7.07.2006

N.D. Cal. Alludes to Split Re Emotional Distress Damages under Privacy Act

Per Stafford v. Social Sec. Admin., Slip Copy, 2006 WL 1795120 (N.D.Cal. June 28, 2006):

Finally, the Court notes the Circuit split on whether a plaintiff may recover damages for emotional distress under the Privacy Act, which the Ninth Circuit has not yet addressed. Compare Johnson v. Dep't of Treasury, 700 F.2d 971 (5th Cir.1983) (compensation allowed for proven mental injuries), with Fitzpatrick v. IRS, 665 F.2d 327, 331 (11th Cir.1982) (no compensation for “generalized mental injuries, loss of reputation, embarrassment or other non-quantifiable injuries”); see also Hudson v. Reno, 130 F.3d 1193, 1207 (6th Cir.1997); Orekoya v. Mooney, 330 F.3d 1, 7-10 (1st Cir. 2003). The Supreme Court explicitly left the question unresolved in Doe v. Chao, 540 U.S. 614, 627 n. 12. Because there is a triable issue of fact on causation, the Court need not address the issue unless and until Plaintiff establishes that her damages were caused by the disclosure at trial.

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