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Siperek v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

August 29, 2017

SCOTT RYAN SIPEREK, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          BENJAMIN H. SETTLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. Dkts. 12, 23 (redacted at Dkts. 15, 24). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motions and the remainder of the file and hereby grants summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff Scott Ryan Siperek.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On March 6, 2017, Plaintiff filed his complaint against the United States of America (“Government”). Dkt. 1. In his complaint, Plaintiff seeks reversal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (“FBI”) administrative decision denying his appeal related to an attempted firearm purchase labelled as transaction number 1003JH0DH. Id. He also seeks an order requiring the FBI to correct information in the National Instant Background Check System (“NICS”) by removing his previous juvenile offense. Id. Ultimately, Plaintiff seeks to remove the FBI's restriction on his right to possess a firearm. Id. On June 1, 2017, the Government filed an answer. Dkt. 9.

         On June 23, 2017, the Government moved for summary judgment. Dkt. 15. On July 6, 2017, the parties entered a stipulation to enable Plaintiff to file a cross motion for summary judgment and simplify the briefing schedule. Dkt. 20. On July 17, 2017, Plaintiff responded to the Government's motion and filed his cross-motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 24. On August 7, 2017, the Government filed a combined reply and response on the cross-motions for summary judgment. Dkt. 27. On August 11, 2017, Plaintiff filed his reply. Dkt. 28.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         A. Juvenile Proceedings and Attempted Firearm Purchase

         In 2001, Plaintiff was a juvenile respondent found guilty of an offense punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year. Dkt. 13 at 2 (redacted at Dkt. 16). Specifically, Plaintiff was found guilty of Child Molestation, a “Class A” felony sex offense. Id.

         On March 11, 2016, Plaintiff obtained an order from the Kitsap County Superior Court of Washington State vacating and sealing his juvenile offender record pursuant to RCW 13.50.260. Dkt. 1-2. The order states:

Petitioner moved for an order vacating and sealing juvenile offender records pursuant to RCW Title 13.50.260;
* * * It is now, therefore; ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED as follows: With the exception of identifying information under RCW 13.50.050(13) [all applicable agencies] shall each, individually and together, seal any and all notes, files, social files, computer records and/or references to any juvenile criminal/offender activity or investigation referencing the petitioner in the above captioned matters, including but not limited to, juvenile court records, social file records, prosecuting attorney records, law enforcement records, notes, and computer records.
This proceeding and those cases shall be treated as having never occurred and the orders finding petitioner guilty and sentencing or diverting petitioner for cases referenced herein shall hereby be sealed pursuant to RCW Title 13.50.260 and/or RCW 13.40.127 subject to the limitations of RCW 13.50.050(13). The petitioner and all individuals ordered to seal their records in this matter shall hereinafter treat this case as if it never occurred.
The [applicable agencies] shall reply to any such inquiry concerning the records of petitioner or these proceedings, that they are confidential and no information shall be given regarding their existence or non-existence.

Id.

         On April 29, 2016, Plaintiff obtained another order from the Superior Court purporting to restore his right to possess firearms pursuant to RCW 9.41.040(4). Dkt. 1-3. The order states:

THE COURT HEREBY FINDS on March 11, 2016 the Kitsap County Superior Court-Juvenile Court issued an Order that vacated, sealed, and ordered proceedings in Cause No. O1-8-00764-9 to be treated as if they never occurred pursuant to RCW 13.50.260; and the Petitioner is qualified, pursuant to RCW 9.41.040(4), to have the right to possess firearms fully restored; now therefore:
THE COURT HEREBY ORDERS that Petitioner Scott Siperek's civil rights and right to possess firearms are FULLY RESTORED pursuant to RCW 9.41.040(4) and/or 13.50.260(6). The clerk of the court shall, forthwith, provide a certified copy of this Order to the Washington State Patrol-Identification Section. The Washington State Patrol shall transmit a copy of this order to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Id.

         On December 3, 2016, Plaintiff attempted to purchase a firearm from a Federal Firearms Licensee (“FFL”). Dkt. 13 at 1 (redacted at Dkt. 16). The FFL requested a background check on Plaintiff, which was processed through NICS as transaction number 1003JH0DH. Id. On December 7, 2016, NICS reviewed Plaintiff's background information and decided that, regardless of the April 29, 2016 court order restoring Plaintiff's rights to possess a firearm, the order could not be applied to Plaintiff's juvenile class A felony conviction for Child Molestation. Id. at 2. Accordingly, on December 8, 2017, NICS directed the FFL to deny Plaintiff's firearm purchase, and the FFL did not complete the transaction. Id. at 1.

         On December 8, 2016, Plaintiff submitted an NICS appeal request form. Dkt. 1 at 4. On December 14, 2016, the FBI mailed Plaintiff a letter explaining that the transaction was denied because he was prohibited from possessing a firearm under 18 U.S.C. §§ 921(a)(2) and 922(g)(1). Dkt. 1-4. The FBI further informed Plaintiff that he could challenge the denial by submitting certified court documents to NICS. Dkt. 1-4. On January 5, 2017, Plaintiff allegedly mailed his documentation to NICS and initiated an administrative appeal. Dkt. 1 at 4.

         On January 13, 2017, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) allegedly contacted Plaintiff by phone to inform him that he was prohibited from possessing a firearm. Dkt. 1 at 4. In subsequent email communications, ATF counsel explained that:

[A]s long as [Plaintiff]'s A-felony conviction appears on his NCIC report, they will consider him prohibited. The subsequent restoration of rights doesn't alleviate the prohibition because A-felony convictions are not subject to 9.41.040 restoration provisions.

Dkt. 23-5 at 3 (redacted at Dkt. 24-5).

         Other than his contact with the ATF, Plaintiff has not yet received a response regarding his appeal. Dkt. 1 at 5. Accordingly, on March 6, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 925A. Dkt. 1.

         B. Legal Framework for Restricting Plaintiff's Possession of Firearms

         Under 18 U.S.C § 925A, a person denied a firearm pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 922 “may bring an action . . . against the United States . . . for an order directing that the erroneous information be corrected or that the transfer be approved, as the case may be.” 18 U.S.C § 925A. Additionally “[i]n any action under this section, the court, in its ...


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