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Clifford v. Colvin, No. 14-275, 2015 WL 4627312 (D. Me. Aug. 3, 2015) (Hornby, J.)


Clifford v. Colvin, No. 14-275, 2015 WL 4627312 (D. Me. Aug. 3, 2015) (Hornby, J.)

Re: Request for records concerning "'representative sanction action'" that defendant pursued administratively against plaintiff

Disposition: Adopting Magistrate Judge's Recommendation; denying defendant's renewed motion to dismiss

  • Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies:  The court "order[s] that the Recommended Decision of the Magistrate Judge [be] adopted."  The Magistrate Judge "recommend[s] that the Court deny Defendant's Renewed Motion to Dismiss" which was based on defendant's contention that "[p]laintiff has not exhausted his administrative challenges to Defendant's recent assertion of additional exemptions."  The Magistrate Judge found that "while Defendant can assert new exemptions in this Court, because the exemptions relate to the same documents that are the subject of this action, Defendant's assertion of the new exemptions should not require Plaintiff to return to the administrative process to address the new exemptions."  The Magistrate Judge found that "[d]efendant cites no legitimate reason for SSA's failure to assert the additional exemptions for more than a year after the SSA refused to produce the OIG investigative file based on the (b)(7)(A) exemption."  "The nature of Plaintiff's request did not change, and the record lacks any evidence to suggest that the bases for the new exemptions were not available to Defendant at the time of its initial response to Plaintiff's request."  "If Defendant had asserted the exemptions as part of the administrative process, the purposes of the exhaustion doctrine could have been satisfied."  "Under the circumstances, to require Plaintiff to seek an administrative review of the recently-asserted exemptions before seeking relief from this Court would in essence permit a governmental agency multiple opportunities to respond to the same FOIA request, and on each occasion require that a party who is denied access to information proceed through the administrative process even if the party's challenge to the agency's earlier denials regarding the same information is pending before a court."  "Such a result would be inconsistent with the purposes of FOIA, inconsistent with the principles of judicial economy, and could unreasonably increase the time and cost associated with routine FOIA requests."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
Updated January 12, 2022