United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
RANDALL L. SPADE, Plaintiff.
THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Defendant.
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge
United States Department of Justice moved to dismiss
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. For the reasons that
follow, that motion will be granted.
relevant times, Plaintiff Randall Spade was employed as a
correctional officer at the United States Penitentiary in
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. In September 2011, Mr. Spade learned
that Defendant, the United States Department of Justice
(“DOJ”), had inadvertently divulged Mr.
Spade's personal information when responding to an
inmate's Freedom of Information Act
request. This suit followed.
Spade's Amended Complaint contains two counts. The first,
brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act, states that the
DOJ's handling and release of his personal information
was negligent. The second likewise contends that the
DOJ's actions were negligent, but is brought under the
Pennsylvania Political Subdivision Tort Claims
Standard of Review
considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted,  a court assumes the truth of
all factual allegations in the plaintiff's complaint and
draws all inferences in favor of that party; the court does
not, however, assume the truth of any of the complaint's
legal conclusions. If a complaint's factual allegations,
so treated, state a claim that is plausible - i.e.,
if they allow the court to infer the defendant's
liability - the motion is denied; if they fail to do so, the
motion is granted.
Whether Mr. Spade's Claim is Actionable Under the Federal
Tort Claims Act
Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) provides a
remedy for certain injuries caused by federal employees, by
holding the United States liable “in the same manner
and to the same extent as a private individual under like
circumstances.” To prevail on his negligence-based FTCA
claim, then, Mr. Spade must show that the DOJ's conduct
violated a duty owed to him under Pennsylvania
Spade has not satisfied his burden. Specifically, he has not
pointed to any Pennsylvania authority creating liability for
the negligent handling or disclosure of personal information,
nor has this Court been able to find any. Because the
DOJ's actions-while unfortunate-are not actionable under
state tort law, they are not actionable under the FTCA.
Consequently, this claim will be dismissed.
Whether Mr. Space May Bring a Claim Against the United States
Under the Pennsylvania Political Subdivision Tort Claims
Pennsylvania Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act waives
Pennsylvania's sovereign immunity for certain claims
brought against “local agenc[ies].” Because the
DOJ is not a local agency, this claim will be dismissed.