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Taitz v. Colvin, No. 13-1878, 2014 WL 1918714 (D. Md. May 13, 2014) (Hollander, J.)


Taitz v. Colvin, No. 13-1878, 2014 WL 1918714 (D. Md. May 13, 2014) (Hollander, J.)

Re: Request for Social Security application of third party which plaintiff believes is being used by President Barak Obama as his own

Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment

  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  The court holds that defendant's "[d]eclaration satisfies FOIA's requirements; it is reasonably detailed, sets forth the types and varieties of search performed, and states that all files likely to contain responsive materials were searched."
  • Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records:  The court holds that "contrary to plaintiff's assertions, the FOIA explicitly permits agencies to conduct automated-as opposed to manual-searches of agency records."  The court finds that "so long as an agency's automated search is reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant documents, the automated search satisfies the requirements of the FOIA."  Moreover, the court finds that "the November Letter," which follows "SSA's practice of declining to confirm or deny a match when a requester provides only an SSN. . . as it prevents the inadvertent confirmation of an individual's SSN," "does not cast any doubt on SSA's later statement, in response to plaintiff's more detailed FOIA request, that it was unable to locate records."  Also, the court finds that "[p]laintiff's unsubstantiated allegations that the ["numerically ordered electronic database containing records of each person who has applied for a social security number"] has been altered or is not comprehensive are insufficient to raise a material dispute about the adequacy of the agency's search."

Additionally, the court "conclude[s] that SSA complied with the FOIA in responding to the FOIA request of April 26, 2013," and therefore "plaintiff's appeal of SSA's response is necessarily without merit."

  • Litigation Considerations, Vaughn Index / Declaration:  The court "den[ies] plaintiff's request [for a Vaughn Index] as moot."  The court explains that, "[a]s discussed, SSA does not claim to be withholding any documents responsive to plaintiff's request."  "Rather, it maintains that it has not located any responsive documents."  "Accordingly, there is no information for SSA to include in a Vaughn index."

Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search
Litigation Considerations, Vaughn Index/Declarations
Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records
Updated February 3, 2022