Lopez v. NARA, No. 17-0133, 2018 WL 1342476 (D.D.C. Mar. 15, 2018) (Jackson, J.)
Re: Request for certain records concerning plaintiff
Disposition: Granting defendants' renewed motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's motion for summary judgment
- Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies: The court holds that "[b]ecause plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, NARA is entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff's FOIA claim." The court finds that "there is no dispute that plaintiff filed this lawsuit after NARA responded to his FOIA request but before he had appealed the agency's determination." Responding to plaintiff's argument, the court finds that "the special right to immediate judicial review that arises from the lack of a timely response is not available if an agency responds to a request at any time before the requestor files suit." "That is what happened here." Similarly, the court finds that "[s]ince it is undisputed that plaintiff's request was not sent through the proper channels to CIA, the agency was not required to respond, and plaintiff did not exhaust his administrative remedies as to that agency." Responding to plaintiff's argument, the court finds that "[p]laintiff cites no case law supporting his theory that 'actual notice' may serve as an alternative to properly sending a request to an agency, and his approach is contrary to binding Circuit authority that makes exhaustion of administrative remedies 'a mandatory prerequisite to a lawsuit under FOIA.'"