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Yassein v. El Paso Intel. Ctr., No. 21-1530, 2022 WL 228976 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 26, 2022) (Curiel, J.)


Yassein v. El Paso Intel. Ctr., No. 21-1530, 2022 WL 228976 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 26, 2022) (Curiel, J.) 

Re:  Request for records concerning alleged search and seizure of plaintiff's car

Disposition:  Granting defendants' motion for summary judgment

  • Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies:  "On or about May 28, 2021, Plaintiff sent a FOIA request to the 'FOIA/PA Mail Referral Unit' at the El Paso Intelligence Center."  "In a letter sent on August 26, 2021 but dated August 3, 2021—44 business days after Plaintiff sent his FOIA request—the DEA division in Springfield, VA responded to Plaintiff with a request for clarification, including a request for a more detailed description and date range for the request."  The court notes that "the agency's August 3 letter does two things:  makes a good faith effort to assist Plaintiff in satisfying the requirement of reasonable description, and provides Plaintiff with the information necessary to complete an administrative appeal."  "The letter's attempt to clarify the request tips the scales in favor of Defendants."  "Without . . . an appeal, Plaintiff's lawsuit is premature and summary judgment for Defendants is proper."
  • Procedural Requirements, Proper FOIA Requests:  "Even assuming arguendo that Plaintiff had received Defendants' letter requesting clarification after the initiation of Plaintiff's suit, thus constructively satisfying administrative exhaustion, . . . the Court concludes that [plaintiff's request] is indeed so vague that it does not 'reasonably describe' the records being sought, therefore failing to meet the requirements of a proper FOIA request."  "[T]he request does not actually include any entreating language:  Plaintiff never actually asks for any kind of record."  "Instead, the FOIA request reads like an attempt to charge [a law enforcement officer] with a crime."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
Procedural Requirements, Proper FOIA Requests
Updated February 22, 2022