Skip to content

Case Detail

[Subscribe to updates]
Case TitleSikes v. United States Department of the Navy
DistrictSouthern District of Georgia
CityDublin
Case Number3:2016cv00074
Date Filed2016-09-29
Date Closed2017-04-27
JudgeJudge Dudley H. Bowen
PlaintiffThomas W. Sikes
TERMINATED: 04/27/2017
Plaintiff
Thomas W. Sikes
Case DescriptionThomas Sikes, who is researching a book on the pressures of holding military office, had submitted a request to the Department of the Navy for records about Admiral J.M. Boorda, who committed suicide in 1996. Sikes filed suit against the Department of the Navy pertaining to his first request, which ended in 2014. As a result of the records he received during that litigation, he filed another eight requests relating to Boorda. Dissatisfied with the Navy's response and/or failure to respond, Sikes filed suit again.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit

DefendantUnited States Department of the Navy
DefendantUnited States Department of the Navy
TERMINATED: 04/27/2017
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Opinion/Order [61]
FOIA Project Annotation: On remand from the Eleventh Circuit, a federal court in Georgia has ruled that the Department of the Navy has provided author Thomas Sikes all the relief to which he was entitled by re-disclosing the same 11 pages with redactions of materials found in the vehicle used by Admiral J.M. Boorda, then Chief of Naval Operations, who committed suicide in 1996. Sikes had requested records about the investigation of Boorda's suicide by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. He received some documents, including the 11 redacted pages found in Boorda's vehicle. But in response to a subsequent request for all materials, the Navy refused to provide the 11 pages because he had already received them as part of an earlier request. Sikes filed suit and the district court upheld the agency's decision. Sikes then appealed to the Eleventh Circuit, which ruled that the Navy could not refuse to process the subsequent request based solely on its claim that it had already provided those records to Sikes and ordered the Navy to process the request. The Navy conducted an electronic-records search and came up with the same 11 pages, which it disclosed with the original redactions. This time, the Navy argued that Sikes could not challenge the agency's response to Sikes' earlier request that located the 11 pages because of res judicata. The trial court disagreed, noting that "the Navy's response to [Sikes' subsequent request that included the 11 pages] must be assessed independently. Indeed, the Eleventh Circuit went on to point out that the Navy did not just give Plaintiff the same eleven pages, rather, the Navy provided no records to Plaintiff in response to [the subsequent request]. Thus, Plaintiff's claim in the instant case did not challenge the adequacy of the Navy's production in the [original request] from Sikes I. Instead, Plaintiff's claim in this case challenged the Navy's non-response to [the subsequent request]. Nothing that occurred in Sikes I addressed this issue, and therefore, Plaintiff's claim here is not precluded." While the court found the Navy had conducted an adequate search and responded appropriately to Sikes' specific request that had been remanded by the Eleventh Circuit, Sikes argued that the agency's responses to other of his requests supported a finding of bad faith on the part of the agency. The court rejected Sikes' claim of bad faith, noting that "only the conduct of the Navy in withholding documents in this case informs the analysis of whether the Navy has acted in bad faith. Here, the Navy withheld responsive documents because it believed it had no obligation to reproduce documents to the same requester. In fact, this Court agreed with this position, until the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed this ruling in a published opinion. Once the Navy's position was rejected, it immediately responded to [the disputed request]. There is no evidence of bad faith here, and this Court's findings in Sikes I are irrelevant." Sikes claimed that the agency had failed to certify the authenticity of the records, pointing to the agency's regulations providing for such a service. Noting that the provision addressing certification of records had been removed from the Navy's FOIA regulations prior to processing of the request, the court observed that "there is no requirement for providing a certificate of authenticity or any other type of certification within these governing regulations."
Issues: Adequacy - Search
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2016-09-291COMPLAINT against United States Department of the Navy, filed by Thomas W. Sikes. (Exhibits listed on the last page are contained on a flash drive. The flash drive can be located in the exhibit drawer in the back of the Clerk's office.)(cmr) (Entered: 09/30/2016)
2016-09-292MOTION for Leave to File Excess Pages by Thomas W. Sikes. REFERRED to Judge Brian K. Epps.(cmr) (Entered: 09/30/2016)
2016-09-29RECEIPT FOR INSTRUCTIONS. Receipt of Monies: $ 400.00, Receipt number AUG020930. (cmr) (Entered: 09/30/2016)
2016-09-303RULE 26 INSTRUCTION ORDER. Signed by Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps on 9/29/16. (cmr) (Entered: 09/30/2016)
2016-10-074ORDER denying 2 Motion for Leave to File Excess Pages and instructing Plaintiff on how to proceed with the case. Signed by Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps on 10/07/2016. (maa) (Entered: 10/07/2016)
2016-10-275Certificate of Related Cases 3.1. (thb) (Entered: 10/27/2016)
2016-11-146MOTION Asking Court to Direct U.S. Marshal Service to Serve Three Addressees with Complaint and Summons by Thomas W. Sikes. REFERRED to Judge Brian K. Epps.(thb) (Entered: 11/14/2016)
2016-11-217ORDER denying 6 Motion Asking Court to Direct U.S. Marshal Service to Serve Three Addressees with Complaint and Summons. The Court directs the Clerk to return Plaintiff's materials to his listed address. Signed by Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps on 11/21/20016. (thb) (Entered: 11/21/2016)
2016-11-288Summons Issued as to United States Department of the Navy, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General. (thb) (Entered: 11/28/2016)
2016-12-149CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE by Thomas W. Sikes. (thb) (Entered: 12/14/2016)
2017-01-0510MOTION to Dismiss , or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, with Consolidated Brief in Support by United States Department of the Navy. Responses due by 1/19/2017. (Jones, Anica). Added MOTION for Summary Judgment on 1/6/2017 (jah). (Entered: 01/05/2017)
2017-01-06Set/Reset Deadlines as to 10 MOTION for Summary Judgment. Responses due by 1/26/2017. (thb) (Entered: 01/06/2017)
2017-01-0611NOTICE of Filing Deficiency re 10 MOTION to Dismiss , or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, with Consolidated Brief. (thb) (Entered: 01/06/2017)
2017-01-0612NOTICE issued re: 10 MOTION for Summary Judgment. Response due 01/26/2017. (thb) (Entered: 01/06/2017)
2017-01-2313MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 10 MOTION to Dismiss , or in the Alternative, MOTION for Summary Judgment, by Thomas W. Sikes. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)REFERRED to Judge Brian K. Epps.(thb) (Entered: 01/23/2017)
2017-01-23Motion No Longer Referred: 13 MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 10 MOTION to Dismiss , or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. (thb) (Entered: 01/23/2017)
2017-01-2314ORDER granting 13 Motion for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply re 10 MOTION to Dismiss , or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. Responses due by 2/9/2017. Signed by Judge Dudley H. Bowen on 01/23/2017. (thb) (Entered: 01/23/2017)
2017-02-0215MOTION for Permission to Amend/Correct 1 Complaint by Thomas W. Sikes. Responses due by 2/16/2017. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order, # 2 Amended Complaint)(thb) (Entered: 02/02/2017)
2017-02-0316RESPONSE to Motion re 15 MOTION to Amend/Correct 1 Complaint filed by United States Department of the Navy. (Jones, Anica) (Entered: 02/03/2017)
2017-02-1317RESPONSE to Motion re 10 MOTION to Dismiss, MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Thomas W. Sikes. (thb) (Entered: 02/13/2017)
2017-02-1418ORDER granting 15 Motion to Amend/Correct 1 Complaint. Signed by Judge Dudley H. Bowen on 02/14/2017. (thb) (Entered: 02/14/2017)
2017-02-1419AMENDED COMPLAINT against United States Department of the Navy, filed by Thomas W. Sikes.(thb) (Entered: 02/14/2017)
2017-02-1720NOTICE of Intent by United States Department of the Navy. (Jones, Anica) (Entered: 02/17/2017)
2017-02-2821******* MOTION to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint , MOTION for Summary Judgment by United States Department of the Navy. Responses due by 3/14/2017. Responses due by 3/21/2017. (Jones, Anica) (Entered: 02/28/2017)
2017-02-2822NOTICE issued re: 21 MOTION for Summary Judgment. Responses due by 3/21/2017. (Jones, Anica) (thb) (Entered: 02/28/2017)
2017-03-0923RESPONSE to Motion re 21 MOTION to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint MOTION for Summary Judgment, filed by Thomas W. Sikes. (thb) (Additional attachment(s) added on 3/31/2017: # 1 Main Document, # 2 Exhibit L) (thb). (Entered: 03/09/2017)
2017-03-1524MOTION to Seal Document 23 Response to Motion by United States Department of the Navy. Responses due by 3/29/2017. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Jones, Anica) (Entered: 03/15/2017)
2017-03-15MOTION REFERRED: 24 MOTION to Seal Document 23 Response to Motion. (thb) (Entered: 03/15/2017)
2017-03-3025ORDER directing the parties to conduct a conference within fourteen days of the date of this Order, and to file a joint 26(f) Report within seven days of the date of the conference. The Court directs the Clerk to attach the standard "Rule 26(f) Report" to this Order. Signed by Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps on 03/30/2017. (Attachments: # 1 Rule 26(f) Report) (thb) (Entered: 03/30/2017)
2017-03-3126ORDER granting in part and denying in part 24 Motion to Seal Document, and directing the Clerk to seal Exhibit L to Plaintiff's response from the public record. Signed by Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps on 03/31/2017. (thb) (Entered: 03/31/2017)
2017-04-0627REPORT of Rule 26(f) Planning Meeting. (Jones, Anica) (Entered: 04/06/2017)
2017-04-1128SCHEDULING ORDER: Amended Pleadings due by 4/20/2017. Discovery due by 8/7/2017. Motions due by 9/7/2017. Expert Witness Report (Plaintiff) due by 6/5/2017. Expert Witness Report (defendant) due by 7/5/2017. Signed by Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps on 04/11/2017. (thb) (Entered: 04/11/2017)
2017-04-2729ORDER granting 21 Motion to Dismiss. The Clerk is directed to terminate all pending motions, enter judgment in favor of Defendant, and close this case. Signed by Judge Dudley H. Bowen on 04/27/2017. (thb) (Entered: 04/27/2017)
2017-04-2730CLERK'S JUDGMENT entered in favor of Defendant, United States Department of the Navy. Signed by Deputy Clerk on 04/27/2017. (thb) (Entered: 04/27/2017)
2017-05-2631NOTICE of Appearance by John M. Hamrick on behalf of Thomas W. Sikes (Hamrick, John) (Entered: 05/26/2017)
2017-05-2632NOTICE OF APPEAL by Thomas W. Sikes. Filing fee $ 505, receipt number 113J-2167852. (Hamrick, John) (Entered: 05/26/2017)
2017-05-2633Transmission of Notice of Appeal and Docket Sheet to US Court of Appeals re: 29 Order, 30 Clerk's Judgment, 32 Notice of Appeal. Other Appeals: No. Judge Appealed: Judge Dudley H. Bowen. Fee Paid: Yes. (Attachments: # 1 Documents for Appeal)(thb) (Entered: 05/26/2017)
2017-06-0234USCA Case Number 17-12421-JJ for 32 Notice of Appeal filed by Thomas W. Sikes. (cmr) (Entered: 06/02/2017)
2017-06-1235F.R.A.P. Certificate of Readiness re 32 Notice of Appeal. The entire record on appeal is available electronically . (thb) (Entered: 06/12/2017)
Hide Docket Events
by FOIA Project Staff
Skip to toolbar