Former FBI Agent Can’t Wage Privacy Act Claim

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge dismissed Privacy Act claims filed by an FBI special agent who said the “be on the lookout” report the agency issued on him made him unemployable and gave his wife ammunition in the couple’s divorce proceedings.
     Michael Dick sued Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey in 2013 after the nationwide “BOLO” report was issued by the agency in response to frustrated comments he made to members of the agency’s Health Services Unit.
     According to U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras’ ruling, Dick injured his hand during his quarterly firearms qualification test, but medical help was hard to come by.
     Dick couldn’t be seen by a FBI doctor because his hand injury kept him from filling out a required questionnaire, and a private healthcare provider turned him away because the injury was too serious. An urgent care facility cleaned the wound, but a doctor wouldn’t see him until the Health Services Unit authorized treatment.
     According to the ruling, Dick finally received treatment, but after driving 72 miles to his house, the Health Services Unit refused to authorize his pharmacy to give him medication and pain killers.
     “Still in pain and increasingly agitated by the lack of response from the Health Services Unit, Agent Dick told a Health Services Unit employee over the telephone that ‘he would personally come to the [FBI] to straighten out the approval process,'” the judge writes in his ruling. “Agent Dick also ‘expressed displeasure at [Assistant Director of Human Resources] Bennett personally because the Health Unit employee claimed that Mr. Bennett had limited their ability to communicate approval authority and had revoked issuance of cell phones to facilitate address requests.'”
     Those statements led to the FBI’s “be on the lookout” alert, describing Dick as a subject of interest to every level of law enforcement nationwide.
     Dick claimed that the alert violated the Privacy Act by releasing personal information about him; specifically, that he had made threats to FBI personnel and that he was on administrative leave pending an investigation.
     “In addition, the BOLO contained personal information about Agent Dick, including a ‘grim faced picture’ of him, his social security number, and his address,” the judge notes.
     Dick argued that the BOLO cost him his security clearance and outside employment opportunities, as well as got him shunned by his neighbors and peers. He also claimed that his wife used the alert in their divorce proceedings.
     But Judge Contreras dismissed Dick’s claims, stating that he had failed to exhaust the administrative remedies available through the Bureau, and therefore the court lacked jurisdiction.
     The judge also ruled that the agency did not violate the Privacy Act by releasing Dick’s personal information, or at least Dick failed to prove that it did, and further that he failed to link the alert with the his suspension and other consequences.

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