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Case TitleFREEDOM WATCH, INC. v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2018cv01912
Date Filed2018-08-15
Date Closed2019-01-04
JudgeJudge James E. Boasberg
PlaintiffFREEDOM WATCH, INC.
Case DescriptionFreedom Watch submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning collaboration and/or communications between the agency and the Southern Poverty Law Center since 2008. After hearing nothing further from agency, Freedom Watch filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Adequacy - Search, Litigation - Vaughn index, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantFEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Opinion/Order [16]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge James Boasberg has ruled that Freedom Watch failed to exhaust its administrative remedies when it filed suit against the FBI after the agency told the organization that its request for records concerning any communications between the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center since 2008 did not sufficiently describe the records sought to allow the agency to conduct a search. The agency suggested that Freedom Watch provide more specific information. Freedom Watch filed suit instead. Boasberg noted that "the FBI's determination gave Freedom Watch two routes forward. It could have resubmitted its FOIA request with the additional detail required " thus perfecting its request " or it could have administratively appealed the FBI's assessment that its request was incomplete. Apparently unhappy with those options, Plaintiff instead brought its grievance to this Court, challenging the FBI's denial of an unperfected request that Freedom Watch did not administratively appeal. By doing so, it created two related grounds to dismiss the suit. No matter how it is sliced, Plaintiff's case cannot go forward." Freedom Watch argued it was not required to file an administrative appeal because to do so would be futile. Boasberg pointed out that "although a 'futility exception' to exhaustion does exist, it is reserved for narrow circumstances, such as when 'an agency has articulated a very clear position on the issue which it has demonstrated it would be unwilling to reconsider,' Freedom Watch points to no such circumstance here, nor can the Court glean any possible support for Plaintiff's position from its review of the Complaint and the FBI's communications with that entity. This Hail Mary lands incomplete."
Issues: Litigation - Jurisdiction - Failure to Exhaust
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2018-08-151COMPLAINT against All Defendants ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-5640294) filed by FREEDOM WATCH, INC.. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Summons, # 3 Civil Cover Sheet)(Klayman, Larry) (Entered: 08/15/2018)
2018-08-152CIVIL COVER SHEET Corrected by FREEDOM WATCH, INC. re 1 Complaint filed by FREEDOM WATCH, INC.. Related document: 1 Complaint filed by FREEDOM WATCH, INC..(Klayman, Larry) (Main Document 2 replaced on 8/15/2018) (zsth). (Entered: 08/15/2018)
2018-08-15Case Assigned to Judge James E. Boasberg. (zsth) (Entered: 08/15/2018)
2018-08-153ENTERED IN ERROR.....SUMMONS (1) Issued Electronically as to FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION. (Attachments: # 1 Notice and Consent)(zsth) Modified on 8/16/2018 (zsth). (Entered: 08/15/2018)
2018-08-164REQUEST FOR SUMMONS TO ISSUE filed by FREEDOM WATCH, INC.. (Attachments: # 1 Summons, # 2 Summons)(Klayman, Larry) (Entered: 08/16/2018)
2018-08-175SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachments: # 1 Notice and Consent)(znmw) (Entered: 08/17/2018)
2018-09-266MOTION for Extension of Time to File Defendant's Answer or Other Response to Plaintiff's Complaint by FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (Adebonojo, Kenneth) (Entered: 09/26/2018)
2018-09-27MINUTE ORDER: If Plaintiff opposes Defendant's 6 Motion for Extension, it shall file such opposition by September 28, 2018. So ORDERED by Judge James E. Boasberg on 9/27/2018. (lcjeb3) (Entered: 09/27/2018)
2018-09-27Set/Reset Deadlines: Opposition due by 9/28/2018. (znbn) (Entered: 09/27/2018)
2018-09-287RESPONSE re 6 MOTION for Extension of Time to File Defendant's Answer or Other Response to Plaintiff's Complaint filed by FREEDOM WATCH, INC.. (Klayman, Larry) (Entered: 09/28/2018)
2018-10-01MINUTE ORDER GRANTING 6 Motion for Extension of Time to File. The Court ORDERS that Defendant shall file its Answer/Response to Plaintiff's Complaint by October 30, 2018. So ORDERED by Judge James E. Boasberg on 10/1/2018. (lcjeb3) (Entered: 10/01/2018)
2018-10-01Set/Reset Deadlines: Answer due by 10/30/2018. (znbn) (Entered: 10/01/2018)
2018-10-308MOTION to Dismiss by FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Exhibit)(Adebonojo, Kenneth) (Entered: 10/30/2018)
2018-11-139Memorandum in opposition to re 8 MOTION to Dismiss filed by FREEDOM WATCH, INC.. (Klayman, Larry) (Entered: 11/13/2018)
2018-11-1311MOTION to Stay by FREEDOM WATCH, INC. (See Docket Entry 9 to view document). (znmw) (Entered: 11/18/2018)
2018-11-1510Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File a Reply to Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss by FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (Adebonojo, Kenneth) (Entered: 11/15/2018)
2018-11-15MINUTE ORDER GRANTING 10 Motion for Extension of Time to File Reply. The Court ORDERS that Defendant shall file its Reply to Plaintiff's Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss by December 14, 2018. So ORDERED by Judge James E. Boasberg on 11/15/2018. (lcjeb3) (Entered: 11/15/2018)
2018-11-15Set/Reset Deadlines: Replies due by 12/14/2018. (znbn) (Entered: 11/16/2018)
2018-12-1312Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File a Reply to Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Motion and Dismsis and Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Stay by FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (Adebonojo, Kenneth) (Entered: 12/13/2018)
2018-12-14MINUTE ORDER GRANTING 12 Motion for Extension of Time to File. The Court ORDERS that Defendant shall file its Reply on or before December 20, 2018. So ORDERED by Judge James E. Boasberg on 12/14/2018. (lcjeb3) (Entered: 12/14/2018)
2018-12-14Set/Reset Deadlines: Replies due by 12/20/2018. (znbn) (Entered: 12/14/2018)
2018-12-2013REPLY to opposition to motion re 8 MOTION to Dismiss filed by FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION. (Adebonojo, Kenneth) (Entered: 12/20/2018)
2018-12-2014Memorandum in opposition to re 11 MOTION to Stay filed by FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION. (Adebonojo, Kenneth) (Entered: 12/20/2018)
2019-01-0415ORDER GRANTING Defendant's 8 Motion to Dismiss and DENYING Plaintiff's 11 Motion to Stay. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 1/4/2019. (lcjeb2) (Entered: 01/04/2019)
2019-01-0416MEMORANDUM OPINION re 15 Order. Signed by Judge James E. Boasberg on 1/4/2019. (lcjeb2) (Entered: 01/04/2019)
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by FOIA Project Staff
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