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Case TitleGahagan v. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
DistrictEastern District of Louisiana
CityNew Orleans
Case Number2:2016cv15438
Date Filed2016-10-11
Date Closed2017-03-09
JudgeJudge Martin L.C. Feldman
PlaintiffMichael W. Gahagan
Case DescriptionImmigration attorney Michael Gahagan submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for the Form I-485 Receipt Notice for his client. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after the agency failed to respond within the statutory time limits, Gahagan filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation - Vaughn index, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantUnited States Citizenship and Immigration Services
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Complaint attachment 4
Complaint attachment 5
Opinion/Order [31]
Opinion/Order [42]
FOIA Project Annotation: A federal court in Louisiana has ruled that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has not yet shown that it conducted an adequate search for a Form I-485 Receipt Notice for a client of immigration attorney Michael Gahagan because its affidavit claiming that the agency's database does not contain such receipt notices conflicts with the affidavit filed in a previous case brought by Gahagan. Gahagan's client, who was subject to deportation proceedings, challenged the decision on the basis that he was legally married to a U.S. citizen. However, to prove his status, he needed to provide the court with the I-485 notice. USCIS concluded that the notice would most likely be contained in his alien file, but after locating that file the form was not found. The agency agreed to recreate the form with redactions. In light of the conflicting affidavits, the court noted that "this sworn statement, which directly bears on whether or not a search of [the database] could reveal an archived Receipt Notice, conflicts with [the current affidavit] that it could not, [and] creates a factual controversy regarding whether or not USCIS conducted an adequate search of [its database]." The court ordered the agency to conduct a further search to determine if the archived form existed. In the meantime, the court also ordered the agency to disclose the recreated form to Gahagan.
Issues: Adequacy - Search
Opinion/Order [63]
FOIA Project Annotation: A federal court in Louisiana has declined to reconsider its ruling finding U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had not conducted an adequate search for a form requested by immigration attorney Michael Gahagan. The court observed that "it was USCIS's own sloppy approach and failure to describe its alleged search, and the confusion created by its own personnel, that undermined its ability to carry its burden to show that it had conducted an adequate search." The agency argued that "the apparent discrepancy has been explained and, now, it should be understood that the agency never kept the record and, thus, could only recreate it, as it has done." Rejecting the claim, the court pointed out that "too little, too late. At the time the Court issued its December 14, 2016 Order and Reasons, USCIS had failed to carry its burden to show that it had conducted an adequate search. Clearly, it had not done so; the Court ordered that a search must be conducted and an explanation clarifying the inconsistency in the record must be filed. The Court will not reconsider its prior ruling based on any clarity finally achieved only after a Court-ordered search and submission that was prompted by the agency's own inadequate presentation."
Issues: Adequacy - Search
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2016-10-111COMPLAINT against United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 053L-5747512) filed by Michael W. Gahagan. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons, # 3 Summons, # 4 Summons, # 5 Summons)Attorney Michael Wayne Gahagan added to party Michael W. Gahagan(pty:pla).(Gahagan, Michael) (Entered: 10/11/2016)
2016-10-122Initial Case Assignment to Judge Martin L.C. Feldman and Magistrate Judge Janis van Meerveld. (djg) (Entered: 10/12/2016)
2016-10-133Summons Issued as to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. (Attachments: # 1 Summons, # 2 Summons, # 3 Summons)(clc) (Entered: 10/13/2016)
2016-11-174MOTION to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction Failure to Exhaust Administrative Appeal Remedy , MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Motion(s) will be submitted on 12/7/2016. (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Exhibit 1, # 3 Notice of Submission)Attorney Jason M. Bigelow added to party United States Citizenship and Immigration Services(pty:dft).(Bigelow, Jason) (Entered: 11/17/2016)
2016-11-185SUMMONS Returned Executed; United States Citizenship and Immigration Services served on 10/18/2016, answer due 12/19/2016. (Gahagan, Michael) (Entered: 11/18/2016)
2016-11-186First MOTION for Summary Judgment by Michael W. Gahagan. Motion(s) will be submitted on 12/7/2016. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Contested/Uncontested Facts, # 2 Memorandum in Support, # 3 Proposed Order, # 4 Exhibit, # 5 Exhibit, # 6 Notice of Submission)(Gahagan, Michael) (Entered: 11/18/2016)
2016-11-227RESPONSE/MEMORANDUM in Opposition filed by Michael W. Gahagan re 4 MOTION to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction Failure to Exhaust Administrative Appeal Remedy MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim . (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Contested/Uncontested Facts, # 2 Memorandum in Support, # 3 Proposed Order, # 4 Exhibit, # 5 Exhibit, # 6 Exhibit)(Gahagan, Michael) (Entered: 11/22/2016)
2016-11-238**DEFICIENT** EXPARTE/CONSENT MOTION to Continue submission of Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Bigelow, Jason) Modified on 11/23/2016 (clc). (Entered: 11/23/2016)
2016-11-259MOTION to Continue Submission of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Motion(s) will be submitted on 12/14/2016. (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Notice of Submission)(Bigelow, Jason) (Entered: 11/25/2016)
2016-11-2510EXPARTE/CONSENT MOTION to Expedite Defendant's Motion to Continue (R. Doc. 9) by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Bigelow, Jason) (Entered: 11/25/2016)
2016-11-2811EXPARTE/CONSENT MOTION to Withdraw Document re 4 MOTION to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction Failure to Exhaust Administrative Appeal Remedy MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim , 9 MOTION to Continue Submission of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment , 10 MOTION to Expedite Defendant's Motion to Continue (R. Doc. 9) by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Bigelow, Jason) Modified on 11/28/2016 to edit text. (clc). (Entered: 11/28/2016)
2016-11-2812EXPARTE/CONSENT MOTION for Entry of Default as to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services by Michael W. Gahagan. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Contested/Uncontested Facts & Declaration, # 2 Memorandum in Support, # 3 Proposed Order)(Gahagan, Michael) Modified on 11/29/2016 to edit text. (clc). (Entered: 11/28/2016)
2016-11-2913ORDER granting 11 MOTION to Withdraw Document. HEREBY ORDERED that the 4 Defendants Motion to Dismiss ), 9 Motion to Continue and 10 Motion to Expedite are hereby withdrawn. These three motions are removed from the Court's calendar and will not be considered by the Court. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 11/29/16.(clc) (Entered: 11/29/2016)
2016-11-2914ANSWER to 1 Complaint, by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.(Bigelow, Jason) (Entered: 11/29/2016)
2016-11-2915ORDER denying 12 Motion for Entry of Default. Signed by Clerk of Court on 11/29/2016. (caa) (Entered: 11/29/2016)
2016-11-2916**DEFICIENT** RESPONSE/MEMORANDUM in Opposition filed by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services re 6 First MOTION for Summary Judgment . (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1)(Bigelow, Jason) Modified on 11/30/2016 (clc). (Entered: 11/29/2016)
2016-11-3017NOTICE: Scheduling Conference set for 1/5/2017 02:00 PM before case manager by telephone. By Clerk.(caa) (Entered: 11/30/2016)
2016-11-3018RESPONSE/MEMORANDUM in Opposition filed by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services re 6 First MOTION for Summary Judgment . (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1, # 2 Statement of Contested/Uncontested Facts)(Bigelow, Jason) (Additional attachment(s) added on 12/5/2016 per order of the court: # 3 Exhibit 2) (Entered: 11/30/2016)
2016-12-0219EXPARTE/CONSENT MOTION for Leave to File Supplement to 18 Defendant's Memorandum in Opposition by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order, # 2 Proposed Pleading)(Bigelow, Jason) Modified on 12/5/2016 to edit text. (clc). (Entered: 12/02/2016)
2016-12-0420EXPARTE/CONSENT MOTION for Leave to File Reply to Plaintiff's 6 Motion for Summary Judgment by Michael W. Gahagan. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order, # 2 Proposed Pleading)(Gahagan, Michael) Modified on 12/5/2016 to edit text. (clc). (Entered: 12/04/2016)
2016-12-0521ORDER granting 20 Motion for Leave to File Reply. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 12/5/16. (clc) (Entered: 12/05/2016)
2016-12-0522REPLY to Response to Motion filed by Michael W. Gahagan re 6 First MOTION for Summary Judgment . (clc) (Entered: 12/05/2016)
2016-12-0523ORDER granting 19 Motion for Leave to to Supplement Defendant's memorandum in opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment. The Declaration of Monica Martinez is hereby attached to 18 Defendant's memorandum in opposition as Exhibit 2. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 12/5/16. (clc) (Entered: 12/05/2016)
2016-12-0824ORDERED that the Hearing on 6 First MOTION for Summary Judgment is continued to December 14, 2016, on the papers. ORDERED that not later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, December 9, 2016, USCIS must turn over to the plaintiff and file into the record under seal the unredacted Receipt Notice. FURTHER ORDERED that not later than 12:00 p.m. on Monday, December 12, 2016, both sides shall submit papers, with citation to relevant authority, addressing whether, in the absence of the original record, provision of a functionally equivalent record to a FOIA plaintiff satisfies the agency's FOIA obligation. In addition, the plaintiff must clarify precisely what is being unlawfully withheld and how this Court could be expected to perform a segregability analysis when there is no suggestion by either party that the requested record contains exempted material, when the functional equivalent record has been provided to the plaintiff in its entirety. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 12/7/16.(clc) Modified on 12/8/2016 to edit text. (clc). (Entered: 12/08/2016)
2016-12-0825EXPARTE/CONSENT MOTION for Leave to File by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Bigelow, Jason) (Entered: 12/08/2016)
2016-12-0926ORDER granting 25 Motion for Leave to File Document Under Seal. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 12/9/2016. (mmm) (Entered: 12/09/2016)
2016-12-1227Supplemental Memorandum in Support filed by Michael W. Gahagan, in Support of 6 First MOTION for Summary Judgment . (Gahagan, Michael) Modified on 12/13/2016 (cg). (Entered: 12/12/2016)
2016-12-1228RESPONSE/MEMORANDUM in Opposition filed by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services re 6 First MOTION for Summary Judgment . (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1, # 2 Exhibit 2)(Bigelow, Jason) (Entered: 12/12/2016)
2016-12-1329EXPARTE/CONSENT MOTION for Leave to File Supplemental Memorandum by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order, # 2 Proposed Pleading Supplemental Memorandum, # 3 Proposed Pleading Exhibit 1, # 4 Proposed Pleading Exhibit 2, # 5 Proposed Pleading Exhibit 3, # 6 Proposed Pleading Exhibit 4)(Bigelow, Jason) (Entered: 12/13/2016)
2016-12-1430Sealed Document. (clc) (Entered: 12/14/2016)
2016-12-1431ORDER AND REASONS: ORDERED that the plaintiff' s 6 Motion for Summary Judgment in GRANTED in part in so far as the Court finds that the USCIS's search for the requested record was inadequate. FURTHER ORDERED that another search of the CLAIMS system shall be conducted and, within five days, counsel for USCIS shall submit supplemental papers and a supplemental declaration as further explained in document. FURTHER ORDERED that not later than 5:00 p.m. twenty-four hours from receipt of this Order and Reasons, counsel for USCIS shall produce to the plaintiff the unredacted recreated Receipt Notice and shall certify compliance in the record. FURTHER ORDERED that the remaining issue raised by the plaintiff's motion for summary is under submission pending USCIS's forthcoming submission. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 12/14/16. (clc) (Entered: 12/14/2016)
2016-12-1432ORDER granting 29 Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Memorandum. Based on this supplemental submission, counsel for USCIS has satisfied his obligation to produce the recreated, redacted Receipt Notice as well as his obligation to certify compliance in the record. See Order and Reasons dated 12/14/16. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 12/14/16. (clc) (Entered: 12/14/2016)
2016-12-1433Supplemental Memorandum by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to 27 Supplemental Memorandum (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1, # 2 Exhibit 2, # 3 Exhibit 3, # 4 Exhibit 4)(clc) (Entered: 12/14/2016)
2016-12-1434NOTICE to the Court of receipt of Unredacted Form I-485 by Michael W. Gahagan . (Gahagan, Michael) Modified text on 12/15/2016 (mmv). (Entered: 12/14/2016)
2016-12-1935RESPONSE/MEMORANDUM in Opposition filed by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services re 6 First MOTION for Summary Judgment . (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1)(Bigelow, Jason) (Entered: 12/19/2016)
2016-12-2036Correction of Docket Entry by Clerk re Notice of Deficient Filing, 35 Response/Memorandum in Opposition to Motion.**Please Disregard earlier Notice of Deficient Filing sent by Clerk. Document no longer deemed Deficient.** (clc) (Entered: 12/20/2016)
2016-12-2037EXPARTE/CONSENT MOTION for Leave to File Response to Defendant's Supplemental Memorandum by Michael W. Gahagan. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order, # 2 Proposed Pleading)(Gahagan, Michael) Modified on 12/21/2016 to edit text. (clc). (Entered: 12/20/2016)
2016-12-2038EXPARTE/CONSENT MOTION to Seal Document 37 MOTION for Leave to File Response to Defendant's Supplemental Memorandum by Michael W. Gahagan. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Gahagan, Michael) (Entered: 12/20/2016)
2016-12-2139ORDER granting 38 Motion to Seal Document Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 12/21/16. (clc) (Entered: 12/21/2016)
2016-12-2140ORDER granting 37 Motion for Leave to File Response. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 12/21/16. (clc) (Entered: 12/21/2016)
2016-12-2141RESPONSE to Motion filed by Michael W. Gahagan re 6 First MOTION for Summary Judgment . (clc) (Additional attachment(s) added on 12/21/2016: # 1 Exhibit) (clc). (Entered: 12/21/2016)
2016-12-2242ORDER AND REASONS denying as moot 6 Motion for Summary Judgment as per herein. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 12/22/2016. (cg) Modified on 1/5/2017 to edit text. (clc). (Entered: 12/22/2016)
2017-01-0443MOTION for Attorney Fees by Michael W. Gahagan. Motion(s) will be submitted on 1/25/2017. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Contested/Uncontested Facts, # 2 Memorandum in Support, # 3 Proposed Order, # 4 Notice of Submission, # 5 Exhibit, # 6 Exhibit, # 7 Exhibit, # 8 Exhibit, # 9 Exhibit, # 10 Exhibit, # 11 Exhibit, # 12 Exhibit, # 13 Exhibit, # 14 Exhibit)(Gahagan, Michael) (Entered: 01/04/2017)
2017-01-0944MOTION for Summary Judgment by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Motion(s) will be submitted on 1/25/2017. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Contested/Uncontested Facts, # 2 Memorandum in Support, # 3 Notice of Submission)(Bigelow, Jason) (Entered: 01/09/2017)
2017-01-1145MOTION for Reconsideration re 31 Order on Motion for Summary Judgment by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Motion(s) will be submitted on 2/8/2017. (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Notice of Submission)(Bigelow, Jason) Modified on 1/12/2017 to edit text. (clc). (Entered: 01/11/2017)
2017-01-1146EXPARTE/CONSENT MOTION to Expedite USCIS's motion for reconsideration, R. Doc. 45 by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Bigelow, Jason) (Entered: 01/11/2017)
2017-01-1247ORDER DENYING 46 MOTION to Expedite 45 USCIS's motion for reconsideration. FURTHER ORDERED that the hearing on the defendant'smotion for summary judgment and the plaintiff's motion forattorney's fees is continued to February 8, 2017 on the papers. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 1/12/17.(clc) (Entered: 01/12/2017)
2017-01-2848RESPONSE/MEMORANDUM in Opposition filed by Michael W. Gahagan re 45 MOTION for Reconsideration re 31 Order on Motion for Summary Judgment. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Contested/Uncontested Facts, # 2 Memorandum in Support, # 3 Proposed Order)(Gahagan, Michael) Modified text on 1/30/2017 (ajn). (Entered: 01/28/2017)
2017-01-2849RESPONSE/MEMORANDUM in Opposition filed by Michael W. Gahagan re 44 MOTION for Summary Judgment . (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Contested/Uncontested Facts, # 2 Memorandum in Support, # 3 Proposed Order)(Gahagan, Michael) (Entered: 01/28/2017)
2017-01-3150RESPONSE/MEMORANDUM in Opposition filed by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services re 43 MOTION for Attorney Fees . (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1, # 2 Exhibit 2, # 3 Exhibit 3, # 4 Exhibit 4, # 5 Exhibit 5, # 6 Statement of Contested/Uncontested Facts)(Bigelow, Jason) (Entered: 01/31/2017)
2017-02-0251NOTICE: Scheduling Conference set for 3/2/2017 02:00 PM before case manager by telephone. By Clerk.(caa) (Entered: 02/02/2017)
2017-02-0352EXPARTE/CONSENT MOTION for Leave to File Memorandum in Response to Plaintiff's Opposition to USCIS's Motion for Summary Judgment by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order, # 2 Proposed Pleading Memorandum in Response to Plaintiff's Opposition to USCIS's Motion for Summary Judgment)(Bigelow, Jason) (Entered: 02/03/2017)
2017-02-0553EXPARTE/CONSENT First MOTION for Leave to File Reply to Motion for Attorney's Fees and Costs by Michael W. Gahagan. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order, # 2 Proposed Pleading, # 3 Exhibit, # 4 Exhibit, # 5 Exhibit, # 6 Exhibit, # 7 Exhibit)(Gahagan, Michael) (Entered: 02/05/2017)
2017-02-0654ORDER granting 52 Motion for Leave to File Reply. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 2/6/17. (clc) (Entered: 02/06/2017)
2017-02-0655REPLY to Response to Motion filed by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services re 44 MOTION for Summary Judgment . (clc) (Entered: 02/06/2017)
2017-02-0656ORDER granting 53 Motion for Leave to File Reply. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 2/6/17. (clc) (Entered: 02/06/2017)
2017-02-0657REPLY to Response to Motion filed by Michael W. Gahagan re 43 MOTION for Attorney Fees . (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 18, # 2 Exhibit 19, # 3 Exhibit 20, # 4 Exhibit 21, # 5 Exhibit 22)(clc) (Entered: 02/06/2017)
2017-02-0658EXPARTE/CONSENT MOTION for Leave to File Memorandum in Response to Plaintiff's Opposition to USCIS's Motion for Reconsideration by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order, # 2 Proposed Pleading Memorandum in Response to Plaintiff's Opposition to USCIS's Motion for Reconsideration)(Bigelow, Jason) (Entered: 02/06/2017)
2017-02-0759ORDER GRANTING 58 Motion for Leave to File Memorandum in Response. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 2/7/2017. (mmv) (Entered: 02/07/2017)
2017-02-0760REPLY to Response to Motion filed by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services re 45 MOTION for Reconsideration re 31 Order on Motion for Summary Judgment . (mmv) (Entered: 02/07/2017)
2017-02-0861ORDER: IT IS ORDERED: that the hearing on the following motions is continued to February 22, 2017, on the papers: (1) United States Citizenship and Immigration Services 44 motion for summary judgment; (2) USCIS's 45 motion for reconsideration of this Court's December 14, 2016 Order and Reasons; and (3) the plaintiff's 43 motion for attorney's fees. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 2/8/2017.(mmv) (Entered: 02/08/2017)
2017-03-0362SCHEDULING ORDER: Final Pretrial Conference set for 6/29/2017 01:30 PM & Bench Trial set for 7/17/2017 09:00 AM before Judge Martin L.C. Feldman. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman. (Attachments: # 1 Pretrial Notice Form)(caa) (Entered: 03/03/2017)
2017-03-0863ORDER AND REASONS - IT IS ORDERED: that 45 USCIS's motion for reconsideration is DENIED and its 44 motion for summary judgment is DENIED as moot. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED: that the scheduling order issued in this case is hereby rescinded and a judgment for plaintiff will be entered. Finally, IT IS FURTHER ORDERED: that the plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees is referred to the magistrate judge for determination. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 3/8/2017. (cg) (Entered: 03/08/2017)
2017-03-0964JUDGMENT entered in favor of Michael W. Gahagan against United States Citizenship and Immigration Services with costs. FURTHER ORDERED that the 43 Motion for Attorney's Fees filed by the plaintiff is hereby REFERRED to the Magistrate Judge. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 3/9/2017.(clc) (Entered: 03/09/2017)
2017-03-0965EXPARTE/CONSENT Motion for Clarification of Order by Michael W. Gahagan. (Gahagan, Michael) Modified on 3/10/2017 (clc). (Additional attachment(s) added on 3/10/2017: # 1 Proposed Order) (clc). (Entered: 03/09/2017)
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by FOIA Project Staff