The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHEY
Before the Court in the above-captioned case are the plaintiffs' Motions for Summary Judgment and the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion to Dismiss. Upon careful consideration of the parties' pleadings, the entire record herein, and the law applicable thereto, the Court shall grant the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and shall deny the plaintiffs' respective Motions for Summary Judgment.
This case concerns requests by the plaintiffs filed pursuant to the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. §§ 552 and 552a, for records in the defendant IRS's possession and control.
The plaintiffs filed the present suit, seeking an order granting the plaintiffs immediate access to the records requested and costs and attorneys' fees. On July 19, 1996, the defendant filed its Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and Motion to Dismiss. Because the defendant relies on matters outside the pleadings, the motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b); 56(c). On July 31, 1996, the plaintiffs Trueblood and Taylor filed their respective Motions for Summary Judgment. The defendant responded on August 8, 1996, filing separate Oppositions to the plaintiffs' respective Motions for Summary Judgment.
A. The Plaintiff Trueblood's FOIA Request to the IRS.
The plaintiff Trueblood made a FOIA request for documents by letter dated November 2, 1995, and sent to the IRS office in New Orleans, Louisiana. The request, among other things, asked for 80 separate items listed in his Individual Master File associated with certain Document Locator Numbers. See Compl. P 5 & Exh. I thereto.
The plaintiff received a letter dated November 21, 1995, from the defendant IRS requesting additional time to comply with the request or, alternatively, informing the plaintiff Trueblood that he could consider the letter a denial of his request and file an appeal. Compl. P 6 & Exh. III thereto. The plaintiff filed an administrative appeal on December 1, 1995. Compl. P 7 & Exh. IV thereto.
During the succeeding months, the IRS sent additional letters to the Plaintiff Trueblood requesting more time to comply with his FOIA request. Def's Mot. for Summ. Jud., Exhs. C-G. On March 21, 1996, the IRS sent the Plaintiff Trueblood two documents in response to his November 2, 1995 request. Decl. of Linda Renton, P 28 & Exh. H thereto. The IRS informed the plaintiff Trueblood that it could not locate further documents at that time because the Department of Justice (which was involved in litigation with the plaintiff Trueblood) was in possession of the files the IRS needed to search in order to find additional documents. The IRS further advised the plaintiff Trueblood that some of the "documents" he had requested were actually "generated transactions" that had no "source documents" associated to them. As a result, there were no responsive documents for those items. Id.
During June 1996, and after the commencement of the present action, the Department of Justice returned to the IRS the files relating to the plaintiff Trueblood. Id. PP 31-37. The IRS reviewed these files, and all additional files responsive to his FOIA request were sent to the plaintiff Trueblood on July 19, 1996. Decl. of Thomas E. Carter, PP 7-8; Decl. of Alan Swirski, PP 2-3.
B. The Plaintiff Taylor's FOIA Request to the IRS
In a letter dated February 23, 1996, the IRS requested additional time in order to respond to the FOIA request. Decl. of Symeria R. Rascoe, P 7 & Exh. B thereto. In a letter dated April 8, 1996, the IRS informed the plaintiff Taylor that it had identified documents responsive to the first part of his FOIA request and that these documents would be forwarded to him upon receipt of $ 46.65 to cover the cost of review, search and/or copying. Id. at P 7 & Exh. C thereto. The April 8th letter also informed the plaintiff Taylor that the IRS could not respond to the second part of his FOIA request involving certain "projects," because the "projects" at issue were not documents, but rather ...