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Harrison v. EOUSA, No. 16-1310, 2017 WL 2882206 (S.D. Cal. July 6, 2017) (Sammartino, J.)


Harrison v. EOUSA, No. 16-1310, 2017 WL 2882206 (S.D. Cal. July 6, 2017) (Sammartino, J.)

Re:  Request for certain records concerning plaintiff

Disposition:  Granting defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment

  • Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records:  "Based on . . . additional search efforts, the Court concludes that Defendant has met its investigative obligations under FOIA."  The court explains that, "[f]or one, these searches were reasonably calculated to locate responsive documents."  "Specifically, Defendant went far beyond its original search efforts (consisting of a single phone call), and (1) conversed . . . several more times; (2) sent an office-wide email to all employees of the U.S. Attorney's Office seeking responsive records; (3) searched the U.S. Attorney's Office case file system and reviewed the files containing [plaintiff's] name; (4) searched [certain other pertinent] electronic files and emails; and (5) searched [a certain other pertinent] legal assistant's electronic files."  Responding to plaintiff's arguments, the court finds that plaintiff's "'[s]peculative claims about the existence of additional documents are insufficient to rebut the presumption of good faith' to which [defendant's] declarations are entitled."  "Nor does it matter that this search produced no responsive documents since 'the adequacy of a FOIA search is generally determined not by the fruits of the search, but by the appropriateness of the methods used to carry out the search.'"  "In sum, under FOIA Plaintiff was 'entitled to a reasonable search for records, not a perfect one.'"  "'And a reasonable search is what [he] got.'"
  • Litigation Considerations, Discovery:  The court finds that "[w]hile discovery may be appropriate in some cases . . . Plaintiff fails to demonstrate that discovery is appropriate in this case."  "At core, it seems that Plaintiff wants this Court to determine why [an AUSA] first stated that he was sending Plaintiff's letter to various investigative agencies, and then apparently did not actually send the letter to those agencies."  "But, as Defendant correctly explains, there is no basis under FOIA for the Court to reach that issue."  "Rather, the Court's jurisdiction is limited to determining whether the agency has (1) improperly (2) withheld (3) agency records."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Discovery
Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records
Updated December 14, 2021