$1.9M suit filed against US Navy
By Gina Tabonares
Variety News Staff
A SENIOR ranking officer of the U.S. Navy filed a $1.9 million lawsuit against the federal government for an alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy.
David G. Matthews, a GS14 COMNAVMAR member, filed the claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act in the District Court of Guam after the U.S. Navy denied the claim he filed on May 18, 2007 against the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Navy, and COMNAVMAR Guam.
According to Matthews, the defendants’ reckless and unlawful conduct irreparably damaged his good name and reputation, and compelled him to seek early retirement from federal employment that resulted in significant personal, professional and financial implications.
His case stemmed from an incident on June 14, 2005 when his wife Debora was apprehended by COMNAVMAR security for alleged child abuse involving their daughter.
On the same day, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service concluded Debora Matthews did not abuse her daughter and the COMNAVMAR executive officer and attorneys stated there was no criminal investigation by the Navy or referral to the Guam Police Department.
Two days later, the Matthews couple received telephone calls from Vince Pereda, a Family Advocacy Program case manager for the COMNAVMAR Fleet and Family Support Center Guam. They briefly discussed the incident involving Debora Matthews and her daughter.
A review of the FFSC case records reveals Pereda “maintained” case notes as of June 16, 2005. Pereda discussed the case with a Guam Child Protective Services worker after initiating records and without the approval of the plaintiff and his wife.
The case manager and a Guam Child Protective Services worker told the couple that they didn’t need an attorney and that there was no criminal case, but they were never apprised of the potential consequences of their discussions which is the purpose of the PA and FAP program description document.
On June 17, 2005, Pereda asked Debora Matthews to sign two documents which he stated were required to allow FFSC/CPS to interview their daughter.
David Matthews, however, learned that the two documents were the Privacy Act statement and the FFSC Program Description.
He said neither document was explained to them nor Pereda asked his wife to read the documents prior to signing, describing the act as a trick to have Debora Matthews to sign the forms.
The plaintiff asked a criminal investigation concerning the falsified document but they felt that the defendant attempted to conceal the crime.
In September 2005, the Navy placed the plaintiff and his wife in a military tribunal for alleged child abuse. As a result, the Matthews were placed in a federal registry as child abusers.
The information that was illegally and unlawfully obtained from the plaintiff and his wife was used against them in the tribunal.
The Matthews were concerned with the personal and professional ramification of a military tribunal and, on Sept. 1, 2005, they asked the U.S. Navy if they were eligible for Navy legal service support in regard to the military tribunal but a Department of Defense employee said it was a local call denying their eligibility.
The plaintiff said they were put in the child abuser registry and labeled without due process.
Matthew said that placing his name under central registry will have negative impact on his current and future employment and security clearance.
The couple wrote a letter to COMNAVMAR and the DOD asking to remove their names from the federal registry as child abusers and asked additional information, but they were disregarded and provided no response.
They asked the court for compensatory damages of $1.951.894, the removal of their names from the federal registry as child abusers, to provide them all information requested via the Freedom of Information Act, and provide answers to all questions they asked in his original claim.