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Jacquelyn B. N‟Jai v. Pittsburgh Board of Public Education

July 28, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Nora Barry Fischer


I. Introduction

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Pittsburgh Board of Public Education‟s (the "Board") Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 116) Plaintiff‟s Amended Complaint (Docket No. 106). The Board argues that Plaintiff has failed to allege facts sufficient to set forth a claim upon which relief can be granted. This matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition. For the reasons discussed herein, the Board‟s motion (Docket No. [13]) is GRANTED.

II. Procedural History

On October 8, 2010, N‟Jai filed a Complaint against the Board, among other defendants. (Docket No. 4). Because N‟Jai referred to several of the defendants as "Defendants" throughout her Complaint, it was unclear which claims she asserted against each defendant. Although N‟Jai‟s claims were not well articulated, her claims against the Board seemed to be primarily for invasion of privacy and retaliation. On December 21, 2010, the Board filed a Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 10) and a supporting brief (Docket No. 11).*fn1 Plaintiff filed a brief in opposition to the Board‟s motion on January 3, 2011 (Docket No. 18). On May 2, 2011, N‟Jai filed an Amended Complaint wherein she attempted to clarify her claims against the Board. (Docket No. 106). The Board‟s Motion to Dismiss was denied without prejudice on May 4, 2011 as a result of the filing of the Amended Complaint which rendered the motion moot.

In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff‟s claims against the Board are narrowed to Count VIII for the Board‟s alleged violation of the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, and Count IX for the state law tort cause of action of intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Docket No. 106 at 72-81). Subsequently, the Board filed the present Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff‟s Amended Complaint. (Docket No. 115) and supporting brief (Docket No. 116). Plaintiff filed a response to the motion. (Docket No. 121). The matter is now fully briefed and ripe for decision.

III. Factual Background

Jacquelyn B. N‟Jai was employed as a teacher by the Board from 1990 to 2001. (Docket No. 104-5 ¶ 1). After her termination on Oct. 25, 2001, N‟Jai applied for retirement benefits from the Public School Employees‟ Retirement System*fn2 ("PSERS") and was granted a pension benefit in December, 2001. (Docket No. 104-3 ¶¶ 13, 23-25, 27). From that point onward, N‟Jai began receiving a monthly pension payment (Docket No. 104-3 ¶ 27). At the time of her discharge, N‟Jai had a mailing address of P.O. Box 10133, Pittsburgh, PA 15232 ("P.O. Box"). This address had been her mailing address since 1990, and was the address provided to PSERS in 2001. (Docket No. 104-5 ¶¶ 7, 12, 17).

In 2001, inaccurate information attached to N‟Jai‟s PSERS account resulted in her receiving reduced benefits for that year, and in 2001-2003 the Board withheld a "substantial" portion of her pay due to the reduction. (Docket No. 104-3 ¶¶ 30-31). In 2003, PSERS sent a faxed request to the Board asking for N‟Jai‟s salary information for January, and February of 2000 and an explanation for why she received a 34% pay increase at the start of the 1997-98 school year. (Docket No. 116 at 12).*fn3 A Board employee provided two handwritten notes explaining the pay increase was a result of N‟Jai‟s advancement to step 10 on the teacher‟s salary scale, and that her salary in January and February was lower than originally reported due to absences. (Id.).

N‟Jai worked part-time for the Wilkinsburg School District for the 2004-05 school year, and one deduction was taken from her pay for her PSERS retirement account but was later refunded to her. (Docket No. 104-5 ¶¶ 7, 9-11). In November, 2004, N‟Jai also obtained employment at the Imani Christian Academy, a private school. (Docket No. 99 ¶¶ 5); (Docket No. 106 ¶ 53). By 2006, N‟Jai was no longer employed by Wilkinsburg. (Docket No. 99 ¶ 6).

Between 2005 and 2010, the Board accessed N‟Jai‟s PSERS account on multiple occasions, presumably using her name, address, and social security number to do so, and updated it without her knowledge or consent, changing her mailing address from the P.O. Box address to the Rebecca Avenue address. (Docket No. 104-3 ¶¶ 33, 37, 40-41). The first unauthorized address change occurred in 2005. (Docket No. 116 at 10). Sometime between 2005 and 2007, N‟Jai moved from her Rebecca Avenue residence without informing the Board of her change in address. (Docket No. 99 ¶¶ 8-9); (Docket No. 104-5 ¶¶ 12-13).

In January of 2007, PSERS attempted to mail several documents to N‟Jai‟s Rebecca Avenue address but they were returned to sender. (Docket No. 104-5 ¶ 16). In January or February of 2007, PSERS attempted to mail an envelope to N‟Jai‟s Rebecca Avenue address but the envelope was undeliverable. Since PSERS had requested "address service," the U.S. Postal Service sent PSERS a form listing N‟Jai‟s P.O. Box address as her current mailing address. (Docket No. 99 ¶ 12). On April 4, 2007, PSERS sent a letter to N‟Jai‟s P.O. Box address notifying her that PSERS may have important information for her, but that it needed a confirmation of her current mailing address. (Docket No. 99 ¶ 13). The letter required N‟Jai to fill out a form before PSERS could update N‟Jai‟s address, and the form required her social security number, date of birth, current address, telephone number, and signature. N‟Jai completed the form and PSERS received it on April 19, 2007. (Id.). That same year, PSERS changed N‟Jai‟s mailing address back to the P.O. Box address. (Docket No. 104-5 ¶ 17).

In February, 2008, PSERS sent a letter to N‟Jai‟s Rebecca Avenue address informing her that PSERS had deducted contributions from her wages for the 2004-2005 school year due to her employment with the Wilkinsburg School District. (Docket No. 99 ¶ 14). It further stated that since she did not meet the minimum employment requirements for the 2004-05 school year, her contributions totaling $512.37 were to be returned to her. The letter was returned to PSERS as undeliverable on March 7, 2008. (Id.). On two separate occasions, in or around February, 2009 and January, 2010, PSERS mailed a 1099 Federal Income Tax Form to N‟Jai‟s Rebecca Avenue address, but they were returned to sender as undeliverable. (Docket No. 99 ¶¶ 15-16).

On or about February, 2010, a Board employee once again accessed N‟Jai‟s PSERS account without her permission and updated it with erroneous mailing address information, resulting in two of her monthly pension payments being delayed. (Docket No. 104-3 ¶¶ 36, 40). The payments were withheld because PSERS suspected it had not had N‟Jai‟s current mailing address for over a fifteen month period. (Docket No. 99 ¶¶ 10, 17-19). When N‟Jai discovered the payments had not been deposited into her account she contacted PSERS and communicated with several employees via telephone and e-mail, including Sandra J. Boyle and Evelyn Tatovski. (Docket No. 99 ¶ 20). Boyle informed N‟Jai that the Board had updated her address ...

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