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District Court Decisions

Brown v. FBI, No. 10-1292, 2012 WL 2786292 (D.D.C. Jul 10, 2012) (Lamberth, J.). Holding: Denying defendant's motion to dismiss; but granting defendant's motion for summary judgment on the basis that it conducted an adequate search, and properly withheld certain information pursuant to Exemptions 3, 7(C), 7(D) and 7(E); and denying plaintiff's motion for sanctions as well as his motion to supplement his motion for sanctions. Noting that "[t]he imposition of Rule 11 sanctions is generally not something the court takes lightly," the court denies plaintiff's motion for sanctions, finding "no reason for such an extreme punishment without substantial evidence that defendant frustrated judicial proceedings." Here, the court finds plaintiff's arguments "incredulous enough to merit only a limited discussion," and determines that, in addition to being untimely, plaintiff's motion "simply provided no probative evidence to buttress his claims."

Raher v. BOP, No. 09-CV-00526, 2011 WL 4832574 (D. Or. Oct. 12, 2011) (Stewart, Mag.). Holding: Denying plaintiff's motions for sanctions; and denying plaintiff's request for discovery. The court denies plaintiff's motion for sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 brought against BOP and its counsel based on the agency's decision to withhold records under former "High" 2 and Exemption 4. With respect to sixteen pages out of 8,000 pages of information that were initially withheld under Exemption 2 and later produced pursuant to the court's order, the court concludes that "any failure by BOP to [segregate and] disclose these few pages [initially] is nothing more than inadvertent and not sanctionable under Rule 11." Similarly, the court "declines to impose a Rule 11 sanction against BOP or its counsel" for its decision to withhold pricing information under Exemption 4 that was later found to exist in the public domain. The court determines that "there is no basis to conclude that BOP had any reason to know" that a state agency had made this information publicly available until it was brought to its attention by other parties to this action. Additionally, the court rejects Rule 11 sanctions on the basis that "BOP took affirmative steps to prevent discovery that [plaintiff] believes would have helped him refute misleading allegations." Rather, the court holds that "[g]iven [the] high bar to obtaining discovery in FOIA cases, BOP reasonably objected to [plaintiff's] motion to compel discovery and prevailed" and, accordingly, plaintiff failed to show "any unnecessary delay to justify Rule 11 sanctions caused by BOP opposing his discovery request." Moreover, contrary to plaintiff's arguments, the court finds that it "has no basis to find that BOP and its counsel acted unreasonably by not reviewing every document at issue." Rather, the court concludes that "performing a representative sampling is an inherently reasonable method of reviewing documents not only by the court, but also by BOP, its employees and counsel." The court also denies plaintiff's Rule 56(h) motion for sanctions against BOP and the defendant-intervenor on the basis that their declarations "were submitted in bad faith." The court declines to "impute knowledge" to defendants of the public availability of the withheld pricing information and finds no evidence that any of the parties willfully misled the court. The court also denies plaintiff's motion for sanctions on the basis of bad faith brought against BOP, the defendant-intervenor, and their counsel under 28 U.S.C. §1927. Based on the foregoing, the court also declines to sanction the defendants based on its "inherent authority," noting that "the requisite bad faith to impose sanction is absent."

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