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Colgan v. Mabus

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

September 10, 2013

ADDIE COLGAN, Plaintiff,
RAYMOND E. MABUS, Secretary, Department of the Navy; UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; DOES 1-10, Inclusive, Defendants.


WILLIAM Q. HAYES, District Judge.

The matter before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Raymond E. Mabus and the United States of America. (ECF No. 25).

I. Background

On September 30, 2011, Plaintiff Addie Colgan initiated this action by filing a Complaint against Defendants Raymond E. Mabus, Secretary of the Department of the Navy, and Colleen Altman. (ECF No. 1). The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff was a civilian employee of the Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton from May 1997 to December 31, 2009. The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff's direct supervisor, Colleen Altman, "engaged in a campaign of harassment and intimidation against Plaintiff Colgan, which continued until Plaintiff's forced resignation in December 2009...." Id. at ¶ 11. The Complaint alleges that Defendants disclosed "private and confidential information concerning [Plaintiff's] medical, psychiatric and/or psychological care and treatment obtained at Navy." Id. at ¶ 15. The Complaint asserts the following claims: (1) discrimination and harassment based on disability, 29 U.S.C. § 701, et seq.; (2) retaliation, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., 29 C.F.R. § 1630.12; (3) violation of the Federal Tort Claims Act; (4) violation of privacy, 5 U.S.C. § 552a(b); (5) violation of federal, Constitutional and statutory rights; (6) invasion of privacy, California Civil Code § 56, et seq.; (7) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (8) negligent infliction of emotional distress; and (9) request for injunctive relief.

On June 6, 2012, the Court issued an Order granting in part and denying in part the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants. (ECF No. 17). The Court dismissed all claims except claim four for violation of privacy pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552a(b) and substituted the United States of America as a Defendant in place of Altman.

On July 9, 2013, Defendants filed the Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 25). Defendants move for summary judgment as to the final claim on the following grounds:

(1) Any alleged Privacy Act violations occurring prior to September 30, 2009 are barred by the statute of limitations; (2) Plaintiff has no evidence the Agency disclosed information from a system of records; (3) Plaintiff has no evidence the Agency disclosed any information intentionally or willfully; (4) Plaintiff has no actual damages and has failed to show any causal connection between her claimed damages and any disclosures by the Agency; and (5) the need-to-know exception applies to Plaintiff's supervisors and physicians due to Plaintiff's request for reasonable accommodation of disabilities.

Id. at 1-2.

On August 5, 2013, Plaintiff filed an opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 29). Plaintiff contends that the case is not appropriate for summary judgment because "[g]enuine factual disputes exist regarding Altman's claim that she never disclosed any information gleaned from Plaintiff's medical files to Plaintiff's co-workers." Id. at 5. Plaintiff contends that "Defendant erroneously claims Plaintiff lacks evidence of damages, and intentionally omits Plaintiff's own testimony that because her private medical information was being shared with co-workers she had to look elsewhere for medical treatment, and then began paying copayments for each visit." Id. at 6.

On August 15, 2013, Defendants filed a reply. (ECF No. 32). On September 5, 2013, the Court conducted oral argument on the Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 34).

II. Discussion

A. Standard of Review

"A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense-or the part of each claim or defense-on which summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A material fact is one that is relevant to an element of a claim or defense and whose existence might affect the outcome of the suit. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The materiality of a fact is determined by the substantive law governing the claim or defense. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

The moving party has the initial burden of demonstrating that summary judgment is proper. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 152 (1970). The burden then shifts to the opposing party to provide admissible evidence beyond the pleadings to show that summary judgment is not appropriate. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-24. To avoid summary judgment, the opposing party cannot rest solely on conclusory allegations of fact or law. See Berg v. Kincheloe, 794 F.2d 457, 459 (9th Cir. 1986). Instead, the nonmovant must designate which specific facts show that there is a genuine issue for trial. ...

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