Warren v. Colvin, No. 13-2536 (2d Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
After plaintiff sought to obtain records from the SSA related to his father's disability status in order to support his efforts to obtain proceeds of his father's life insurance policy, plaintiff filed suit pro se alleging that the failure to provide the requested records violated the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552. The SSA eventually voluntarily provided the requested records to plaintiff. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the dismissal of his claim for damages and litigation fees under the Privacy Act and FOIA. The court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's claim for damages under the Privacy Act because the Act guarantees access only to an individual's own records and does not require federal agencies to provide information that pertains to a requesting individual, but is contained in another individual's records. However, because FOIA allows for fee shifting where, as here, a federal agency voluntarily complies with a requested disclosure following the filing of a FOIA lawsuit, the court vacated that portion of the district court's judgment denying plaintiff's request for $350 in litigation costs and remanded with instructions.