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Davenport v. United States Department of Homeland Security

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 31, 2019

Mark D. Davenport, Plaintiff,
United States Department of Homeland Security, Defendant.


          David G. Campbell, Senior United States District Judge

         Pro se plaintiff Mark D. Davenport sued Defendants Debra Wheeler, James Lundquist, and Kirstjen Neilson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”). Doc. 34. Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's second amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and (6). Doc. 43. The motion is fully briefed. Docs. 46, 47. For the following reasons, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's second amended complaint with prejudice.

         I. Background.

         Plaintiff began participating in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) case in April 2015 as a non-attorney representative for his fiancé, a former employee of the Department of Transportation (“TSA”). Doc. 34 at 5. Debra Wheeler was involved in the EEOC case as a TSA human resources specialist. Id. at 6. According to Plaintiff, his fiancé experienced discriminatory and retaliatory conduct by TSA, which Plaintiff opposed through several EEOC complaints and in proceedings before an Administrative Law Judge.

         Plaintiff alleges that Wheeler accessed his fiancé's personal contact information in TSA's record system without her consent or department authorization and disclosed that information to a third party, including his telephone number and home address. Id. at 6, 7. According to Plaintiff, Wheeler falsely alleged to federal law enforcement that Plaintiff had posed as a federal agent, stalked her at her home, performed a sex act in front of her home, and shot at her window with a gun. Id. at 6-9. Plaintiff asserts that Lundquist released his Social Security number, date of birth, driver's license information, and banking account information to Wheeler. Id. at 9.

         II. Legal Standards.

         “A Rule 12(b)(1) jurisdictional attack may be facial or factual.” Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). In a factual attack, the challenger disputes the truth of the allegations that, by themselves, would otherwise invoke federal jurisdiction.” Safe Air for Everyone, 373 F.3d at 1039. “In a facial attack, the challenger asserts that the allegations contained in the complaint are insufficient on their face to invoke federal jurisdiction.” Id. “The district court resolves a facial attack as it would a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6): Accepting the plaintiff's allegations as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor, the court determines whether the allegations are sufficient as a legal matter to invoke the court's jurisdiction.” Leite v. Crane Co., 749 F.3d 1117, 1121 (9th Cir. 2014). Defendants' 12(b)(1) motion is a facial attack because Defendants, for purposes of the motion, do not substantially challenge the truth of the facts alleged in Plaintiff's complaint. Doc. 43.

         A successful motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) must show either that the complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory or fails to allege facts sufficient to support its theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). A complaint that sets forth a cognizable legal theory will survive a motion to dismiss as long as it contains “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). 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.” Id., 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). When analyzing a complaint for failure to state a claim to relief under Rule 12(b)(6), the well-pled factual allegations are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cousins v. Lockyer, 568 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2009). Legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are not entitled to the assumption of truth, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680, and therefore are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, In re Cutera Sec. Litig., 610 F.3d 1103, 1108 (9th Cir. 2010).

         III. Analysis.

         Plaintiff's second amended complaint alleges two Privacy Act violations, two Title VII violations, and a Fourth Amendment violation. Doc. 34 at 9-13.

         A. The Privacy Act.

         Section 552a(e)(5) of the Privacy Act provides that “[e]ach agency that maintains a system of records shall maintain all records which are used by the agency in making any determination about any individual with such accuracy, relevance, timeliness, and completeness as is reasonably necessary to assure fairness to the individual in the determination.” 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(5). A plaintiff may sue for failure to meet this obligation, but, as Defendants note, the Privacy Act “only permits suits against an ‘agency,' see 5 U.S.C. § 552a(g)(1), and does not apply to individual defendants.” Doc. 43 at 4; see Rouse v. U.S. Dept. of State, 567 F.3d 408, 413 n.3 (9th Cir. 2009); see Hewitt v. Grabicki, 794 F.2d 1373, 1377 (9th Cir. 1986); Hurry v. Fin. Indus. Regulatory Auth. Inc., No. CV-14-02490-PHX-ROS, 2015 WL 11118114, at *7 (D. Ariz. Aug. 5, 2015). Plaintiff asserts violations only against Wheeler and Lundquist. See Doc. 34 at 9-10.

         Plaintiff responds with an extensive elaboration of his factual allegations and citations to federal law discussing the Privacy Act, but does not clearly respond to Defendants' arguments. Doc. 45 at 1-22. Although Plaintiff's Counts 1 and 2 mention only Wheeler and Lundquist, he asserts that he also named the DHS Secretary in his complaint and seems to ask the Court to construe Counts 1 and 2 as being alleged against Secretary Nielsen, as well. See Id. at 2. But “Plaintiff cannot amend his . . . complaint merely by discussing unpled claims in a response to a motion to dismiss.” Piper v. Gooding & Co. Inc., No. CV-18-00244-PHX-DLR, 2018 WL 924947 (D. Ariz. Feb. 15, 2018). Nor can the Court look to Plaintiff's proposed amendments on this issue because Counts 1 and 2 in Plaintiff's proposed third amended complaint remain unchanged. See Doc. 46 at 10.

         Defendants also argue that Plaintiff has failed again to sufficiently plead pecuniary and economic harm. Docs. 34 at 12, 43 at 7-9, 33 at 4-5; FAA v. Cooper, 566 U.S. 284, 299, 304 (2012). Plaintiff alleges that he has suffered “monetary damages caused as a result of the stress and impact on [his] physical health and necessity to retain counsel, ” and “[p]ecuniary damages for medical expenses and other costs caused as a direct result of Defendants' actions.” Doc. 34 at 2, 12. These general statements are insufficient to ...

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