Friends of the River v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 16-05052, 2016 WL 6873467 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 22, 2016) (Rogers, J.)
Re: Request for records concerning operation and maintenance of two dams on Yuba River
Disposition: Granting defendant's motion to transfer for improper venue; transferring case to District of Columbia
- Litigation Considerations, Venue: "[T]he Court finds that venue in this case is not proper in the Northern District of California." The court finds that "it is undisputed that a significant portion of the responsive documents are actually located in another district." "Moreover, defendant has also provided evidence specifically stating that the responsive documents are, in fact, entirely located in that other district . . . or that 'there is no reasonable expectation that relevant agency records would be maintained' by the Corps offices located in this District[.]" Additionally, the court finds that "[p]laintiff's claim that venue would be proper in every federal judicial district where a Corps' office is located because all offices allegedly received the same legal memorandum that it contends is responsive to one of its FOIA requests is not supported with any legal authority." "Nor does the plain language of the FOIA venue statute support such an interpretation."
"The Court is persuaded by plaintiff's arguments and finds that the interest of justice dictates that this case be transferred rather than dismissed." The court relates that "Plaintiff argues that dismissal would prejudice its case because it would cause further delay in resolving FOIA requests that are already months overdue," "that re-filing will require it to pay additional fees and costs that would be a burden that could be avoided if the case was transferred rather than dismissed," and "that it had a good faith and reasonable belief that venue was proper in the Northern District." The court notes that "[p]laintiff has specifically requested that the case be transferred to the District of Columbia, which Congress has expressly established as a place of proper venue for all FOIA cases, regardless of where the records at issue are located." "Defendant also agreed that, if the Court granted a transfer, the District of Columbia would be an appropriate forum." "Thus, the Court will transfer the case to the District of Columbia."