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Roman v. CIA, No. 11-CV-5944, 2013 WL 210224 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 18, 2013) (Bianco, J.)

Re: Request for various records on the "Arch of the Covenant," Remote Viewers Program, Stargate Collection, a named third party's experiences with the Arch of the Covenant or with angels or persons dressed in white, and other "reports of angels and persons dressed in white." Disposition: Granting CIA's motion for summary judgment
  • Jurisdiction: The court opines "that a failure to exhaust an administrative claim under FOIA does not deprive the district court of subject matter jurisdiction, but rather is a prudential doctrine that should be addressed either on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion [to] dismiss or a motion for summary judgment." Here, the court concludes "under the summary judgment standard, that dismissal is warranted because plaintiff failed to comply with FOIA's regulations . . . and thus his request was inadequate to exhaust plaintiff's administrative remedies."
  • Exhaustion: The court finds that plaintiff's requests "are not specific enough for an employee of the agency to find all files regarding this information with a 'reasonable amount of effort.'" The court goes on to conclude that "[b]ecause plaintiff failed to comply with the CIA's FOIA regulations, plaintiff is considered to have failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, and summary judgment must be granted in defendant's favor." The court also finds with respect to plaintiff's requests concerning Major David Morehouse, "plaintiff did not provide the agency with Morehouse's date and place of birth so that the CIA could distinguish Morehouse from other individuals, nor did plaintiff provide the agency with a privacy waiver or evidence of Morehouse's death so that even if the CIA could find information, the agency could release it to plaintiff." The court accordingly decides that the complaint was improper and did not comply with agency procedures.
  • Bad faith: The court notes that plaintiff "has not submitted any 'tangible evidence' of bad faith such that the Court should doubt defendant's representation that plaintiff's request was too broad for the agency to conduct a reasonable search."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
Litigation Considerations, Jurisdiction
Updated August 6, 2014