United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
September 15, 2005.
THOMAS R. JONES, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES PAROLE COMMISSION, Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: YVETTE KANE, District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Thomas Jones, an inmate at the Allenwood Low Security
Correctional Institution in White Deer, Pennsylvania, commenced
this pro se action with a complaint (Doc. 1) under the
Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a. Named as Defendant is the United
States Parole Commission. The complaint alleges that Defendant
violated "the `Privacy Act' . . . by the Commission using
inaccurate, incomplete records (information) in making a
determination of the appellant's parole eligibility, and a
determination when the appellant should be scheduled for a
rehearing, which lead (sic) to an adverse determination which the
appellant has been aggrieved by." (Doc. 1, p. 2). For relief,
Plaintiff seeks monetary damages in the amount of $650,000.00.
This matter comes before the Court on the Defendant's motion to
dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment (Doc. 15).
The motion has been fully briefed, and it is ripe for
disposition. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion
to dismiss will be granted.
The facts are not in dispute. On August 13, 1997, Plaintiff was
sentenced by the District of Columbia Superior Court to a term of
eight (8) to twenty-four (24) years imprisonment for second
degree murder. Thereafter, Plaintiff was considered for parole in
an initial parole hearing on April 4, 2000. At his hearing, Plaintiff was denied parole, and he was set for a rehearing in
sixty (60) months, constituting a departure from the guideline
range of eighteen (18) to twenty-four (24) months. Plaintiff
claims that the guideline departure was based upon incorrect
information contained in the presentence report ("PSR") prepared
by Defendant, and he seeks monetary damages for the allegedly
improper guideline departure. Defendant claims that the complaint
should be dismissed as untimely. The Court agrees.*fn1
A. Motion to Dismiss Standard
In rendering a decision on a motion to dismiss, the Court must
accept the Plaintiff's allegations as true. White v. Napoleon,
897 F.2d 103, 106 (3d Cir. 1990). A motion to dismiss may only be
granted if there is no reasonable reading of the facts that would
entitle Plaintiff to relief. Lum v. Bank of America,
361 F.3d 217, 223 (3d Cir. 2004). The Court should consider the
allegations in the complaint, the exhibits attached thereto,
matters of public record, and "undisputedly authentic" documents.
See Angstadt v. Midd-West School Dist., 377 F.3d 338, 342 (3d
Cir. 2004); Pension Guar. Corp. White Consol. Indus., Inc.,
998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). A complaint that does not
establish entitlement to relief under any reasonable
interpretation is properly dismissed without leave to amend.
Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d 103, 106 (3d Cir.
2002). Nevertheless, the Court is mindful that pro se
complaints should be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). B. Statute of Limitations
Defendant argues that Plaintiff's complaint should be dismissed
because it is barred by the applicable statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for a Privacy Act claim is set forth
in § 552a(g)(5). Section 552a(g)(5) states, in relevant part,
that "an action to enforce any liability created under this
section may be brought . . . two years from the date on which the
cause of action arises." Plaintiff's complaint was filed on July
19, 2004. Attached to the complaint is a copy of an undated
letter from Plaintiff to Case Services Deputy Administrator, Mrs.
Helen Herman (Doc. 1, Ex. 2(a)). In the correspondence, Plaintiff
is asking reconsideration of a determination from Mrs. Herman,
dated April 15, 2002, denying Plaintiff's request to reopen his
parole review. Plaintiff states "I beg to differ from the [denial
of my request to reopen] . . . in that the reason that the
Commission denied me parole, and went outside of the guidelines
are (sic) based on information which is inaccurate." (Id. at
1.) Thus, it is clear that Plaintiff was aware that the allegedly
inaccurate PSR was used by the Defendant to go outside the
guidelines prior to April 15, 2002.
Moreover, Plaintiff states that "[t]he first time [he] was made
aware that the offense description outlined in the [PSR] was used
. . . to take the plaintiff above [the guidelines] was when the
plaintiff filed the motion for habeas corpus on
12-20-2000. . . ." (Doc. 21 at 6.) Therefore, Plaintiff confirms
that he learned of his claim in or around December of 2000, three
and a half years before the complaint was filed. The complaint and
the documents attached reveal that Plaintiff was aware of the
allegedly inaccurate information used as a basis for exceeding
the guidelines more than two years before this case was filed.
Accordingly, Plaintiff's claim is barred by the Privacy Act's
statute of limitations, and Defendant's motion to dismiss will be
granted. An appropriate order follows.
IV. Order AND NOW, THIS 15th DAY OF SEPTEMBER, 2005, in accordance
with the foregoing memorandum, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
1. Defendant's motion to dismiss (Doc. 15)
Plaintiff's complaint is GRANTED.
2. The Clerk of Court is directed to enter judgment
in favor of Defendant and against Plaintiff.
3. The Clerk of Court shall close this case.
4. Any appeal from this Order will be deemed
frivolous, without good cause, and not taken in good
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