Cole v. Rochford, No. 15-1991, 2018 WL 278656 (D.D.C. Jan. 3, 2018) (Sullivan, J.)

Date: 
Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Cole v. Rochford, No. 15-1991, 2018 WL 278656 (D.D.C. Jan. 3, 2018) (Sullivan, J.)

Re: Request for records concerning collapse of World Trade Center buildings on September 11, 2001

Disposition: Denying plaintiff's motion for discovery

  • Litigation Considerations, Discovery:  The court finds that "[plaintiff] has raised significant questions as to whether FEMA has processed documents in good faith in response to [plaintiff's] FOIA request."  "Indeed, the Court is troubled by multiple aspects of the government's actions at issue here."  "[Plaintiff] submitted his FOIA request in May 2011 but did not receive any documents until after he filed this lawsuit almost five years later in April 2016."  "This is all the more concerning given that [defendant] had determined that it possessed 3,789 pages of responsive records by the end of June 2012."  "The Court is also troubled by the government's inconsistent, even contradictory, responses to [plaintiff's] inquiries regarding his FOIA request."  "Despite these concerns, the Court concludes that discovery is premature at this juncture."  The court explains that "the government has not yet moved for summary judgment – and therefore has not submitted any declarations setting forth details related to its search for documents responsive to [plaintiff's] request – the Court does not have sufficient information to determine whether a genuine factual dispute exists or whether [plaintiff] requires additional facts essential to oppose the government's motion."  "Therefore, the Court cannot determine at this time whether discovery is warranted and, if it is, how it should be limited in scope."  "Once the government moves for summary judgment, [plaintiff] may renew his motion for discovery if he is able to show 'by affidavit or declaration that, for specified reasons, [he] cannot present facts essential to justify [his] opposition' to the government's motion."
Topic: 
District Court
Litigation Considerations
Updated July 3, 2018