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Tyler v. U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons

United States District Court, District of Columbia

May 31, 2018

LAWRENCE T. TYLER, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          EMMET G. SULLIVAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff is a federal prisoner appearing pro se. In the Complaint styled as brought under the Privacy Act, the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), and the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), plaintiff challenges the accuracy of information contained in his presentence investigation report (“PSI”) and the alleged adverse effect it is having on his custody in Folkston, Georgia. Plaintiff has sued the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”), BOP contractor GEO Group, Inc., which operates the facility where plaintiff is incarcerated, and several GEO employees in their official capacities.

         Pending are the separate motions of BOP and the GEO defendants to dismiss. Each motion seeks dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) for improper venue and Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Also pending is plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment as to liability. The Court finds that this venue is proper but that plaintiff has stated no viable claim.[1] Therefore, the defendants' motions will be granted, plaintiff's motion will be denied, and this case will be dismissed for the reasons explained more fully below.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas convicted plaintiff of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, seven counts of health care fraud, and one count of money laundering. United States v. Tyler, 626 Fed.Appx. 511, 512 (5th Cir. 2015) (per curiam). As a result, plaintiff is serving a 72-month prison sentence. In addition, plaintiff must serve three years of supervised release and pay restitution. Id.

         Plaintiff has expended an inordinate amount of ink on irrelevant facts pertaining to his trial and convictions. See Compl. at 4-36. Relevant to this action are plaintiff's allegations that (1) his custody is based on “inaccurate” and/or “incomplete” information in the PSI with regard to “loss amount” and his U.S. citizenship, and (2) defendants have taken no “reasonable steps” to verify the challenged information. Id. at 37-38. As a result, plaintiff alleges, he has suffered “adverse determination[s] . . . such as longer detention, and a restitution award of $1, 238, 823.08.”[2] Id. at 37.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A defendant may move to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In considering such a motion, the “complaint is construed liberally in the plaintiff['s] favor, and [the Court] grant[s] plaintiff[ ] the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged.” Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). “However, the [C]ourt need not accept inferences drawn by [the] plaintiff[ ] if such inferences are unsupported by the facts set out in the complaint.” Id. Nor must the Court accept “a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation, ” nor “naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Aktieselskabet AF 21. November 2001 v. Fame Jeans Inc., 525 F.3d 8, 17 n.4 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (noting that the D.C. Circuit has “never accepted legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations” (internal quotation marks omitted)). Ordinarily on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court considers only “the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint, and matters about which the Court may take judicial notice.” Gustave-Schmidt v. Chao, 226 F.Supp.2d 191, 196 (D.D.C. 2002) (citing EEOC v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624-25 (D.C. Cir. 1997)).

         “To survive a [Rule 12(b)(6)] 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.' ” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when the pleaded factual content “allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678. Although a pro se complaint “must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted), it too “must plead ‘factual matter' that permits the court to infer ‘more than the mere possibility of misconduct, ' ” Atherton v. District of Columbia Office of the Mayor, 567 F.3d 672, 681-82 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Because plaintiff's claims are predicated on the alleged incorrectness of his PSI contained in his prison file, judicial review is authorized solely under the Privacy Act. See Griffin v. Ashcroft, No. 02-5399, 2003 WL 22097940, at *2 (D.C. Cir. Sept. 3, 2003) (affirming “the district court's dismissal of appellant's constitutional claims based on the BOP's alleged maintenance and use of inaccurate information because such claims are encompassed within the Privacy Act's comprehensive remedial scheme”) (citing Chung v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 333 F.3d 273, 274 (D.C. Cir. 2003)). For this reason, the Court hereby dismisses (1) any APA claim, since “a plaintiff cannot bring an APA claim to obtain relief for an alleged Privacy Act violation, ” Westcott v. McHugh, 39 F.Supp.3d 21, 33 (D.D.C. 2014), and (2) the claims against the named individual defendants and GEO Group, Inc., since “the Privacy Act does not apply to government contractors, ” Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Blyther, 964 F.Supp.2d 61, 71 (D.D.C. 2013) (citing cases). See Abdelfattah v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., 787 F.3d 524, 533 n.4 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (“[T]he Privacy Act creates a cause of action against only federal government agencies and not private corporations or individual officials.”) (citations omitted), and Martinez v. Bureau of Prisons, 444 F.3d 620, 624 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (concluding that “the district court properly dismissed the named individual defendants because no cause of action exists that would entitle appellant to relief from them under the Privacy Act or FOIA”) (citations omitted)).

         In addition, plaintiff has mentioned the FOIA but has not alleged that BOP withheld agency records to state a claim under FOIA. See Banks v. Lappin, 539 F.Supp.2d 228, 235 (D.D.C. 2008) (“Federal jurisdiction over a FOIA claim is dependent upon a showing that an agency improperly withheld agency records.”) (citing Kissinger v. Reporters Comm. for Freedom of the Press, 445 U.S. 136, 150 (1980)). Accordingly, any FOIA claim is dismissed as well.

         Subsection (e)(5) of the Privacy Act requires that an agency:

maintain all records which are used by the agency in making any determination about any individual with such accuracy, relevance, timeliness, and completeness as to assure ...

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