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SAE Productions, Inc. v. Federal Bureau of Investigation

December 19, 2008

SAE PRODUCTIONS, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff SAE Productions, Inc. ("SAE Productions" or "Corporation") brings the instant lawsuit against Defendant Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 522, et seq., and the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, et seq. Plaintiff filed its Complaint on August 26, 2008, alleging that Defendant FBI has improperly withheld agency records requested by Plaintiff pursuant to FOIA and the Privacy Act. Presently before the Court is Defendant's [7] Motion to Dismiss, or, Alternatively, for Partial Summary Judgment,*fn1 as well as Plaintiff's [13] Opposition, and Defendant's [16] Reply. After a thorough review of the parties' submissions, applicable case law and statutory authority, the Court concludes that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's FOIA claims. Furthermore, the Court finds, sua sponte, that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's Privacy Act claims. Accordingly, because the Court resolves this matter solely on the legal grounds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction and does not reach the merits of this case, the Court shall treat Defendant's Motion as a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and shall grant Defendant's Motion to Dismiss as to Plaintiff's FOIA claims. Moreover, because the Court also finds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's Privacy Act claims, the Court shall dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint in its entirety.

I. BACKGROUND

The instant lawsuit arises out of three separate requests for information under FOIA and/or the Privacy Act, each made by Mr. Steven Emerson, President of SAE Productions. See Complaint, Docket No. [1], ¶¶ 3, 5-20. The Court will briefly review each request before turning to the procedural history in the instant case.

A. Requests Pursuant to FOIA and/or the Privacy Act

1. The January 15, 2008 Request Made Pursuant to FOIA

As set out in Plaintiff's Complaint, the first request was submitted by Mr. Emerson to the FBI by letter dated January 15, 2008 (hereinafter "January 15, 2008 Request").*fn2 Id. ¶ 16. Made pursuant to FOIA, the January 15, 2008 Request sought "all documents that relate to the development of youth camps, with any association with the FBI as indicated in the supplied materials, for Muslim Youth." Id. ¶ 16. The FBI subsequently sent a letter to Mr. Emerson, dated February 21, 2008, informing him that no responsive records had been found. Id. ¶ 17.

2. The January 31, 2008 Request Made Pursuant to FOIA and the Privacy Act

The second request was submitted by Mr. Emerson to the FBI by letter dated January 31, 2008 (hereinafter "January 31, 2008 Request").*fn3 Id. ¶ 5. Made pursuant to both FOIA and the Privacy Act, the January 31, 2008 Request sought "'all FBI communication and/or other FBI documentation (including but not limited to e-mails, letters, memos, and reports)' related to Emerson from 2000 to present." Id. By letter dated March 21, 2008, the FBI informed Mr. Emerson that no records responsive to Mr. Emerson's request could be found. Id. ¶ 7.

3. The April 3, 2008 Request Made Pursuant to FOIA and the Privacy Act

The third request was submitted by Mr. Emerson to the FBI by letter dated April 3, 2008 (hereinafter "April 3, 2008 Request"). Id. ¶ 13. The third request, like the second request, was made pursuant to both FOIA and the Privacy Act and sought "'all FBI communication and/or other FBI documentation (including but not limited to e-mails, letters, memos, and reports)' related to Emerson from 2000 to present." Id. As alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint, "[m]ore than twenty working days elapsed without a determination by the FBI concerning Emerson's [third] request. . . ." Id. ¶ 14.

B. Procedural Background

Plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit on August 26, 2008, alleging that Defendant FBI has improperly withheld the disclosure of agency records as requested by Plaintiff pursuant to FOIA and the Privacy Act. Defendant FBI subsequently filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Docket No. [7]. Defendant argues that Plaintiff's FOIA claims should be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because Plaintiff SAE Productions itself did not submit any of the requests at issue and therefore lacks standing to pursue this case. See Defendant's Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (hereinafter "Def.'s Mem.") at 1. Plaintiff filed an Opposition, Docket No. [13] (hereinafter "Pl.'s Opp'n"), and Defendant subsequently filed a Reply, Docket No. [16] (hereinafter "Def.'s Reply"). Defendant's Motion to Dismiss as to all counts is therefore ripe.*fn4 As noted above, however, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and the related briefing fail to discuss Plaintiff's Privacy Act claims. See supra 1 n.1. Nonetheless, the Court has an independent obligation to ensure it has subject ...


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