White v. DOJ, No. 16-948, 2018 WL 488719 (S.D. Ill. Jan. 19, 2018) (Gilbert, J.)

Friday, January 19, 2018

White v. DOJ, No. 16-948, 2018 WL 488719 (S.D. Ill. Jan. 19, 2018) (Gilbert, J.)

Re: Multiple requests concerning a variety of topics

Disposition: Granting in part and denying in part defendant's motions for partial summary judgment

  • Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies:  The court holds that "DOJ has not convinced the Court that [plaintiff] failed to exhaust his administrative remedies on these claims."  The court explains that "because [plaintiff] tendered his Amended Complaint before any agency response, [the requirement that plaintiff actually exhaust his administrative remedies] does not apply."  The court further explains that "[it] deem[ed] [plaintiff's] Amended Complaint filed the day he tendered it to the Court, not the date the Court allowed it to be filed."  Also, "under the mailbox rule, [plaintiff] is considered to have 'filed' a document when he turns it over to a prison official to be sent to the Court."
  • Litigation Considerations, Pleadings:  The court rejects "DOJ['s] argu[ment] that it is entitled to summary judgment on the following claim because [plaintiff] failed to allege conduct that violates FOIA[.]"  The court relates that "DOJ asks the Court for summary judgment on this claim 'because [plaintiff] as provided with a response but fails to challenge the adequacy of the search or the validity of the claimed exemptions.'"  "Construing the Amended Complaint liberally in [plaintiff's] favor, as is appropriate where a litigant is proceeding pro se, . . . the Court believes [plaintiff] has, albeit obliquely, articulated a challenge to the adequacy of the search performed by the BOP."  "He asserts that his FOIA challenges include 'exhausted requests where the agency denies having any responsive records, but, public sources show that the agency must have some responsive records.'"  "This can be construed as an assertion that the BOP's search was unreasonable because it did not locate other responsive documents about which [plaintiff] is aware and which were known by the agency and available to it."  "Similarly, [the court finds that plaintiff] alleged in the Amended Complaint that his FOIA challenges include 'subjects of request being withheld pursuant to [third-party privacy exemptions]' where exceptions to the exemptions apply."  "This can be construed as an argument that the BOP improperly applied statutory third-party privacy exemptions to justify redacting information from the produced documents."
  • Litigation Considerations, Mootness and Other Grounds for Dismissal:  "Because [plaintiff] has not objected to the DOJ's request for summary judgment on [certain other] claims, the Court construes [plaintiff's] failure to contest the DOJ's summary judgment motion on these claims as an admission of the merits of the motion."


District Court
Litigation Considerations
Updated July 6, 2018