (D.C. Cir. 1992). The
Defendant argues that no “true conflict” exists
between District of Columbia law and Illinois law, Mem. of P.
& A. in Support of Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss Am. Compl.
21-24, and the Plaintiff does not address the issue in his
brief. Having reviewed the laws of both jurisdictions, I
agree with the Defendant that no “true conflict”
exists. See GEICO, 958 F.2d at 1141. Analyzing the
Amended Complaint under District of Columbia law, I find that
the Plaintiff has failed to state a claim on each of the