Chambers v. United States DOI

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In Chambers v. United States DOI, 568 F.3d 998 (D.C. Cir. 2009), the D.C. Circuit reversed a grant of summary judgment for the government when the plaintiff alleged a violation of the Privacy Act based on an allegation that the Department of Interior had intentionally destroyed an appraisal about an employee, and had performed an inadequate search for it. "As we explained above, Interior's search would not be adequate under the Privacy Act if Interior officials, aware of Chambers's document requests, deliberately destroyed her performance appraisal before completing the search in order to avoid providing the document to her. Such a search would not be "'reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant documents'"--which is what the Privacy Act, like FOIA, requires." 568 F.3d at 1005-06.

The Court further held, however, that the claim for damages under the Privacy Act should be dismissed because it did not satisfy the required four elements that:

"(1) he has been aggrieved by an adverse determination; (2) the [agency] failed to maintain his records with the degree of accuracy necessary to assure fairness in the determination; (3) the [agency's] reliance on the inaccurate records was the proximate cause of the adverse determination; and (4) the [agency] acted intentionally or willfully in failing to maintain accurate records."

Chambers v. United States DOI, 568 F.3d 998, 1007 (D.C. Cir. 2009)