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Tankersley v. Almand

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 23, 2014

MICHAEL TANKERSLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES W. ALMAND, et al., Defendants

For Michael Tankersley, Plaintiff: Scott Michelman, PRO HAC VICE, Public Citizen Litigation Group, Washington, DC; James R Klimaski, Klimaski and Associates PC, Washington, DC.

For James W. Almand, in his official capacity as Trustee of the Client Protection Fund, Douglas M. Bregman, in his official capacity as Trustee of the Client Protection Fund, Barbara Ann Spicer, in her official capacity as Trustee of the Client Protection Fund, William V. Meyers, in his official capacity as Trustee of the Client Protection Fund, Cecelia Ann Keller, in her official capacity as Trustee of the Client Protection Fund, Patrick A. Roberson, in his official capacity as Trustee of the Client Protection Fund, Leonard H. Shapiro, in his official capacity as Trustee of the Client Protection Fund, Donna Hill Stateon, in her official capacity as Trustee of the Client Protection Fund, David Weiss, in his official capacity as Trustee of the Client Protection Fund, Client Protection Fund of the Bar of Maryland, Honorable Mary Ellen Barbera, Chief Judge, in her official capacity, Honorable Sally D. Adkins, Judge, in her official capacity, Honorable Lynne A Battaglia, Judge, in her official capacity, Honorable Clayton Greene, Jr., Judge, in his official capacity, Honorable Glenn T. Harrell, Jr., Judge, in his official capacity, Honorable Robert N. McDonald, Judge, in his official capacity, Honorable Shirley Watts, Judge, in her official capacity, Bessie M. Decker, in her official capacity as Clerk of the Court of Appeals, Maryland Court of Appeals, Defendants: Michele J. McDonald, LEAD ATTORNEY, State of Maryland Office of the Attorney General, Baltimore, MD.

Page 630

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Richard D. Bennett, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Michael Tankersley (" Mr. Tankersley" or " Plaintiff" ) brings this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Defendants Michael Almand, et al.[1] (" Defendants" ), alleging violations of Section 7 of the Federal Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, and the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, U.S. Const. art. VI. Currently pending before this Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 6) and Defendants'

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Motion to Dismiss, or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (" Motion to Dismiss" ) (ECF No. 17). The parties' submissions have been reviewed and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff Michael Tankersley's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 6) is MOOT[2] and Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, construed as a Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 17), is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

In a ruling on a motion to dismiss, this Court must accept the factual allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs. See, e.g., Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999).

In 1965, the Maryland legislature directed the Maryland Court of Appeals to establish the Client Protection Fund[3] (" the Fund" ) to " maintain the integrity of the legal profession by paying money to reimburse losses caused by defalcations of lawyers." Md. Code Ann., Bus. Occ. & Prof. § 10-310, et seq. (2014); Compl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 1. To that end, the Court of Appeals may issue a rule requiring Maryland-barred lawyers to pay an annual fee. Md. Code Ann., Bus. Occ. & Prof. § 10-311(c). If a lawyer fails to pay the specified fee, then the Court of Appeals may impose certain penalties. Id.

Beginning in 1993, the Maryland General Assembly ordered the Fund to compile a list of individuals who paid their annual fee and provide the list to the Department of Assessments and Taxation. See Assessments and Taxation Department -- Information -- Health and Business Occupations, Professions 1993 Maryland Laws Ch. 351 (H.B. 1052). This list was compiled for the express purpose of " assist[ing] the Department of Assessments and Taxation in identifying new business within the State" by including " [t]he federal tax identification number (" FTIN" ) of the person or, if the person does not have a federal tax identification number, the social security number of the person." Id.

Four years later, the Maryland General Assembly imposed additional obligations on " licensing authorities" to collect and report the Social Security numbers of applicants. See Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 10-119.3(b). Specifically, a licensing authority must " (1) require each applicant for a license to disclose the Social Security number of the applicant; and (2) record the applicant's Social Security number on the application." Id. The Court of Appeals of Maryland was expressly designated as a licensing authority in 2007, making the Fund the instrument by which collection of Social Security numbers would be achieved. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 10-119.3(a)(3)(ii)(14). The following year, the Maryland General Assembly codified this obligation, adding the requirement that the list be provided to the Comptroller of Maryland in addition to the State Department of Assessments and Taxation. See Md. Code Ann., Bus. Occ. & Prof. § 10-313.

In accordance with the command of Section 10-313, then-Chief Judge Robert M. Bell of the Maryland Court of Appeals sent a letter to all Maryland attorneys on August 13, 2009, directing them to provide the Fund with either their Social Security

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number or tax identification number on the attached form. Mot. to Dismiss Ex. 2 Attach. A, ECF No. 17-2. Chief Judge Bell emphasized that the disclosure was mandatory, explaining that " the statutory authority for this request is Md. Code Ann., Bus. Occ. & Prof. Art. § 10-313 and Fam. Law Art. § 10-119.3." Id. Finally, he stated that both the letter and the actions taken by the Maryland ...


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