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Pardo v. FAA, No. 1:13-cv-14, 2013 WL 3729852 (E.D. Va. July 10, 2013) (Hilton, J.)

Re: Request for specific employee e-mails, at issue is whether FAA's search was reasonable when it did not search the e-mail archives of an employee and its disaster recovery tape  Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment
  • Adequacy of the Search:  The court finds that "the search conducted by the FAA was responsive to Plaintiff's request, and was adequate and reasonable in light of Plaintiff's request."  "Upon receipt of Plaintiff's request . . . the FAA conducted a comprehensive search of every FAA location likely to have documents responsive to Plaintiff's request[.]"  "The FAA began its search by identifying all appropriate search locations likely to contain responsive documents in light of Plaintiff's request."  "Plaintiff identified multiple individuals in his request and each of their divisions of employment were identified as locations to be searched."  Defendant explains, "employees within those divisions conducted extensive and specific searches pursuant to Plaintiffs' request."  "The declarations indicate that each location identified by Plaintiff was searched, as well as additional locations likely to contain documents, and each search was conducted in good faith and in a manner reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant documents."  The court finds that "the FAA has made a showing that a search of the disaster recovery tapes would be unduly burdensome and would be unlikely to recover responsive documents in addition to those already produced to Plaintiff."
  • Fees:  The court rejects plaintiff's assertion that he is exempt from fees under 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(viii) because the defendant failed to comply with the statutory time limit.  Plaintiff argues that defendant must search the FAA's discovery recovery tapes for responsive records, although "Plaintiff's initial FOIA request made no specific mention of the disaster recovery tapes, nor did his administrative appeal."  The court finds that defendant has provided plaintiff "with a cost estimate and various options to search the disaster recovery tapes."  "Plaintiff's asserted opinion in an appeal document as to how the FAA should conduct its search does not create a new request, nor does it begin to run the 20 day period outside of which Plaintiff would not be required to pay the fee associated with the search of the disaster recovery tapes."
Court Decision Topic(s)
Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search
District Court opinions
Fees and Fee Waivers
Updated August 6, 2014