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Yagman v. Brennan, No. 14-8033, 2015 WL 1285359 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 19, 2015) (Gutierrez, J.)


Yagman v. Brennan, No. 14-8033, 2015 WL 1285359 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 19, 2015) (Gutierrez, J.)

Re: Request for information concerning certain CIA employees

Disposition: Granting defendant's motion to dismiss

  • Procedural Considerations, Proper FOIA Requests:  "The Court concludes that Plaintiff's request was not a valid FOIA request because it was a request for information that did not reasonably describe the records that Plaintiff sought from Defendants."  The court holds that "[p]laintiff's failure to submit a valid request is a failure to exhaust administrative remedies under FOIA."  The court explains that "[h]ere, the thrust of Plaintiff's FOIA request is that he wants to know the names and affiliations of any CIA persons or entities who tortured people, as referred to by President Obama at a press conference on August 1, 2014."  The court finds that "[w]hile it may sometimes be appropriate for an agency to respond to a request for information (rather than for documents or records) under FOIA, that circumstance is limited to instances where agencies can readily respond to questions or information requests with existing, responsive documents."  The court holds that "this vague request for information does not direct the Defendants to a specific database or set of records that could answer Plaintiff's question."  "In evaluating the validity of a FOIA request, the 'linchpin inquiry is whether the agency is able to determine "precisely what records (are) being requested[,]"' and Defendants could not do so based on Plaintiff's request."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Procedural Requirements, Proper FOIA Requests
Updated December 10, 2021