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Beagles v. Watkins, No. 16-506, 2017 WL 3927456 (D.N.M Sept. 6, 2017) (Gonzales, J.)


Beagles v. Watkins, No. 16-506, 2017 WL 3927456 (D.N.M Sept. 6, 2017) (Gonzales, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning plaintiff and former employer, New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions

Disposition:  Granting in part and denying in part defendants' motion to dismiss

  • Litigation Considerations:  "[T]he parties agree that [the individual defendant] is an improper party, so the Motion to Dismiss is granted as to [the individual defendant]."
  • Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies:  The court holds that "[b]ecause exhaustion is a prudential consideration and the purposes of exhaustion have been served (i.e. the agency has had a full opportunity to exercise its discretion and expertise and to make a factual record to support its discretion, even if the DOL has chosen not to do so), the Court should now have the opportunity to decide the FOIA claims on the merits."  The court explains that, "[h]ere, Plaintiff availed himself of the right to appeal the DOL's decision to withhold documents."  "More than two years passed without any response from the DOL addressing whether it would release any additional information or deny the appeal outright."  Moreover, the court finds that while "[t]he DOL clearly responded to Plaintiff's appeal within the statutory time period of 20 days (excluding weekends and holidays)[,]" "there is nothing in the agency's response to indicate that the DOL made a determination whether to produce additional documents or deny Plaintiff's appeal."  "The DOL letter simply indicates that the appeal was received, that appeals were being handled on a 'first-in first-out basis,' and that there were a 'substantial' number of appeals awaiting review and decision."  Finally, "the Court finds no evidence of exceptional circumstances requiring additional time."  "Likewise, given the substantial amount of time that has elapsed since Plaintiff filed his appeal, the Court sees no indication that the DOL has exercised anything remotely resembling due diligence in responding to this request."  "Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff has done everything he could to comply with FOIA's requirements, and in so doing, has exhausted his administrative remedies."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
Litigation Considerations, Supplemental to Main Categories
Updated December 15, 2021