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Bestor v. Federal Bureau of Investigation

March 26, 2008

ANDREW SCOTT BESTOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document No: 14

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART THE PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

The pro se plaintiff, Andrew Scott Bestor, sued the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") for its alleged failure on three separate occasions to disclose all documents relating to him in its possession pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552. The defendant moved to dismiss arguing that the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies on a FOIA request made to the Washington Field Office ("WFO"). The defendant also moved for summary judgment as to the plaintiff's requests to the FBI Headquarters ("FBIHQ") and Seattle Field Office ("SEFO") because the agency conducted a search that was reasonable and in good faith. The court granted both motions.

On August 13, 2007, the plaintiff filed a motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) requesting that the court grant him relief from this judgment. Because no change in circuit law has occurred and because there is no newly discovered evidence since the time of judgment, the court denies the plaintiff's request for reconsideration.

The plaintiff brought his motion within 10 days of the court's order, and therefore, the court also considers his request as one for relief pursuant to Rule 59(e). As the court's judgment contained no substantive legal errors, the court denies the plaintiff the relief he seeks as to the FBIHQ and SEFO requests. Because the plaintiff has made clear that his complaint does not challenge the defendant's handling of his WFO request, the court grants in part the plaintiff's motion and vacates its previous ruling as it pertains to this request.

II. BACKGROUND*fn1

On August 6, 2007, the court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss the plaintiff's WFO request, concluding that the plaintiff had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. See generally Mem. Op. (Aug. 6, 2007). In that same ruling, the court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment as to the plaintiff's FBIHQ and SEFO requests, concluding that the defendant had conducted an adequate, good faith search in satisfaction of its obligations under FOIA. Id. As evidence that the defendant acted in good faith, the court pointed to the fact that after its initial records search, the defendant voluntarily conducted a second more extensive search and provided the plaintiff with two additional unredacted pages from its files. Id. at 14.

On August 13, 2007, the plaintiff moved for reconsideration of the court's ruling pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). The court now considers each of the plaintiff's arguments pursuant to Rule 60(b). And, because he brought his motion within the 10 days required by Rule 59(e), the court also analyzes his claims under the more liberal standard of that rule.

III. ANALYSIS

A. The Court Denies the Plaintiff's Motion Because the Plaintiff is Not Entitled to Relief Pursuant to Rule 60(b)

The plaintiff's request for relief pursuant to Rule 60 does not present a meritorious claim. First, the plaintiff is not entitled to relief under this rule because there has been no change in Circuit law. Similarly, no new evidence has been discovered to allow this court to grant relief under Rule 60(b)(2). ...


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