United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
ERNEST J. PAGELS, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DKT. NO.
PAMELA PEPPER United States District Judge
22, 2015, plaintiff Ernest J. Pagels, Jr., who is
representing himself, filed a complaint against the United
States Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”).
Dkt. No. 1. The plaintiff asks the court to enter an order
compelling OPM to give him a copy of the medical records that
the United States Postal Service (“USPS”)
allegedly used to determine that he is ineligible for
employment with the USPS. See Doc. 1-2, at 2. The
government has moved for summary judgment, contending that
the court should enter judgment in its favor because the
plaintiff did not exhaust his administrative remedies to
obtain his medical records through agency procedures
available to him. Dkt. No. 9, at 1. For the reasons explained
in this order, the court will grant the government’s
plaintiff is a United States Air Force veteran, and he is
disabled. He was employed by the USPS in the past, and he has
been unsuccessful in his attempts to secure another position
with the USPS. According to the Declaration of Erin M.
Dimick, an Employment and Placement Specialist for the USPS,
in June 2015, the plaintiff applied for employment with the
USPS in Warren, Pennsylvania. Dkt. No. 9 at 3, ¶5. In a
letter dated July 7, 2015, the USPS advised the plaintiff
that he was not qualified to be employed by the USPS due to
his medical history. Dkt. No. 1-2 at 1.
July 7, 2015, letter from the USPS upon which the plaintiff
bases his claim was issued in error, because the USPS used
the wrong “template letter” to communicate its
adverse decision to the plaintiff. Dkt. No. 9 at 3-4,
¶¶3-13. The plaintiff was not denied employment
with the USPS based on any medical reason. Id. at 4,
¶11. Instead, the USPS deemed the plaintiff unsuitable
for employment because of his prior employment history with
USPS and the fact that the Postal Service has an active
restraining order against the plaintiff. Id.,
¶12. On September 1, 2015, the USPS sent a corrected
letter to the plaintiff, explaining the correct reason for
his disqualification. Id., ¶13. Before filing
this case, the plaintiff did not submit a request for a copy
of his medical records with either OPM or the USPS, the
agency which allegedly used the records to deny him a USPS
job. Id. at 3, ¶¶1-2.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARDS
must grant summary judgment when there is no genuine dispute
as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548
(1986). A court appropriately grants summary judgment
“against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient
to establish the existence of an element essential to that
party’s case, and on which that party will bear the
burden of proof at trial.” Id. The
“purpose of summary judgment is to pierce the pleadings
and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a
genuine need for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus.
Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct.
1348 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation
omitted). “A party will be successful in opposing
summary judgment only when they present definite, competent
evidence to rebut the motion.” EEOC v. Sears,
Roebuck & Co., 233 F.3d 432, 437 (7th Cir. 2000).
facts” are those facts which “might affect the
outcome of the suit, ” and a dispute about a material
fact is “genuine” if a reasonable finder of fact
could find in favor of the nonmoving party. See Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct.
2505 (1986). The party opposing summary judgment cannot
simply rest on allegations or denials in its pleadings; it
must also introduce affidavits or other evidence setting
forth specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial.
Anders v. Waste Mgm’t of Wisconsin, 463 F.3d
670, 675 (7th Cir. 2006). The court views all facts and draws
all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party,
Tanner v. Jupiter Realty Corp., 433 F.3d 913, 915
(7th Cir. 2006), but “inferences that are supported by
only speculation or conjecture will not defeat a summary
judgment motion, ” Herzog v. Graphic Packaging
Int’l, Inc., 742 F.3d 802, 806 (7th Cir. 2014)
(quoting Tubergen v. St. Vincent Hosp. & Health Care
Ctr., Inc., 517 F.3d 470, 473 (7th Cir. 2008)).
court must grant the defendant’s motion for summary
judgment, because the plaintiff did not first exhaust his
administrative remedies by requesting the USPS and OPM to
provide him with copies of his medical records before filing
his complaint. The Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. §552a,
governs this case because the plaintiff requests the
production of records pertaining to himself and no one else.
Id, §552a(b). The Act provides in relevant
No agency shall disclose any record which is contained in a
system of records by any means of communication to any
person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written
request by, or with the prior written consent of, the
individual to whom the record pertains . . . .
* * *
Each agency that maintains a system of records shall . . .
upon request by any individual to gain access to his record
or to any information pertaining to him which is contained in
the system, permit him and upon his request, a person of his
own choosing to accompany him, to review the record and have
a copy made of all or any portion thereof in a form
comprehensible to him, except that the agency may require the
individual to furnish a written statement authorizing
discussion of that individual's record in the
accompanying person's presence . . . .
Id., §552a(b), (d)(1). The Privacy Act allows
an individual to bring a civil action against an agency in a
federal district court if the agency “refuses to comply
with an individual request under subsection (d)(1) of this
section.” Id., §552a(g)(1). If the agency
has adopted procedures relating to handling requests for
records, the individual must submit his request to the agency
before filing a complaint. E.g., Bravata v. Securities