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Lambert v. Kelley

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

January 19, 2017

RICHARD LAMBERT, Plaintiff,
v.
PATRICK KELLEY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         Before the Court are two motions. First is Patrick Kelley's motion to dismiss Richard Lambert's claim against him. [D. 33]. Second is Lambert's motion to amend his complaint. [D. 45]. For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss is granted and the motion to amend is denied.

         I

         A

         Richard Lambert was an FBI agent 1989-2012. In 2002, he was placed in charge of the FBI's investigation into the post-9/11 anthrax attacks. Lambert found his efforts marked by intransigence, apathy, and error from all sides. He summarized these problems in a July 2006 report that he sent to the FBI's Deputy Director. Lambert left the investigation around that time.

         During the investigation, the Government named Steven Hatfill as a person of interest. He responded by suing the Government in D.C. federal court. During discovery, Hatfill's attorney acquired several emails written by Lambert detailing his complaints about the anthrax investigation. And when Hatfill's lawyer deposed Lambert, further complaints came out.

         Hatfill's attorney then approached CBS about bringing to light the problems with the anthrax investigation. In April 2008, 60 Minutes aired an episode that used Lambert's emails and deposition testimony to reveal those problems. It led to public and congressional backlash against the FBI.

         Lambert kept working for the FBI until he retired in 2012. He soon took a job as Senior Counterintelligence Officer for the Department of Energy Oak Ridge Counterintelligence Field Office. In this role, Lambert acted as the go-between for the FBI and UT-Battelle, the company that runs Oak Ridge National Laboratory. A staggering tangle of laws, regulations, and presidential decrees governed the public-private nature of Lambert's new job.

         On November 8, 2012, Lambert received an email from Patrick Kelley, an FBI attorney and ethics official. The email accused Lambert of violating 18 U.S.C. § 207(c), which bars some former federal employees from contacting current ones for a year after leaving their jobs. The email found its way into the hands of the FBI and UT-Battelle. On June 10, 2013, UT-Battelle fired Lambert and his security clearance was revoked. Lambert alleges that the email was retaliation for his role in shedding light on the troubled anthrax investigation.

         On April 2, 2015, Lambert filed a four-count complaint against the Attorney General, the FBI Director, the Department of Justice, the FBI, unnamed DOJ and FBI officials, and Patrick Kelley. A five-count amended complaint followed on June 2. This Court dismissed the first four counts in February 2016, leaving only Lambert's Bivens[1] action against Kelley.

         In November 2015, Kelley filed his motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). After fully briefing that motion, Lambert moved to amend his complaint.

         II

         A

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must state a facially plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). To determine whether the complaint states a facially plausible claim, the Court takes a two-step approach. Id. at 679. First, it separates the complaint's factual allegations from its legal conclusions. All factual allegations, and only the factual allegations, are taken as true. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).

         Second, the Court asks whether these factual allegations amount to a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 555. The allegations do not need to be highly detailed, but they must do more than simply recite the elements of the offense. Id. Specifically, the complaint must plead facts permitting a reasonable inference that the defendant is ...


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