Stalcup v. DOD, No. 13-11967, 2018 WL 4963169 (D. Mass. Oct. 15, 2018) (Sorokin, J.)

Date: 
Monday, October 15, 2018

Stalcup v. DOD, No. 13-11967, 2018 WL 4963169 (D. Mass. Oct. 15, 2018) (Sorokin, J.)

Re:  Requests for records concerning 1996 crash of TWA flight 800 and records concerning missile activity around time of crash

Disposition:  Denying defendants' motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's motion for discovery

  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  Regarding the Missile Defense Agency, the court holds that "the information in [defendant's] latest affidavit is still insufficient to allow a conclusion that records systems in other individual Directorates are either too burdensome to search or unlikely to contain responsive information."  "Nor does the latest affidavit state that no such records systems exist."  "Although there is 'no requirement that an agency search every record system' or 'provide a comprehensive list of record systems unlikely to contain responsive records,' an agency must nevertheless 'provide a reasonably detailed affidavit, setting forth the search terms and the type of search performed, and averring that all files likely to contain responsive materials were searched, as well as a general description of the structure of the agency's file system demonstrating why further search would be overly burdensome.'"  The court finds that "[defendant's] conclusory statements about the extent of the agency's records search do not suffice as a 'general description of the structure of the agency's file system,' . . . nor do they provide enough information about [defendant's] recordkeeping system such that the Court can understand whether or why searches of any file systems not yet searched would be overly burdensome."  The court finds similarly regarding the search justifications of the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff.
Topic: 
Adequacy of Search
District Court
Litigation Considerations
Updated January 31, 2019