The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina, District Judge
GRANTING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS;
GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE A
I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
This matter comes before the court on the defendant's motion to dismiss
for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and the plaintiff's motion for
leave to file a supplemental complaint. On May 11, 1995, Steven
Aftergood ("the plaintiff"), filed a Freedom of Information Act
("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552 et seq., request with the Central
Intelligence Agency ("CIA" or "the defendant") seeking budget information
for the years 1947 through 1990. Compl. ¶ 14. The CIA denied the
plaintiff's request and on June 5, 1995 the plaintiff filed an
administrative appeal with the CIA. Id. ¶ 16-17. Five years later,
the CIA denied the plaintiff's appeal. Id. ¶ 18. Continuing his
effort to obtain the budget information from the CIA, the plaintiff filed
a complaint with this court on December 7, 2001. Id. ¶ 10.
A. The Court Grants the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
for Lack of Subject-Matter Jurisdiction
The defendant moves to dismiss, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1), arguing that the statute of limitations precludes the
court's subject-matter jurisdiction. Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss at 1. On a
motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the
burden of establishing that the court has jurisdiction. Dist. of Columbia
Retirement Bd. v. United States, 657 F. Supp. 428, 431 (D.D.C. 1987). In
evaluating whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, the court must
accept all the complaint's well-pled factual allegations as true and draw
all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Scheuer v. Rhodes,
416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overturned on other grounds, Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982). The court need not, however, accept
inferences unsupported by the facts alleged or legal conclusions that are
cast as factual allegations. See, e.g., Lawrence v. Dunbar, 919 F.2d 1525,
1529 (11th Cir. 1990).
The plaintiff in this case filed his complaint pro se.*fn1 As such,
the court recognizes and applies to this case the principal that "[p]ro
se litigants are allowed more latitude than litigants represented by
counsel to correct defects in service of process and pleadings." Moore
v. Agency for Int'l Dev., 994 F.2d 874, 876 (D.C. Cir. 1993) (citing
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)). Nevertheless, a pro se
plaintiff, must still follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Id.
The applicable statute of limitations for FOIA actions is
28 U.S.C. § 2401(a), which requires that a complaint be filed within
six years of the accrual of a claim. 5 U.S.C. § 552; Spannaus v.
Dep't of Justice, 824 F.2d 52, 55 (D.C. Cir. 1987). "Unlike an ordinary
statute of limitations, § 2401(a) is a jurisdictional condition
attached to the government's waiver of sovereign immunity, and as such
must be strictly construed." Id.
Generally, a cause of action accrues as soon as the claimant can
institute and maintain a suit in court. Spannaus, 824 F.2d at 56. More
specifically, a FOIA claim accrues once the claimant has constructively
exhausted his or her administrative remedies. Id. at 57. Constructive
exhaustion occurs when the time limits by which an agency must reply to a
FOIA claimant's request or appeal (if there is an appeal) expire.
5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(C); Spannaus, 824 F.2d at 58.
B. The Court Grants the Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File a
Supplemental Complaint Based on the 2002 FOIA Request
The plaintiff filed a second FOIA request with the CIA on February 22,
2002. Pl.'s Mot. for Leave to File a Supp. Compl. at 1-2. Though the
requests were filed at different times and may have been reviewed by
different CIA employees, the 2002 FOIA request is "substantially similar"
to the 1995 FOIA request in that both request the same CIA budget
information. Id. Regarding the 2002 request, the plaintiff
constructively exhausted his administrative remedies 20 business days
after filing the 2002 request, when the agency's response period
expired. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i). Therefore, a new cause of
action accrued on or about March 22, 2002. Id.; Pl.'s Mot. for Leave to
File a Supp. Compl. at 2. The plaintiff requests leave to file a
supplemental complaint, asserting that the addition of claims regarding
the 2002 FOIA request cures the jurisdictional defect in the original
complaint. Pl.'s Mot. for Leave to File a Supp. Compl. at 2.
A party may file supplemental pleadings "setting forth transactions or
occurrences or events which have happened since the date of the pleading
sought to be supplemented." FED. R. CIV. P. 15(d). Supplemental
pleadings may introduce new causes of action not alleged in the original
complaint so long as their introduction does not create surprise or
prejudice the rights of the adverse party. Montgomery Envtl. Coalition
v. Fri, 366 F. Supp. 261, 265-66 (D.D.C. 1973). Moreover, "leave to file
a supplemental pleading should be freely permitted when the supplemental
facts connect it to the original pleading." Quaratino v. Tiffany &
Co., 71 F.3d 58, 66 (2d Cir. 1995). Finally, the purpose of pleading ...