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Iskander v. FBI, No. 4:12CV02653, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52899 (N.D. Ohio Apr. 12, 2013) (Pearson, J.)

Re: Requests for records made to obtain "exculpatory evidence to help [plaintiff] appeal his convictions" Disposition: Dismissing plaintiff's claims
  • Proper Party Defendant:  The court dismisses plaintiff's claims against the Ohio Attorney General and the local police department.  As the court remarks, "[b]y definition, FOIA is applicable only to federal agencies. . . . In this case, the Ohio Attorney General and a municipal police department do not fall within the statutory definition of an 'agency.'"  Accordingly, the court dismisses the FOIA claims brought against them.
  • Exhaustion:The court concludes that plaintiff did not provide sufficient information for the court to determine whether he exhausted his administrative remedies with regard to requests made to the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Although plaintiff states that he appealed, the court notes that "[h]e does not attach copies of his appeal, and does not allege when he filed the appeal or to whom he sent the appeal."  "There is no way for the Court to determine from Plaintiff's conclusory statements whether he timely appealed the agency's response within the sixty days allotted  by the agency's regulations, and whether he sent his request to the proper component of the agency designated to receive FOIA appeals."  Similarly, the court finds that plaintiff has not provided enough information for the court to determine whether he exhausted his administrative remedies with regard to his claims against ICE.  However, the court holds that plaintiff did constructively exhaust his administrative remedies for his claim against HHS.  "The facts alleged in the Complaint and those evident from the documents Plaintiff attached as exhibits to his Motion indicate Plaintiff did not receive a response to his FOIA request within the time period set forth in the statute."  The court finds that the "allegations show that DHHS simply never acted on Plaintiff's FOIA request," thus plaintiff has constructively exhausted his administrative remedies.
  • Motion to Dismiss:  The court also notes that with respect to plaintiff's claims against the FBI, plaintiff "does not provide copies of his FOIA requests to the FBI and does not allege in his Complaint what information he requested from that agency."  In addition, the court notes that "[t]he FBI indicated it released 365 pages to Plaintiff."  However, the plaintiff did not indicate what he was provided.  Accordingly, the court finds that Plaintiff has not provided enough factual information to show that the FBI improperly withheld records.  The court also dismisses plaintiff's claims against ICE because plaintiff failed to "meet [] basic pleading requirements."  The court notes that plaintiff "does not provide a copy of his FOIA request" or "information about the request."  Plaintiff also "does not indicate what information the agency was unable to locate or produce."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
Updated August 6, 2014