People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Dep't of Agric., No. 17-0269, 2018 WL 466650 (D.D.C. Jan. 18, 2018) (Cooper, J.)
Re: Suit under "reading room provision" regarding removal from website of records concerning inspection and licensing of animal research facilities
Disposition: Granting defendant's motion to dismiss
- Litigation Considerations, Mootness and Other Grounds for Dismissal: "As to the documents that have been reposted, because [plaintiff] has been accorded the full relief requested in the complaint, the Court concludes [that plaintiff's] claims as to those documents are now moot and should be dismissed." Additionally, the court finds that "[plaintiff's] complaint does not challenge any ongoing agency policy (at least with respect to any reposted records) – it has always challenged a discrete agency action, namely the removal of website records[.]" "Consequently, the mooting of [plaintiff's] injunctive relief request simultaneously moots its declaratory relief request."
- Litigation Considerations, Pleadings: "As for the remaining documents, [which have not been reposted] the Court will dismiss [plaintiff's] claims without prejudice under Rule 12(b)(6) because the complaint does not adequately plead that the documents are reading room documents." The court relates that "[plaintiff] argues that the records at issue here fall in ["final opinions and orders rendered in the adjudication of cases" or "frequently requested documents"]." "As to the first category, [the court finds that plaintiff's] complaint does not contain plausible allegations that the records at issue represent final opinions made in the adjudication of cases." "Indeed, the challenged regulatory compliance records specifically involved cases 'that have not reached final adjudication.'" As to the second category, the court finds that "[plaintiff] nowhere alleges in its complaint that the animal inventories and regulatory compliance records have ever been released to any person pursuant to a valid FOIA request." "Thus, the records fail to meet the first requirement to be frequently request records." "Similarly, [plaintiff] nowhere alleges that the records have been requested more than three times or that the Department has determined the records have been or are likely to be the subject of multiple requests."