Justice v. MSHA, No. 14-14438, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7812 (S.D. W. Va. Jan. 23, 2015) (Copenhaver, Jr., J.)
Re: Request for records concerning completed investigative file relating to plaintiff's complaint under the Mine Safety and Health Act
Disposition: Denying defendant's motion to dismiss as premature
- Litigation Considerations: The court holds that plaintiff has standing because "[plaintiff] has a definite and concrete interest in the dispute over his own FOIA request, and the resolution of that dispute will yield specific and conclusive relief." The court agrees with defendant that "once a FOIA request has been satisfied, the parties' interests are no longer adverse and the concrete dispute between them has been resolved, therefore the need for any further declaration of their respective rights is obviated." However, the court holds that "assuming that a declaration concerning the propriety of an agency's response to a FOIA request would be improper once the requested documents have been disclosed does not require the dismissal of [this action] because, as noted, [plaintiff] alleges that MSHA has not yet disclosed the documents pertinent to his FOIA request." "Moreover, even if MSHA has responded in some manner to the plaintiff's request (as subsequent filings in this case suggest), [plaintiff] charges the agency with 'failing to respond substantively' and . . . references MSHA's 'overly broad denials of requests for information,' indicating that a live controversy over the content of that response may yet remain."