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Roberson v. FBI, No. 20-02431, 2022 WL 6437284 (D.D.C. Oct. 10, 2022) (Nichols, J.)


Roberson v. FBI, No. 20-02431, 2022 WL 6437284 (D.D.C. Oct. 10, 2022) (Nichols, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning plaintiff’s criminal prosecution

Disposition:  Denying defendant’s motion to dismiss or in alternative for summary judgment

  • Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies:  The court relates that “the parties agree that the FBI responded to [plaintiff’s] FOIA request on August 6, 2020, which was more than 20 business days after it received the FOIA request on July 2.”  “The record supports (and the FBI does not dispute) that [plaintiff] submitted his complaint to prison officials for mailing on August 4, 2020, which the Court treats as the relevant filing date under the mailbox rule.”  “Because the FBI’s August 6 response was neither within the 20-day statutory period nor before [plaintiff] filed suit on August 4, [the court finds that] the FBI has not shown that [plaintiff] failed to constructively exhaust his administrative remedies.”
  • Litigation Considerations, Mootness and Other Grounds for Dismissal:  Responding to defendant’s res judicata argument, the court holds that, “[f]irst, [plaintiff’s] lawsuits do not involve the same claims.”  “Although the two complaints at issue here raise similar causes of action based on the FBI’s responses to similar FOIA requests, the FOIA requests were submitted – and denied – separately and years apart from each other.”  “The lawsuits therefore challenge different agency determinations, and the current lawsuit challenges a determination that had not yet been made at the time of the first lawsuit.”  “The Court concludes that the facts underlying the lawsuits are not ‘closely related in time, space, origin, and motivation’ and would not have formed a convenient trial unit as required for res judicata to apply.”  “Second, even if the lawsuits did raise the same claim, the previous case was dismissed without prejudice and therefore ‘does not operate as an adjudication upon the merits’ or ‘have a res judicata effect.’”  “A dismissal of a complaint for failure to exhaust administrative remedies does not preclude a plaintiff from bringing another suit after he has exhausted his administrative remedies.”  “The previous dismissal therefore would not have barred [plaintiff] from filing suit after exhausting his administrative remedies even as to his first FOIA request, and it likewise does not bar his suit here.”
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
Litigation Considerations, Mootness and Other Grounds for Dismissal
Updated November 28, 2022